Experience Napa Valley in a Day

Experience Napa Valley in a Day


This column is authored by Girl & the Bay Food & Wine Editor, Megan Sokhn of SF Wine Society. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

When visiting Napa Valley, planning ahead is critical to maximizing the fun you have on your journey. This guide is designed to help you efficiently taste and eat your way through wine country without missing a drop. Something important that needs to be sorted out before you plan your day trip to Wine Country is transportation - we highly encourage bribing a DD with delicious meals throughout the day or hiring a local car service. 

Experience Napa Valley in a Day


Plan to get into town by 10:00am. Most tasting rooms open between 10:00-11:00am and close around 4:00pm. You’ll want to have enough time to leisurely visit between 2-3 wineries and have a chance to stop for lunch. Getting into town early is critical to your productivity and of course your fun. 

You will also want to assure that you’ve had a hearty breakfast beforehand because our FIRST STOP is….BUBBLES! But hey, who are we kidding, champagne for breakfast is also a great idea. The last piece of advice I leave you before getting into the details of our excursion is to remember: wine tasting is a marathon, not a race.

Experience Napa Valley in a Day


Domaine Carneros

Our first stop in Napa is the gorgeous Domaine Carneros winery. We always recommend tasting sparkling wine first to prep your palette. Think of it as the appetizer of wine tasting.  Also, if you taste sparkling wine after bolder red wines, its hard to get the full essence of delicate sparkling varietals. Location-wise, Domaine Carneros is the perfect start to your wine tasting journey as it’s situated just at the beginning of Napa. Not to mention the breathtaking views their outdoor patio offers. They open at 10:00 am and we recommend making a reservation as it’s a pretty popular place and fills up fast.  

Chimney Rock Winery

Now we’re beginning our journey on the famous Silverado Trail. Our first stop is Chimney Rock winery. Chimney rock is known for their beautiful South African style architecture and delicious estate grown cabernet sauvignon. When you arrive, grab a glass and take a seat outside on their gorgeous patio.

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

Just up the road is the historic Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars (not to be confused with Stags’ Leap Winery). Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars was the first Napa Valley winery to put California wines on the map by winning the infamous 1976 “Judgement of Paris” wine competition. Not only is their Cabernet Sauvignons iconic but their recently remodeled tasting room is beyond gorgeous with floor to ceiling window views of the vineyards. Reservations required.

(Don’t get this winery confused with Stags’ leap winery which is practically named the same with the exception of the apostrophe’s location.  The story behind these rival wineries is an interesting one which we will touch on another time- we’ve got too much wine to taste today.)

Experience Napa Valley in a Day

Lunch Break at Auberge du Soleil

Now that you’re feeling really great and practically a wine expert, it’s time to stop for lunch. One of our favorite lunch spots is The Restaurant at Auberge Du’ Soleil. When you arrive, put you’re your name down for patio seating and before you know it you will be dining in wine country heaven with the most incredible valley views. Almost everything on the menu is fantastic but the kanpachi crudo and maine lobster salad are couple of our favorites.

Experience Napa Valley in a Day

Raymond Winery

Now that your appetites are properly satiated, its time to get back on the tasting wagon and luckily we have the perfect stop just 3 minutes up the road.  Raymond Winery is by far the most unique and stylish in Napa Valley.  Owned by the famously French and fabulous, Jean-Charles Boisset, you really wouldn’t expect anything less than extravagance. Head over to the Crystal Cellar for your tasting and take in the Baccarat Chandeliers and crystal collection as well as the exposed stainless steel fermentation tanks with go-go dancer inspired mannequins hanging from the piping.  If that’s not exciting enough for you, check out the Red Room where you will be transported back in time to the roaring 20s with ceiling to floor red velvet, art deco furniture, and a speakeasy saloon vibe.

We hope you’ve enjoyed your wine tasting journey with us.  Like any good time, we are sad that its come to an end but have no fear - there is so much more of wine country to explore. We are just getting started! Stay tuned for the next Wine Country guide. 

Experience Napa Valley in a Day