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What I Wish I’d Known Before Visiting Napa Valley

When I was considering what to do for my BORING, boring birthday — 26 is absolutely nothing special — I thought wine not go to wine country? In fact, I’ve gone to wine country every November (ahem, Fredericksburg and Dripping Springs guides here!) and I don’t plan on missing that tradition moving forward!

Read about the 5 wineries you have to visit in Napa Valley!

But Napa was a fickle vacation spot for me who had never visited and knew nothing about it. Unlike a lot of places I travel to, I didn’t do enough research. Plus, I learned a lot of things probably not mentioned on the internet. Until now!

Muddy boots

When you’re getting “the shot” in actual, active wineries, you’re going to encounter a little bit of mud. OK, a lot. We went in November, which isn’t even particularly rainy, yet we had booties caked in mud leaving tracks into our cottage. Leave your favorite shoes at home and opt for the easy-to-clean footwear for your day of wine visits. Oh, and comfy too. You might be walking around a lot during a tour.

You will be sleepy after all day of drinking

The rally was real……ly hard. We did two wineries Friday and three on Saturday. We did not make out after, so don’t plan anything ambitious after a day of wine drinking. We hottubbed and ate frozen pizza one night, and that was perfection.

You’re gonna wanna bubbles break

Napa is known for its reds and, after drinking copious amounts of Pinots at Del Dotto, you might want to head Mumm Napa for some bubbles. Trust me.

Ubering is OK

I googled and googled trying to figure out if we were going to be stranded in the middle of nowhere if we tried to Uber, but like most things in my life, I just yolo-ed and prayed it’ll all work out. It did! We stayed within a 30-minute radius from downtown Napa, and had no trouble finding an Uber to and from our wineries, except once. We were the furthest away (at Del Dotto) and the winery was closing up. The gate was closed and we had two Ubers drop us before we finally got someone to bite! Also, since we stayed on a winery, it was hard to explain to our Ubers that, when we said we were going to Black Stallion Winery at 10 pm, all was well and it was very legit.

Where to stay

We had the most beautiful opportunity to stay at Black Stallion Winery as their guests, but I have since learned that most do not have that luxury.

There are plenty hotels to choose from, and Airbnb is definitely an option — just know that you’ll have to factor in a little more travel time and pricier Ubers.

Every winery is different

My experience in Texas wineries is that: you walk in, you order a tasting at a bar for $10-$20, get five small sips in a commemorative glass and then maybe a quick tour around the property. Napa is next level. First of all, tastings are $30 and up. Tours are even more. That being said, you do get a little more wine. In some cases, a lot more wine! I love that variety. Here’s a quick summary of all the different wineries we visited. (And here’s a more indepth one!)

  • Robert Mondavi: Tour (complete with the history of Napa) and a VIP tasting and snacks in the barrel room.
  • Black Stallion: Casual bar-side tasting (there’s a tour option, but we didn’t do it).
  • Goosecross: We got a table for our tasting and our wine expert kind of crafted our wines to our preference (she gave us a quick tour and the history of the winery).
  • Mumm Napa: This was very restaurant style — waited for a table after checking in with a hostess, then ordered off a menu at a table. We got nuts and crackers too by default!
  • Del Dotto: Cave tour and barrel tasting — by far the most different of all the winery visits. We drank wine straight from a barrel underground. Casual.

Tons of photo opps

Four girls took 10K photos in one weekend. (I think I am only exaggerating a little). Between picturesque San Fran and the gorgeous weather of Napa, we clicked and snapped our way through the long weekend. I do wish I would have thought better on poses and sceneries, however I am blessed with more amazing photos than I can even post!

Downtown Napa is kind of a snooze

We rallied Saturday night on a quest to see what downtown Napa had to offer. Spoiler: Not a lot. Aside from the cutie Oxbow Market we visited for breakfast before leaving the next day, the “bars” and restaurants were a lil lame. Napkins was a sports bar and restaurant that had a DJ and colorful lights after a certain time, but it was only OK. We got too tired waiting around for that nightlife time to start, and ended up going home.

You can, in fact, easily transport wine

I got a little nervous thinking about bringing home wine since I had heard such horror stories, but I wrapped my souvenir bottle in a trash bag and stuck it in a boot in the exact middle of my suitcase. Then, when checking it, I told the Southwest employee that the bag had wine in it, and he slapped a fragile tag on it. That bag took WAY too long to come out at Hobby when I landed… I was so worried. But it made it to me, safe and sound! Next time: I try to take TWO wines.

4 thoughts on “What I Wish I’d Known Before Visiting Napa Valley

  1. Love your photos. Your trip looked like a lot of fun. I will definitely use this as a resource next time I go to Napa. I’ve been once before and I didn’t necessarily have a plan but we stopped at two or three places & we had a great time but this was before Uber. Next time I will totally be taking Uber and staying in Napa longer.

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