November 23, 2016 | Napa Valley, California
Everything about our first trip to Napa was everything I could have hoped for and more! The colors were absolutely beautiful this time of year, the entire wine region felt completely like fall, and we had so much fun exploring the different wineries as we took in all that Napa had to offer. Because neither of us had visited this region of California before, we did quite a bit of research ahead of time. We knew we wanted to see, do, and drink as much as we could so we mapped out a tasting plan and searched high and low for Napa’s best wineries.
Our first day of tastings consisted of vineyards that did not require reservations ahead of time. If you’re traveling to Napa I recommend calling or visiting websites at least 48 hours in advance to make sure you book a tasting or are able to walk in. Starting our trip with walk ins was probably the best decision we could have made. You never know if you’ll want to spend 30 minutes or a few hours at a place, and this allowed us to take in each unique area on our own schedule.
To tackle our first full day without reservations, we headed north towards Calistoga then stopped at wineries along St. Helena, Yountville, Napa, then Carneros before returning to our adorable hotel, The White House Inn.
We didn’t have a reservation for Nickel and Nickel’s tasting room, but we did stop and snap a few photos of the beautiful landscape and horses on our drive north. If your schedule allows, this beautiful farmstead winery offers wine tours and tastings at $65 per person by appointment only. By appointment tours are available Monday-Friday, 10:00am-3:00pm and Saturday-Sunday, 10:00am-2:00pm. *Pets not allowed
The first stop on our tasting list was Chateau Montelena. This winery and tasting room is located in the far north region of Calistoga. While the property itself is tucked back off the beaten path and known for being historic, the stunning chateau and adjacent Japanese garden and lake offer a beautiful setting for a first tasting of the day. The tasting room is open 9:30am-4:00pm daily at $25 per person and does not require reservations ahead of time.
From the far north region we gradually made our way back south at our next stop of the day, Castello di Amorosa. Located in Napa’s St. Helena region this 13th century inspired, Tuscan style castle and tasting room does not disappoint. It was easily one of the most picturesque wineries of all the places we visited. Guests can enjoy roaming the castle and a 5 flight tasting for $25 per person or opt for something a little more intimate like the castle’s reservation required guided tour and tasting. The Castle is open November-February 9:30am-5pm and March-October 9:30am to 6pm.
Craving a delicious lunch and in need of some wine tasting fuel, we ventured over to the highly recommended Farmstead restaurant at Long Meadow Ranch. This destination was one of my favorites places from the whole trip. Not only was the farm-to-table food insanely delicious but I loved everything about the farm inspired, rustic-chic atmosphere. In addition to the Farmstead restaurant, Long Meadow Ranch also offers wine tasting in their general store, Stumptown coffee served at their outdoor cafe, and many seasonal events throughout the year. Regardless of where you decide to taste, definitely add the Farmstead to your restaurant list! Open 7 days a week 7am-10pm.
After a filling lunch we continued South towards Yountville and treated ourselves to some afternoon bubbly at Domaine Chandon. This property felt bigger than most and seemed a little more populated, however the vast open lawn outside the tasting room is the perfect spot to kick up your feet and enjoy the beautiful afternoon. Walk ins are welcome but call ahead if you’re interested in a tour or would like to enjoy a large group tasting. Domaine Chandon tastings are available daily from 10am-4:30pm.
To round off our day of tastings we headed back past downtown Napa and concluded the day at Artesa. Located atop a beautiful vineyard lined hill this was the perfect setting to sip a glass of wine and watch the bright pink sunset. Know for its unique architectural style and panoramic views, I’d definitely recommend Artesa for the last tasting of the day. Artesa’s tasting room is open daily from 10am-5pm.
A few other walk in wineries on our list that we didn’t quite have enough time to visit this trip include:
DOMAINE CARNEROS: Located just down the road from Artesa, Domaine Carneros is known for it’s sparking wine, pinot noir, and grand Chateaux exterior. Tastings start at $30 per person and the tasting room is open from 10am-5:30pm.
SCRIBE: Located in Sonoma, just a ten+ minute drive from Carneros, Scribe is said to be the “up-and-coming winery to visit”. Their tasting room is currently undergoing improvements, but should be opening back up within weeks, but check before you visit.
For a fall trip to Napa I knew I wanted to play up autumn’s earthy tones. I lived in this super cozy, chunky Alice and Olivia sweater along with classic denim jeans and neutral block heel booties. If there’s one staple I can’t get enough of this fall, it’s this Brixton wide brim hat. I’ve been wearing it nonstop this season and finally got the chance to break in my new Sole Society bag!
That concludes my suggestions for walk in Napa wineries and what I wore for our first day of tastings. Even with that extensive list there are still SO many properties to see and many areas of Napa to explore but this should be a solid starting resource to help you plan! Later this week I’ll be sharing more from our travels and giving my top recs on the wineries that require reservations. Then to round off our Napa trip I’m bringing you inside our adorable home away from home, the White House Inn.