travel // st. helena


Last month, the hubs and I went to St. Helena in the Napa Valley for our annual anniversary vacation. To date, it was probably our most favorite trip yet! Rather than sticking to the popular, "corporate" wineries along Highway 29--which runs North-South through the valley--we chose some more off the beaten path wineries to try instead. This made for such a memorable, fun experience! We learned so much about wine-making just by talking to the people that worked in the tasting rooms. And because many of these weren't overrun by tourists, we got a little bit of special treatment including a private tour of one and a barrel tasting at the other (usually these types of things are added costs to a normal tasting.) If you're planning a trip to wine country anytime soon, here are my recommendations for lodging, food, and (of course) wineries.

STAY

The Harvest Inn is a wonderful place right off of Highway 29 tucked behind towering trees and a gorgeous vineyard with sunset mountain views. Our room was spacious and always clean, which I appreciated. We had our own back patio with a hot tub and lounge chair, perfect for an evening glass of vino and stargazing. We lucked out and happened to be there during the Perseid meteor shower and witnessed a breathtaking show! Every morning started off with a few laps around the vineyard and a delicious breakfast at the hotel restaurant Harvest Table. The inn has two pools perfect for an afternoon siesta in between wine tastings. The staff were impeccably professional and friendly. I can't recommend Harvest Inn enough if you plan to visit St. Helena!

EAT

The hubs and I enjoyed a delicious dinner at Farmstead on our actual 5 year anniversary. I knew it was a highly rated restaurant in the area and made it a mission to go. Because of its popularity you should definitely make reservations on Open Table ahead of time. Hubs and I split the caramelized beets and fried green tomatoes for appetizers and ordered the gnocchi and ribs for entrees. All the food was decadent and spectacular. Farmstead only charges a $5 corkage fee when you bring in a local bottle of wine, which is very reasonable! (We brought a bottle we had purchased from Plumpjack earlier.)


Other notable eats: Oakville Grocery (pictured above), La Luna, Himalayan Sherpa Kitchen

DRINK

Silver Oak, Oakville // Beautiful grounds, not crowded, great cabs.
Clockwise: Plumpjack, Saddleback, Frog's Leap
Plumpjack, Oakville // Off the beaten path, robust tasting menu, very intimate and personal. Call ahead.

Saddleback, Oakville // Off the beaten path, beautiful grounds, robust tasting menu, can do tastings outdoors. Call ahead.

Frog's Leap, Rutherford // Gorgeous grounds, much more crowded, so-so tasting, not as personal. Call ahead.

Groth, Oakville // Very intimate tasting, museum-like atmosphere, friendly staff. Call ahead.

Casa Nuestra, St. Helena // Our favorite winery. Very intimate and personal tasting experience, great wines, off the beaten path, friendly staff. Call ahead.

Next time, we will try...
Chateau Montelena, Calistoga
Lava Vine, Calistoga
Chappellet, St. Helena

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