Wine. Girlfriends. No kids. That was my birthday weekend, y’all. I rang in 35 years of life with two of my very best friends in the heart of wine country – the beautiful Napa Valley! And it was ev-er-y-thing.
This trip could not have come at a better time. With my main squeeze gone all summer (with the exception of my trip and another week in there) this mama needed a break. And what could be better than spending four days drinking wine and laughing with your friends about your ailments (topics of conversation amongst friends evolve over time, my younger friends…)?
Since I live in Cali I got to pick up my girls from the airport and drive us to Napa in my swanky Prius. After a little detour for shopping (obvs.), we arrived at our adorable ‘hotel’, RiverPointe. We called it our trailer park cottage because that’s basically what it was. All of the ‘rooms’ are separate structures with hitches. But they are adorable! I loved that they are separate so we didn’t have to deal with noisy neighbors. We shared a small patio with a table and chairs with the building next to us, and we had our own parking space. The entire community is shaded, there are trails that go by the river and they have activities going on daily. It was great for us and what we had in mind, but it would also be wonderful for families.
And it even comes with your own SWAG LAMP. I mean, what more could you ask for??
We kicked off our girls’ trip with dinner at the lovely Allegria, which was only a 6 minute drive from RiverPointe. I think you could audibly hear all of our worries melt away as we sat at that table and relaxed. It was wonderful.
We headed back to our ‘cottage’ and spent the evening catching up. Facebook and phone calls are one thing, but being in person is just a million times better, isn’t it? I can’t tell you how much I miss these girls on the daily.
The next day we got up and headed to breakfast at Alexis Baking Company, which is a MUST if you are visiting Napa. I had the ricotta lemon pancakes which were DIVINE. I had a serious hankering for pancakes for some reason. I even dreamed of going to Aunt Jemima’s restaurant and getting some. It was bad. Lemon is not my favorite flavor, but it was all they had and I just HAD TO HAVE ME PANCAKES. And y’all, I’m so glad I did because they were TO DIE FOR. Sorry, Aunt J.
After breakfast we decided to walk along the river front toward the Historic Napa Mill, visiting the welcome center and some shops that happened to be open. Even sat on the ginormous #riverfrontchair because…Immatourist.
We uber’d it to the stunning Domaine Carneros Winery for a reserved tasting. They led us onto their grand patio where we sat at a covered table overlooking the vineyards, sipping on champagne and Pinot Noir. It was perfection, really.
We headed to Oxbow Market and perused the vendors to find something for lunch. There is so much to choose from, that it’s almost a little overwhelming, especially with crowds. Ultimately we chose to eat at the famous Gott’s Roadside, which is known for their burgers. For some insane reason I really wasn’t feeling a burger and got the orange chicken salad instead, which I wasn’t impressed with, but their garlic fries were SPOT ON.
We headed back to our room and hung out for a bit before heading out to dinner. We spotted Angele near the mill that morning and decided to give it a try. It is authentic French cuisine, which, if you aren’t familiar with it, may seem a bit daunting! But my dish was SO GOOD and exactly what I needed: roasted chicken with an apple, squash, parm and tomato salad on the side. Simple, clean and delicious.
We ended the evening with a short tasting at Vintage Sweet Shop, which is right next to Angele. They pair chocolate with wine, so need I say more?
The next morning we drove up to Yountville to V Market to get on our wine trolley tour with Napa Valley Wine Tours. Y’all, Yountville is NICE. Too expensive for us to stay in, or we would’ve totally done so. You will find some incredible restaurants there, including French Laundry, which is known as one of the top restaurants in the world. Would’ve loved to have eaten there, but I need to make more money first! But it’s a beautiful place to visit.
Our wine trolley was open-air, which was nice on the way up since it was morning, but just a BIT warm on the way back, but I’ll get to that. Ladies, if you go be sure to bring an elastic for your hair because your nicely done hair will have a nice wind-blasted look when it’s all over. Our first stop was in Calistoga, which is in the northern-most part of the valley. We got to drive past all the vineyards on the way, which was fun to see and pretty relaxing (sans the wind-blasted hair).
The first winery on our tour was Castello di Amorosa, which is a must-see! It’s a castle that was built by the owner of V. Sattui winery. It took 14 years and $40 million to build! They paid so much attention to detail when creating this place! The chairs were handmade in Tuscany, the ironwork all done by a blacksmith, artifacts from the 16th century…it’s really incredible. I HIGHLY recommend getting a full tour of the place so you can see everything and learn about all of the details. They hold countless events here, including Havana night where some of the dancers from Dancing With the Stars were coming in to teach people how to dance! They even have a haunted costume ball around Halloween that would be so much fun to attend! Anyway, we had a great tour, a private tasting and a few minutes to tour the store. Wish we had had more time, but so glad we went!
We hopped back on our trolley and headed to our next stop: Clos Pegase. A much more modern winery, Clos Pegase is a beautiful winery just south of Calistoga. They have immense, beautiful caves that hold their casks of wine. We took a short tour and ate lunch there, which was way too short. By this time all three of us were having a grand ‘ol time! We made friends with everyone and were just loving life! Ha!
By the time we got to our third stop, Flora Springs, we were wined out! We didn’t even partake in the tasting because these mamas were just tired, y’all. We can’t party like we used to. Ha! So we hung out in an unused tasting room until it was time to go. Lovely winery and grounds, though!
At the end of our tour we were burning up and ready to relax. We got in the car and drove to our next hotel, Calistoga Spa Hot Springs Resort. It was within walking distance of everything (especially coffee!), which was so nice. I totally failed to take pictures of our room, but it was nice and updated. The shower even had a rock floor and partial glass door. However, because the entire place is set up in motel-fashion (which is kind of a thing in this area), the AC just could not keep up during the day. It cooled down at night, but it was a bit too warm during the day for our liking. We did get a fan, though, which helped. All of the rooms of the hotel surround the pool, hot tub (which is huge) and fire pit, and there are nice seating areas in front of each room.
We ate dinner in town and then headed back to the hotel to catch up with our families before passing out.
The next morning we walked 3 minutes to Calistoga Roastery, which is a very popular place amongst the locals. Their funky decor and high ceilings made this place unique, and their food and coffee was totally worth the wait in line. They also roast their own coffee beans, which you can buy on-site. Unfortunately, my girl Erin had a migraine, so my friend Jamie and I just hung out there talking for awhile to let Erin sleep it off.
We walked around downtown Calistoga a bit, exploring the area and venturing down some side streets to gawk at all the gorgeous homes in the area. Calistoga has more of a country feel than the rest of the towns in Napa Valley. Each has similarities and differences, and Calistoga is a little more laid back, while maintaining that Napa charm. All of homes in Calistoga are unique and old and beautiful. I could retire here for sure. I just need to get published and sell a billion books.
Erin was still battling her migraine afterwards, so Jamie and I headed to V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena, which is just lovely. I seem to be using that word a lot, but Napa Valley is just that! V. Sattui is a must visit for families. They have large picnic grounds (although you cannot bring your own food/drink in), a deli, and tons of specialty food items. Their barside tasting was the cheapest of all of them – only $15 for up to 5 wines! Our hostess was not the nicest, but she may have just been having a bad day. We were drinking wine, so we didn’t care! We went on a Sunday, and they had BBQ and gelato on the grounds as well, so we had to partake. I was a little hesitant because this Texas girl knows BBQ, and I was not confident that California did! But it was delicious! Being a weekend, the winery was quite busy, but it was probably one of my favorite wineries of the trip.
We walked around St. Helena for awhile, which is so adorable. The streets are lined with unique shops and smaller wineries. But y’all, it was HOT. We would’ve stayed longer had it been cooler, but we were just ready to get back to A/C!
We ventured back to the hotel and Erin had finally conquered her migraine, so we hung out a bit before getting ready for dinner. We had planned on visiting Darioush Winery, which is incredibly cool because they have a gondola you can ride from the winery over the vineyards (only in the mornings, though…they shut it down when it gets really warm because it gets too hot inside the gonola), but we were wined out and just wanted to relax.
We had our final meal of the weekend at Sam’s Social Club in Calistoga which is SO GOOD. Like, so so so good, y’all. Reservations are recommended, but it is definitely worth checking out.
This trip was nourishing to my soul. I wasn’t elated about turning 35, and the past year has been personally difficult and exhausting, but seeing and spending time with these girls filled me up and changed my attitude. I love them so much and am grateful we got to take this trip together!