Your Destination Anywhere

A Perfect Long Weekend in Napa Valley

By Alysse Harrison

Sometimes you just need a quick weekend getaway with your bestie.  I was lucky enough to spend a long weekend in NorCal visiting my bestie who is working in the Bay Area temporarily right now.  I took a morning flight to San Francisco and landed in the middle of the afternoon.

Let me tell you, we went to a tapas restaurant for happy hour that is in Oakland and WOW, it was awesome! La Marcha Tapas Bar has an amazing happy hour special from 4-6 pm where they offer a free tapas with the purchase of a glass of wine.  Also, they had two happy hour specials for wine, so I got a glass of amazing Malbec and a tapa of brussels sprouts for $6.  You can hardly find a glass of wine anywhere for $6 much less for that to also include some food.  It was absolutely the perfect way to start our trip out.  Now, since I was visiting a friend, we stayed over at her place in Oakland the first night and opted not to spend $$ on a hotel in San Fran.  Dinner that night was at Homeroom, a remarkable mac-n-cheese restaurant in Oakland.  If you know me…cheese is the way to my heart.  Seriously, I think over the whole weekend the primary ingredients in everything I consumed were cheese and wine. There are many neat bars and nightlife activities to do in Oakland.  We headed out to White Horse Inn which is a historic gay bar.  We had so much fun dancing the night away.  One thing I love about Oakland is how casual it is.  People were comfortable and relaxed.  This bar also offers a free drink if you show your student ID. Even though I have been out of college for 10 years, I still carry it around hoping it would come in handy and this night it did!

The next morning, we woke up fairly early and got on the road north to Napa.  We stopped for brunch at the adorable Boon Fly Café.  This is one of the best brunch places in the Napa/Sonoma area.  All of the food and drinks are remarkable so if you find yourself in Napa, put this place on your must-stop restaurants.  They are known for their amazing homemade donuts.  They taste better than any donuts I have ever had…I promise you do not want to miss out on these.  I ate the eggs Benedict and Natasha had chicken and waffles.  Both of us finished our plates and were so satisfied. Also, the bloody mary comes with an entire large piece of crispy bacon. You’re welcome.

After brunch we stopped by our hotel and checked-in and dropped our bags.  For this trip, we stayed at The Cedar Gables Inn.  This is an adorable bed and breakfast that is super affordable right near downtown Napa.  It is very conveniently located. It is a very quiet hotel and isn’t staffed with people all the time so you have to be careful in making your schedule to allow yourself to be there during the check-in window.  If you are going to Napa with your significant other and want a beautiful romantic place to stay, check out The Setting Inn.  My husband and I stayed here about a year and a half ago when he surprised me with a birthday trip to Napa.  This is an adorable bed and breakfast in a historic building that has been totally updated.  It sits on a vineyard with views from your balcony that are to die for.

This hotel is near Yountville which makes it easy for wine tastings being fairly central and right off the main road through the Valley. It is not convenient if you want to walk to places in the evening but if a little bit of seclusion in the heart of wine country is what you are looking for, this is your place!

 So now, for the part, you have probably been waiting for.  My favorite wineries for tastings! There are so many wineries in Napa that it is impossible to visit all of them and so I am positive that there are many incredible ones I don’t know about.  Really you should expect that 3/day is the most you would want to do.  One is because you want to be able to enjoy your time doing the tastings and not feel rushed.  And the other reason is because our livers can’t take too much.

Domain Carneros

This is a winery known for their bubbles.  They are hands down my favorite bubbly wine to consume.  Their winery is actually closer to Sonoma and is stunning.  You can take a tour of the winery which is so interesting.  Winemaking is such a science and an art.  I loved listening to the experts and watching them work.  It makes you appreciate the business and effort that goes into making each bottle something special!


This winery has a beautiful patio overlooking the garden with great views of Napa Valley. Their wines are remarkable. We tasted probably 6 different wines here, 2 whites and 4 reds.  Each one was delicious. I had been a little hesitant to go here because on a previous trip, I visited their sister winery Paraduxx and really wasn’t too impressed.  Thankfully we didn’t let that stop us because we would have been missing out.  Also, right out front of the tasting room here is a gorgeous cherry blossom tree. We were lucky enough to see it in full bloom which was such a treat.

Reynolds Family Winery

The fact that we walked into this winery was such a random gift. On the trip my husband surprised me with, he didn’t set up wine-tasting reservations in advance. I guess he didn’t realize that most wineries require reservations for tastings (especially in the off-season). We were just driving around and decided to turn into this winery and man, what a treat for us. They took us on a tour of the estate, we were able to sample wines that were aging in the tanks and barrels and really experience the different stages of winemaking. It was obvious this family-owned winery values customers and quality. Every single wine we tasted was fantastic! I am sure I am going to say this wrong, but they have wines that have won best of show at the Houston Rodeo. We lived in Houston for over 10 years and so it felt like that winery was a little piece of home. Enjoy basking in the sun on their outdoor terrace and just taking in the amazing views of the Valley.


Let me start by saying remarkable.  Everything about this winery is remarkable.  To get here you have to go off the beaten path a bit and up into the mountains.  While the majority of wineries are situated at the base of the Napa Valley, this vineyard is up on the edges of a mountain.  The views over Napa Valley are incredible but their wine is the true shining champion.  This winery is consistently producing award winning small production red wines. 

Mumm Napa

Another fantastic winery for those of us that love sparkling.  Mumm Napa has some productions that are huge and distributed throughout the world and others that are smaller productions you can only get at the winery or if you are a member.  I personally didn’t love the ones that are mass produced but when they brought out the reserve labels everything changed.  I particularly loved the sparkling Rose! My friend really loved the sparkling here and brought home 4 bottles and joined their club.  Most of their wines are reasonably priced which makes it even more desirable.


Talk about a beautiful and grand experience, which is what you will get at Darioush.  Owned by a Persian family, Darioush is a winery that threads hospitality born of the culture of Tarof.  “It is the art of politeness, rooted in a centuries-old tradition of going beyond one’s means to make the other person feel more at home than home itself.” When you walk in Darioush, you feel like part of the family.  Their red wines are incredible.  They also have stunning bottles that are etched with Persian art that you can add to your collection.   Don’t judge me by my pictures.  Haha, you will take stupid pictures after all the wine also.

Sequoia Grove

This is the only winery we are currently members of.  Obviously, that shows that we love their wine. Now, it was also the last winery my husband and I visited on our trip and so I am not sure we were really tasting differences at the time but thankfully we love their wine and will continue being a member.  I went back to my last trip with Natasha and we were again impressed.  The thing to do at Sequoia Grove is a food pairing with the wines. 

 You have to book this in advance, but I have heard it is remarkable! We enjoyed sitting out in the garden reading through the coffee table book, “Wine Dogs, California.” It is the cutest book with photos of all the vineyard doggies and tells you all about them, what their pet peeves are, their naughtiest deeds, etc. We laughed and laughed flipping through this book.

Again, this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the amazing wineries in Napa/Sonoma.  I have heard that Rams Gate is incredible but unfortunately still haven’t made it to try it out myself.  Other notable wineries we have visited include Silver Oak and Robert Mondavi.

On Sunday we stopped at Bouchon Bakery (a must-see) before heading back to San Francisco. This is a famous bakery and everything we had was excellent.  I had a “Brie-L-T” sandwich with such a thick block of Brie cheese.  It was everything! I also couldn’t pass up a sweet treat and picked up a lemon tart with the most beautiful-looking meringue.  I am a sucker for anything with meringue on it.  Natasha ordered some homemade-looking massive Oreo cookie and a French version of Pot Roast in a bun thingy.  I can’t remember what it was called but it smelled like heaven.

The last thing I wanted to do before heading back home was to stop and see my husband’s Aunt and family in Berkeley and then watch the sunset at the Golden Gate Bridge. We lucked out with such perfect weather and had the best time sitting down on the pier snacking on our desserts from Bouchon while watching the sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge. All of the bridges in the Bay Area are impressive when you think about it. Not only do they look beautiful and have become symbols of the city but also they are architectural masterpieces. Those suspension bridges have to be able to withstand so much. I am glad there are so many smart people out in the world that can create amazing things like that to make our lives so much easier!

Where will your next adventure take you?

Contact Alysse Harrison