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24 Hours in Napa

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My Mom and I ended our time in California’s wine country with 24 hours in Napa. We drove the 30 minutes over from Sonoma so that we could have a new jumping off point. I prefer Napa to Sonoma because I think downtown Napa is absolutely charming and it is so easily walkable. At the end of the day we could uber back to our hotel, and easily walk around town and have dinner. It felt like there was more to explore in Napa, plus many of the wineries were near each other.

Our first winery visit was the one we were looking forward to the most: Robert Sinskey Vineyards. They make one of our favorite wines, and it was the most memorable experience from my previous trip to Napa. We were treated to a private tour and tasting. The tour took us through the production area and cellars, and we ended up on the gorgeous patio.


While Sinskey wines on their own are exceptional, the experience of visiting Sinskey is also more food focused than other wineries. Maria Helm Sinskey, the daughter in law of the vineyard’s founder, Bob Sinskey, is a notable chef and the “Chief Cook” at Robert Sinskey. She is also the genius behind the incredible snacks at the winery. I have dreams about these snacks. The gougeres, airy pastries seasoned with Parmesan, rosemary, and thyme are bites of heaven. The rosemary and salt seasoned almonds sound so simple but they are addictive. The cheeses, breads, savory biscuits, crackers, and jams are the perfect snacks to enjoy while sipping wine.

Sinskey’s POV, a red wine blend, is one of my all time favorite wines. It is a really delightful easy to drink red. The “POV” stands for point of view and the wine represents Bob Sinskey’s point of view. The wine full of body and flavor without being overt fruity or overly tannic. It’s the type of wine you can bring to a party and anyone who likes red will like this wine. It is also affordable – it retails for about $40 and I do see it on wine lists at Chicago restaurants.


POV might be one of my favorites, but I also love Sinskey’s Pinot Noirs, something the winery is known for. I wanted to bring back a couple of bottles that I can’t find in Chicago, and I picked two bottles of Pinot Noir. The first is Los Carneros Pinot Noir, and I bought this knowing Charles would love it. The second is Four Vineyards Pinot Noir, Sinskey’s Premium Pinot Noir, which is made with a blend of grapes from Sinskey’s four Napa vineyards. This wine has a bit more complexity than the Los Carneros Pinot Noir. The 2012 vintage of both Pinot Noirs is currently being sold, and winemakers are saying that the 2012 wines are exceptional.


Robert Sinskey Vineyards is located on the Silverado Trail, right in the center of the action in Napa. If you are in Napa, put this number one on your list. It should also be noted that RSV isn’t just organic, it’s also biodynamic. They believe that ” fine wines shouldn’t hurt – your palate or the planet”. It’s an idea I can get behind.

Cakebread Cellars is just down the street from Sinskey, so we went there next. We did a tasting, and the wine was good, but the experience wasn’t anything special. We did the tasting while standing in the production area, and it felt rushed like a business transaction. Perhaps the tours are better, but the tasting wasn’t anything too special, and Cakebread wines are readily available at most wine shops.


Next we followed the Silverado Trail to Miner Family Wines, another recommendation from my friends at Formento’s. Miner is up on a hill with sweeping views of the vineyards below, and the wine was wonderful. This tasting was informal, but fun. The tasting room is up on the second floor, and you can pick which tasting you want to do. I loved the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon; it’s rich full and bodied wine without being overly tannic.


Miner doesn’t require appointments for tastings, and it is central location makes it a perfect stop if you find yourself with a little extra time on your hands. They have a beautiful patio seating area where you can lounge, drink wine, enjoy the view, and try to plot ways to move to Napa.


Our first winery visit was at 10:15am – so we still had plenty of time for another stop after Miner. Our favorite Uber driver Raul (he drove us between all the vineyards) recommended that we stop at Caymus Vineyards, both because their wines are fabulous, and because it is a short drive from Miner. While Caymus doesn’t have a view like Miner, the grounds are beautiful. The tasting was informal, in a good way. The tasting was led by an friendly and enthusiastic young man who wants to become a winemaker. As we tasted wine, our new friend started to pour wines that he thought we would like. I liked this less structured approach. I am not sure if it is always like that, but I discovered some new wines that I really like. One that is very affordable is the Conundrum Red, a red blend that retails for about $25.


After Caymus, Raul dropped us off at our hotel and we wandered through Napa. We stopped at Gott’s for milkshakes, and eventually made our way to Ca-Momi Osteria for dinner where we dined on pizza and pasta. We needed some carbs to offset all the wine, and the food was quite good.


The next morning we had breakfast in bed at our hotel, the Napa River Inn. Why did we have breakfast in bed? Because breakfast is included in your hotel stay, and you can opt to have breakfast delivered to your room for no extra charge. Seriously. It was delightful! Breakfast came from Sweetie Pies, a darling little bakery with the cutest name located beside the hotel.


Another thing I should mention about the Napa River Inn? Parking and WiFi were both free. Oh, and when we showed up at the hotel way before check in – at 9:30am – the room was ready within 10 minutes. This place is amazing.

I also want to let you know that Uber worked flawlessly in Napa. Since most of the wineries are on the Silverado Trail, Uber drivers seem to congregate in that area and they made it to us within 5 minutes every time. We spent a small fraction of what a driver would have cost.

My Mom and I had the best time in Sonoma and Napa! If you missed my other posts about Napa and Sonoma you can read them here and here. Or if you want to read about the trip Charles and I took to Napa for my 30th birthday, you can find those posts here and here.

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