Napa Valley Vacation: Tips and Review

We had the best trip to Napa. I would highly recommend it for a romantic getaway or a girls weekend, I think everyone will enjoy the beautiful views, amazing wine, and great food!

There is so much to do and see in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys that I’m not sure you could make bad plans. So don’t think this is a collection of the best, but just review of what we did.


Let’s start here because this is what you probably care about.

Sterling Vineyards

This is a bigger winery, probably more of a tourist trap, but I would go again anyway! They are located just south of Castiloga, and just across from the Castello di Amorosa, which is probably similar as far as price and views go, but they have a castle instead of a gondola. We opted for gondola at Sterling.

At Sterling, you pay $35 for a wineglass you can keep, a four-wine tasting, and a ride on said gondola.

The views were amazing.

And they had my favorite wine of the entire trip. My major regret was not buying a bottle and hauling it home wrapped in my dirty clothes in my suitcase.

Hagafen Cellars

If I was going tasting at only one place, this is hands down my pick! It’s a small, Kosher winery that has a tasting menu with about 15 different wines, from which you can choose 5 and go at your own pace. It was fun not to have to all taste together and to choose the wines you want to try. They also allow you free reign of their 12 acres including walking out into the vines, their patio, and their barrel room.

You need an appointment to taste and the cost is $20/person (waived if you buy two bottles). We got a discount since we were on a tour…more on that later.

We purchased two bottles of their 2017 Reisling to bring home.


Our second stop was Silenus. They had a more official sit-down and all taste together approach, but they did have two menus to choose from and actually offered a white wine-only option.

They have a cool story. It’s almost like a wine co-op in that a bunch of different wine makers pay to use the Silenus equipment to make their wines. They basically lease out space and equipment to other small winemakers who cannot afford the major investment. This means their tasting room features wines from a ton of different winemakers, all of whom make their product here.


This was probably my favorite tasting area of them all because of their beautiful patio. Comfy chairs, blooming roses, and amazing views made us all wish we could have stayed longer.

By this point, wine was starting to all taste the same to me so I can’t really tell you what to try.


This is a new operation that has set up a tasting room in the Napa airport. They are different than the other wineries on the valley and it was interesting to talk to them and learn about their marketing and social media approach to wine. All of their wines are named after a hashtag, like #bromance (their red that the red wine drinkers raves about) or #besties.

If you are in to marketing and social media and thinking outside the box, this is a cool stop.


We stayed at the Hawthorne Suites in Napa. It’s not super fancy, but we got a great deal and we’re quite happy with this hotel. Everything was clean, bed was good, and they served a really good breakfast. You can spend loads of money (over $1000/night) in Napa or Sonoma, but if you want a deal, check out Hawthorne Suites.

One other tip, I wouldn’t limit my search to just Napa or just Sonoma. There are lots of little towns in the valley that we drove through going to different places that would have been fine to stay in. Castiloga, St. Helena, Oakville, etc would all be good options.


I for sure gained 5 pounds. The food was amazing!

Our favorite restaurant was Rutherford Grill. A friend had recommended we go and he was absolutely right! It wasn’t insanely expensive (about $40/person for entrees and an appetizer). Ty raves about the Campfire Ribeye and he never loves steak unless he cooks it. I had the tri-tip and butternut squash and kale enchilada and for real, it was to-die-for.

We liked it so much we went back a second time! Ty had a French Dip (so good!) and I stuck with the enchilada. We also had the cornbread appetizer (not on the menu) and trust me when I tell you that you have to order it.

We hit up an Italian restaurant in Downtown Napa called Ristorante Allegra. It was good, but not amazing like the Rutherford Grill. Ty had the filet and I had the pesto gnocchi. The atmosphere was cool–it’s in a beautiful old bank building.


We opted to do one of the bus winery tours. Unless you have your own driver, I think its the way to go. They pick up and drop off at your hotel, take you to multiple wineries, you get discounts on tasting fees, you get lunch, and they give you lots of good info about wine-making.

Also, you can meet some really fun people! We actually went to dinner afterwards with an amazing couple–she from Scotland, he from Australia, living in Saudi Arabia.

We chose Platypus Tours because of a flier in our lobby. Ask for Bob. He was an amazing guide!

Also, if you are into hiking, hit up Alston Park. I went for a run and it was a bit hilly for that business, but it had amazing views!


There you have it! I would highly recommend a trip to Napa! I would also say don’t let the prices completely freak you out. You really can do it on a budget if you shop for a hotel, eat the free breakfast there, and then splurge a little on dinners!

One thought on “Napa Valley Vacation: Tips and Review

  1. This was so fun to read.
    I now have a new favorite picture of you and Ty : the close-up with you in pearls and Ty with beatific expression. Wonderful.


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