A Day In Napa, California
24 hours in Napa. You cannot see much, but what you can see will not be anything short of incredible.
I landed at San Fransisco International Airport (SFO) around 8 a.m. local time and headed to get my car. I love renting from Hertz on a girl's trips because it is a simple, no fuss, grab a car and get out of there. The terminal I landed in was full of fresh bites to eat. Which meant I didn't need to stop for a full breakfast. I grabbed a coffee, blueberry scone and then off I went. The drive to Napa took me about two hours from SFO. When I arrived the clock had just turned to 11:00 a.m. My first stop was a small family winery that I found on the Yelp app before I left. There is always something charming about a small winery to begin the day. During my time in Paso Robles, California, the locals would give me tips on which winery to try. Unfortunealty, I didn’t have more than a day so Yelp had to do. As I went through a few winding roads I finally came upon Hendry.
The family that owns the winery lives on property and you can sees amongst the vineyard a beautiful, big white home with a wrap around porch. I drove to the tasting room, and unfortunately someone else with my name took my spot for the tasting, so the girls there gave me a private patio tasting. It was better than I could have asked for., and I’m really glad someone stole my original tasting spot. I would have missed out completely. The girls told me the history of the winery while giving generous pours. This winery wasn't always a winery. They tended to root vegetables and other crops until the late 1960s and early 1970s when there was a shift in Napa’s wine industry. The price of grapes were rising rapidly, the focus of wineries was shifting from quantity to quality, and vineyard plantings were on the rise. The owner, George, was an engineer and with his earnings, he built a reservoir, and in 1973, 74, and 75 replanted most of the ranch to a vineyard. Some of these plantings returned vineyard to land that had been fallow for nearly 100 years.
One of my favorite stories from the tasting is how George named the wine. Because he was an engineer he is very literally, something I can appreciate, and his wines were named after the plot of land where the grapes came from. For example, Block 7 & 24 Zinfandel, and possibly my favorite was his red blend simply named, Red. It was the best stop of the day, and I would have stayed there forever if I could have.
Knowing I had an appointment at one Napa’s wine meccas, Joseph Phelps, I had to say goodbye to Hendry after my tasting and brief time learning about this fantastic winery. I purchased a couple bottles of wine, which they shipped back home for me and headed back out on the winding road again.
There is vast difference between a family winery and a mecca. It is known the minute you pull up to the vineyard. Joseph Phelps was nestled amongst a hillside full of crops with the most extensive set up I've seen. There were huge barrels and wine corks adoring both inside and outside. The gardens were full of beautiful flowers and buzzing bees. There was a bustling storefront and numerous options for tours and tastings. Our tasting took place outside overlooking their "bone" vineyard. The way the vines were planted, formed the shape of a dog bone when looking at it. They brought out wines at a little quicker of a pace, but even with the pace of pours the atmosphere and service were top notch.
As the day started to tick down, I knew I didn't have much time before heading to my hotel for the evening, so it was off to have an early dinner and of course a couple of glasses of wine. I knew my hotel had a dinner, but being vegetarian, I wanted to eat somewhere I knew the menu. So, I stopped at a farm to table restaurant in St. Helena. I ordered a cheese platter, wine and a vegetable risotto which was garnished with fresh basil. It was exquisite.
When the wineries started to close (it is a shame they close early), I drove through a couple of cute towns looking at the architecture on our way to a unique place to lay our heads that night, Safari West.
Safari West is essentially glamping. If you are unaware of glamping, it is a way to enjoy the outdoors with the comforts of being indoors. You stay in a large tent with modern amenities like a working toilet and my favorite, heated blankets. After I checked into Safari West, I was taken via a jeep to the cabin and given a quick verbal tour of the animals they have on the property, when dinner was and what to do in the cabin. Since we had just eaten, we decided to go for a walk around the property to see the animals which included three brand new baby giraffes. With most people staying longer than our quick overnighter, they do have options to go on actual safari's to the more significant part of their property to see more animals. It was an experience we wouldn't have in everyday life, that is for sure. Dinner was family style, outdoor by the fire pits. The hot brownie dessert was a crowd pleaser. After dinner, I settled in for the night reading the previous notes guests left in the book. Although you could hear the animals while you slept, it was a welcome pace from hearing cars and sirens like back home.
I woke up to see the sunrise before heading to San Francisco for the rest of my girls trip. Napa, I'll be back!