Thursday, September 28, 2006

Picnicking in the Napa Valley - Part II

Many of the picnic areas in the Napa Valley are located at wineries on the Silverado Trail. However, one nice spot on Route 29 is Hall Winery in St. Helena. The winery is located next door to Dean and Deluca so it easy to get your supplies and then head to the winery for lunch. The historic tasting room was built in 1885. Outside is a small, picnic area under the trees.

If you are in the southern end of the Napa Valley, there are a few good spots for picnics. Clos du Val and Regusci in the Stags Leap District both have tables that are shaded by surrounding trees. Both wineries have excellent red wines. Clos du Val is best known for Cabernet, but also has Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. Regusci is a small, family winery. Their production is limited, so at times they are sold out of some of their wines. However, their Cabernet and Merlot are usually available for tasting. Regusci's wines are big. If you like this style, don't miss this winery.

A little further north, where Yountville Cross meets the Silverado Trail, is Robert Sinskey Winery. Best known for Pinot Noir, this winery has an ever-changing list of wines available for tasting. The picnic area is on a terrace overlooking the valley. It's more exposed than the areas mentioned above, but has a nicer view.

Rutherford Hill Winery has a large picnic grounds on a hillside east of the town of Rutherford. The views are obstructed by the trees, but this picnic area is among the largest in Napa. If you like Merlot, Rutherford Hill should not be missed. To get to the winery take Rutherford Hill Road to the end.

When you picnic at a winery, please do not consume wines from other wineries. Not only would this violate the wineries' permits, but it is not considered good form. If you want wine with lunch, buy it from the winery. Usually they will open the bottle for you and loan you some wine glasses.

If you want to take a private tour of the Napa Valley that includes a picnic at one of these wineries, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here. I will customize the tour so you visit the wineries that best match your tastes and interest.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Tasting Room Faux Pas

Today's "Santa Rosa Press Democrat" has an excellent article on dos and don'ts in tasting rooms. You may access it by clicking here.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Picnicking in the Napa Valley - Part I

I've written about some dining options in Napa (see my March 27, 2006 post on Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen and May 9, 2006 post on Auberge du Soleil), but sometimes folks prefer a casual picnic at a winery. The first step in having a great picnic is getting quality food. There are three places I recommend in the Napa Valley.

First is the Oakville Grocery in the small town of Oakville. Located at the intersection of Hwy. 29 and Oakville Cross, this store doesn't look like much from the outside. Walk inside and you'll find a wide selection of prepared foods as well as a counter where you can order sandwiches and salads. This place tends to get mobbed at lunch time, so try to pick up your supplies early. There are a few picnic tables at the Grocery, so you enjoy your lunch under one of their redwoods if you prefer.

In the northern part of the Valley, the town of St. Helena has two places to pick up food and supplies. Dean and Deluca is located just south of the heart of St. Helena on Hwy. 29. This branch of a national chain has great cheese and deli counters as well as a counter that has prepared salads and makes sandwiches and salads on the spot. Less known in St. Helena is Sunshine Foods, which is at 1115 Main Street in the heart of St. Helena. This local grocery store has a counter that makes excellent sandwiches and salads and sells delicious prepared salads. Sunshine also has a wide selection of artisan cheeses. While Dean and Deluca has a bigger selection, Sunshine Market is far less crowded.

The next step on having a good picnic is finding the right picnic spot. I'll recommend some spots in my next post. Meanwhile if you would like to take a private, custom tour of the Napa Valley that includes a picnic lunch, please call me at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or e-mail me by clicking here. I always carry a cooler and picnic supplies, so you will have everything you need for a great lunch in Napa.