Lucie Loves... Travel // California road trip ~ part two: Wine tasting in Napa Valley
If you read part one of our California road trip, you’ll have seen us trying to cram in as much – food/culture and sightseeing – as humanly possible, into just three and a bit days in San Francisco. It was fabulous, yes. But also quite exhausting too.
San Fran ain’t cheap either! We definitely got a really good deal staying in the B&B that we did.
So, for days 4 and 5, when it came to the second stop on our road trip of a lifetime, we thought: “Ok, guys… let’s get out of the city! Let’s wander through vineyards, quaff loads of wine and chill the fuck out.”
FACT: There are over 400 wineries in Napa Valley alone (over 600+ if you include Sonoma too.)
Day 4 - Wednesday // San Francisco to Napa Valley
We booked in to stay at The Ivy a rather personality-void, but well-located hotel from The Bestwestern group.
Having looked it up again (to write this post) I was rather unsurprised to see that it has shut down… I mean, if you’ve stayed there, you’ll know what I mean when I say they did a really economical, pre-school-esq breakfast buffet! We ate with plastic forks off paper plates and primary coloured trays.
After seeing our room – which I have to say was pretty decent – I was utterly dismayed at the fact that breakfast was like a school canteen… and not even a school canteen that Jamie Oliver had shaken a whisk at!
Anyway, the hotel was a place to stay, and reasonably cheap at £100 per person for the duration of the 2 nights we stayed in Napa Valley. We shared a room between the three of us that had two double beds. Roz and I took one, and Marcos the other.
“The Napa Valley is Disneyland for alcoholics.” says Bill Maher, and he isn’t bloody wrong! We did a bit of research before hand and decided to opt for some of the pricier wine-tasting options.
“Be honest” he continues… “you’re not visiting wineries in four days because you’re an oenophile, you’re doing it because you’re a drunk. It’s the only place in America where you can pass out in a stranger’s house and it’s okay, because it’s a B&B and you paid for it.” ― Bill Maher
Our first wino stop in Napa, was a rather sensible stomach lining mission at Il Posto Trattoria – an Italian restaurant conveniently within walking distance of our hotel.
Despite us being the only customers – it was a lunchtime – the service was good and the food was very tasty too… and I think we might have turned the air blue with our conversation! Haha!
If you’re in the area, the meatballs at Il Posto are fantastic! Portions are HUGE though: Brits beware! Americans rejoice!
We then got a lift with the world’s oldest Uber drive, Josef. Uber drivers are few and far between in Napa… be warned! This guy… in the end… got us there safely.
But damn! It was an edge of your seat ride to Scribe Winery, and the lovely Penelope – you’ll see how lovely she is too when you meet her! So wholesome!! We were in desperate need of several glasses of wine by the time we clambered out of that cab. Phew!
Initially, we thought wine tasting in Napa had to be like being on a school trip. General consensus was: we don’t really give a shit about the grape – just give us wine.
But, as we sat there, atop a hill, in the shade of an ancient tree – wrapped in Mexican multi-coloured blankets and sipping glasses of some of THE BEST WINE WE’D EVER TASTED! We were suddenly taken in by it all.
The sheer beauty of our surroundings was quite a sight to behold.
Oh California! You really do have it all.
Our wine-tasting session at Scribe Winery, consisted of a flight of wine (about 4 glasses each) and a small cheese board with fruit and nuts, cost us around $35 pp. And was so very worth it. Marcos even bought a couple of bottles to take back to London, he was that smitten.
We then, feeling a little sleepy from all the wine, called another cab and went back to our hotel for a nap.
Later that night, we were on the lookout for where to go on a Wednesday night that’s lively in Napa… CADET Wine & Beer Barwas suggested, and off we trundled for another tasting session of 5 wines and more cheese. It was heaven!
However, Napa on a Wednesday night is not wild… so after emptying all of the glasses and devouring the cheese, we went straight back to our hotel.
Day 5 - Thursday // Napa Valley to Yosemite
We managed to cram in quite a lot on this day. That is after our paper plate and primary colour tray breakfasts, of course…
First we splashed out $12 each to see ‘The Old Faithful’ Geyser, visit the small animal farm and get caught in a torrential downpour, all in the hope of seeing a couple of fainting goats – which we didn’t.
We then carried on our drive to the Calistoga Hot Springs and their famous mud baths… priced at around $60-80 each.
I would honestly say that this mud bath experience and thermal spa was probably one of the funniest moments of the trip.
A video posted by Lucie (@lucieloves) on Apr 15, 2016 at 9:45am PDT
Firstly, we saw one another naked – looking like baby hippos cavorting in the mud – and had to be hosed down afterwards. Then, we all fell asleep in the relaxation room and felt completely out of it when we came back round.
It was such a bizarre experience. Roz was particularly traumatised by it and probably will never recover. Sorry mate.
In need of another drink after to debrief after the mud bath saga, we headed to Stag’s Leap Winery. This one is a little bit more modern looking than Scribe, in terms of the terrace. Scribe is more rustic in comparison.
Stag’s Leap wine cellars also offering a tasting flight of wines, this time for around $45pp. You also get one of their team coming over to talk you through each wine. As you drink, you look out across the vineyards and can see where the grapes for that particular wine are grown. It’s pretty spectacular.
We then had our FIRST EVER In & Out burger – which was pretty novel in itself! Those bloody hats! We even wore them driving back to our hotel to have a nap.
Later that night we went to Napa’s Bounty Hunter Wine Bar. The BBQ platter was the perfect sharing dish for dinner, paired with a couple of glasses of really good red wine.
That night we went to bed early, so that we’d feel fresh the next day. We were about to make the 170 mile journey, in pursuit of stop number three of our road trip. Which takes approximately 3 hours 30 minutes to drive from Napa to Yosemite.
After drinking more wine than anyone really needs in two days… Yosemite was definitely calling…
Want to find out more about our Californian adventure?
Keep your eyes peeled for the next instalment of the #LucieLovesCali road trip, as we embark on the beautiful drive north from San Francisco to Napa Valley and do a bit of wine tasting. The scenery alone is worth waiting for!
Have a read of our full Lucie Loves11 day California road trip itinerary.
Photography © Lucie Kerley