Napa Travel Guide

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How Napa Valley is Faring Following Yesterday's Earthquake

August 25, 2014 at 2:55 PM | by | Comments (0)


Above: Robert Mondavi in Napa, which was not damaged

At 3:20am PST on Sunday, a 6.1 earthquake shook the earth 6 miles from Napa, in the heart of California's heavily touristed wine country. Now dubbed the "South Napa Earthquake," the event did cause damage enough to interrupt businesses and tourism, but operations are quickly returning to normal, despite broken wine bottles and power outages.

CNN named a few wineries which felt the shake quite severely: Silver Oak Winery, Etude Wines, and Signorello Estate.

The Downtown Napa tourism board issued an update on the hotels unaffected by the quake:

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Where To Go With Your Tax Refund: Napa Valley, California

March 19, 2013 at 10:55 AM | by | Comments (0)

Tax day is coming, and you're probably excited...but not because you look forward to sifting through receipts and credit card statements. You're excited because you're getting a fat refund. Probably. The economy may be on its way back up, but you should try to stretch that tax refund as far as you can...like with a little "you did a great job last year" trip—a Tax Refund Vacation.

So you scored a decent tax refund this year, so congratulations from us to you on that accomplishment. Let’s celebrate with a drink—or a whole bottle—and we suggest doing so in Napa Valley. It sounds like an expensive proposition, but heading off to California’s wine country can be decently affordable if you’re looking to stretch that return cash from Uncle Sam. On the other side of things there’s plenty of places where you can blow it all on one meal.

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The Adventures of Travel Cat: O'Brien Estate in Napa Valley

March 6, 2013 at 12:45 PM | by | Comments (0)

Kitty cats. They rule the internet and, whether we realize it or not, pretty much the world too. Ever noticed how cats sometimes stake out the coolest spots in a city? This new feature—Travel Cat—focuses on exactly that. Submit a photo to be featured by tweeting or Instagramming it to us (details below).

Travel Cat spotted at: O'Brien Estate winery in Napa Valley, California

This week's Travel Cat is from Jaunted reader and Instagrammer @theangryskittle, who captured this idyllic scene.

Of the moment, he notes it was the "last tasting of the day," and apparently he's made a friend with whom to pass a gray day in the winter vineyard.

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Iron Chef Morimoto's Four Rules for Eating Sushi (Like You Know What You're Doing)

December 21, 2012 at 12:56 PM | by | Comment (1)


Morimoto demonstrates how much wasabi is perfect for a single piece of sashimi

Napa Valley is a weird place. It's kind of demure, with rolling hills blanketed in low rows of lush vineyards, but also kind of action central, as the chances are high that the person cooking your food or pouring your wine is at the top of the industry. Recently we ventured into kitchens, cellars and wineries (all accessible to you, too) in search of the extraordinarly yummy, which really is the norm in Napa.

Contrary to popular opinion, Napa's not only about the wine. Sure, that's a lot of the attraction, but you've got to eat something at some point to keep the drinking and drink appreciation going. That's where restaurants like Morimoto Napa come into play.

As the Flavor! Napa Valley festival only allows chefs with Napa restaurants to participate, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto took the opportunity to share the basics of precision sushi preparation.

Even if you're better at ordering in than turning out beautiful rolls, Morimoto has some tips. In addition to the fun fact that sushi is actually finger food (though chopsticks are of course plenty fine), he's shared with us his four laws of eating sushi. Take notes if you're Japan-bound!

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Napa Valley Normal: Sipping Chardonnay with Delta's Sommelier

December 20, 2012 at 6:04 PM | by | Comments (0)


These "The One" glasses were designed by Andrea

Napa Valley is a weird place. It's kind of demure, with rolling hills blanketed in low rows of lush vineyards, but also kind of action central, as the chances are high that the person cooking your food or pouring your wine is at the top of the industry. Recently we ventured into kitchens, cellars and wineries (all accessible to you, too) in search of the extraordinarly yummy, which really is the norm in Napa.

In-flight wines get such a bad rap. Unlike airplane coffee, which is still all too frequently little better than "brown water," the reds and whites of the trolley have improved enough to warrant an airline bringing in someone like Andrea Robinson to expertly curate wine lists every season.

Andrea, a certified Master Sommelier/best-selling author/wine glass designer, has been the official Delta sommelier since February 2008 and it's her you have to thank for that smooth, in-flight buzz after your second glass because, to her, it's not just about getting blitzed onboard. In fact, Delta's transcontinental BusinessElite wine program turned completely to California wines from this September. The majority are from the Napa Valley, but there's always a focus on the richer, fuller bodied vintages to combat the effects of altitude on our tastebuds.

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Yes, Virginia, There is a Sutter Home Winery

December 12, 2012 at 4:42 PM | by | Comments (0)

Napa Valley is a weird place. It's kind of demure, with rolling hills blanketed in low rows of lush vineyards, but also kind of action central, as the chances are high that the person cooking your food or pouring your wine is at the top of the industry. Recently we ventured into kitchens, cellars and wineries (all accessible to you, too) in search of the extraordinarly yummy, which really is the norm in Napa. Here, we share some of our winery picks.

A visit to: Sutter Home Winery in Saint Helena, California

The label Sutter Home doesn't exactly call to mind a stately mansion presiding over pristine rows of vineyards on prime California grape-growing property, does it? Heck, we only think of grocery store shelves and deciding which cheap, girly wine to buy for inevitable Lifetime movie marathons. Still, we now should say that's what we thought of it before setting foot at the Sutter Home winery itself in Napa, where there is indeed a Sutter Home and a property so lovely on land so expensive we wonder how $6 bottles of wine keep it all together.

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What Napa's Cakebread Cellars Has to Do with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner

December 12, 2012 at 11:07 AM | by | Comments (2)

Napa Valley is a weird place. It's kind of demure, with rolling hills blanketed in low rows of lush vineyards, but also kind of action central, as the chances are high that the person cooking your food or pouring your wine is at the top of the industry. Recently we ventured into kitchens, cellars and wineries (all accessible to you, too) in search of the extraordinarly yummy, which really is the norm in Napa. Here, we share some of our winery picks.

A visit to: Cakebread Cellars in Rutherford, California

Please allow us regale you with a brief story about how we first came to know the name Cakebread and how the small memory brought us here, right to the source at their Cellars in Napa. It was a few months ago and we were dining in a hangar at Boeing to celebrate the debut of LAN's First 787 Dreamliner. We weren't drinking since balancing our iPhone, DSLR and hors d'oeuvres proves a challenge on its own, but then someone said, "you just have to try the Cakebread Chardonnay."

We did try it. And we did like it, so much so that the funny name (which is actually the last name of the producing family) stuck in our head.

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Inside Opus One, Napa Valley's Fanciest Schmanciest Winery

December 12, 2012 at 10:02 AM | by | Comments (0)

Napa Valley is a weird place. It's kind of demure, with rolling hills blanketed in low rows of lush vineyards, but also kind of action central, as the chances are high that the person cooking your food or pouring your wine is at the top of the industry. Recently we ventured into kitchens, cellars and wineries (all accessible to you, too) in search of the extraordinarly yummy, which really is the norm in Napa. Here, we share some of our winery picks.

A visit to: Opus One WInery in Oakville, California

Oh, Opus One. Where to start? As we've already mentioned, Robert Mondavi is the OG winemaker here in Napa Valley, but it wasn't until he partnered up with big-deal French winemaker Baron Philippe de Rothschild to form Opus One that Napa Valley wines started to gain traction on the international scene. The friendship began in 1970, but it wasn't until 1979 that Opus One produced a first vintage and still later yet, in 1991, that the winery got the iconic architecture it calls home.

The vision of both Mondavi and de Rothschild was "spare no expense," and be totally "dedicated to the art form of making wine" to produce a Bordeaux-style red from the famous Californian Cabernet Sauvignon, using centuries of French know-how (and the clout helped too).

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Napa Valley Normal: Drinking with Dean & DeLuca's Wine Director

December 5, 2012 at 1:25 PM | by | Comments (0)

Napa Valley is a weird place. It's kind of demure, with rolling hills blanketed in low rows of lush vineyards, but also kind of action central, as the chances are high that the person cooking your food or pouring your wine is at the top of the industry. All this week and some of next, we'll be venturing into kitchens, cellars and wineries (all accessible to you, too) in search of the extraordinarly yummy, which really is the norm in Napa.

We're kind of shocked. It was just the other week we were in wine country for what would be crash courses on wine identification during the Flavor! Napa Valley Festival. This week, we've been casually blind tasting wines before our own restaurant dinners and nailing it half the time. The other half? We're at least acing our guesses on the varietal. That shiz is cray—our confidence is soaring and a sommelier's visit to our table is no longer met with anxiety. Yay, wine!

This is all thanks to the masters, who showed up to the Flavor! Festival to discuss and, yes, decant some prize wines for the curious public. One such instructor was Kerrin Laz, Director of Wine for Dean & DeLuca.

Kerrin's class, which focused on the Napa wines to know right now, concluded with the lesson to take a proper amount of time to think about what you're seeing, smelling and tasting with each glass. No sommelier should rush you to speak of any aromas or flavor notes; you're the one about to pay for and enjoy that bottle, after all.

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Wish You Were Here: Flavor! Napa Valley Festival

November 16, 2012 at 3:53 PM | by | Comments (2)


Took this photo from out the window of our rental car, just driving along

Confession: I've never made gnocchi before. This likely doesn't shock you, dear reader, but for those who know I once called Rome home and extensively traveled, ate and drank my way around, it's a little "whoa." Dumping vacuum-packed bags of frozen store-bought gnocchi into a pot of boiling water is typically dinner, or was, as today I made gnocchi from scratch in the kitchen with chefs and co-owners Tyler Rodde & Curtis Di Fede of Downtown Napa restaurant Oenotri.

This is actually something Oenotri offers on the regular, hosting both gnocchi and pasta-making classes every other week for $75 per person. This week it's a little magical, however; November 14-18 is the Flavor! Napa Valley Festival, which bills itself as a "celebration of food, wine and fun." So, while Di Fede is telling a story about how they taught 'Iron Chef' Morimoto to make a proper Neapolitan pizza, Morimoto himself may be walking by outside, heading to personally shave truffles over the entrees at the Napa outpost of his eponymous restaurant empire.

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Got $50,000? Then You've Got a Private Jet to Taste 70 Wines in Napa Valley

October 25, 2012 at 12:07 PM | by | Comments (0)


So, which one?

Quick question: do you like wine? How about private jets? Now, how do you feel about wine and a private jet? Exactly. They're awesome on their own, but put the two together and your salivary glands start working overtime.

If you think you can handle tasting 70+ wines in two days after stepping off a Magellan private jet, then listen up. Napa is about to celebrate their second annual wine festival, called Flavor! Napa Valley, and they're doing it in proper baller style by offering a package deal that bundles everything from airport transportation to the private flight to Napa, to a 5-star hotel and the aforementioned wine marathon.

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Napa Valley Brings Classical Music to Classy Vineyards This Month

August 4, 2011 at 11:18 AM | by | Comments (0)

If you’re looking to add a little culture to your next wine tasting adventure look no further than Napa Valley—of course—to class things up. The Music in the Vineyards series begins its 17th season this August where chamber music and other classical tunes arrive in the middle of the vineyards for all the tipsy tourists—and refined locals—to enjoy.

Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are usually when the musicians mingle with the grapes, but be sure to hurry up and book your spot as things are quickly selling out. If you’re a last minute kind of person there’s still some room to check things out this Sunday, August 7, at the Rubicon Estate where Dvorak, Britten, and Brahms will be performed in the barrel room. If that’s too soon there’s still some room the following Sunday—August 14—at Clos Pegase in Calistoga where Beethoven, Bruckner, and Crum are on the menu with your Merlot.

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