The following post is by guest blogger Lisa (lisabay), an old friend and fellow WordPress blogger.
My last trip to Napa was not what I expected. Things did not go as I had planned, but discovering the town of Napa and other areas were a pleasant surprise. Last March, my family and I took a trip to Napa Valley, during a rather cold and wet long weekend.
My children were 7 and barely 2 at the time, but I was determined to do some wine tasting while we were there. We had done it before in Sonoma Valley and had a very enjoyable time. But Napa with kids, I had never attempted. Wine tasting is possible with children, but I guess you kind of have to lower your expectations. The key is to have some activity for them, and probably some outdoor space to run around. I usually like to combine tasting with lunch, so the kids can sit and eat while my husband and I sip wine. But for all the research I did, I neglected to learn about Napa’s “no picnicking” policy, meaning, you can’t bring any food in from outside and eat it at the winery, like you can in Sonoma. (There is only one place I know of where you can picnic in Napa Valley. The winery is called V Sattui.) Since my little one still needed to nap at mid-day, it limited our window for wine tasting. However, we did go to two places that I would recommend for families.
The first one is Frog’s Leap Winery, up the valley, in Rutherford. They specialize in organic wines and have a lot of outdoor space, including chickens to amuse the kids. The tastings are done on a wrap-around porch overlooking beautiful scenery.
Another interesting place to wine taste is Castello di Amorosa, located in Saint Helena, about 30 minutes north of Napa. The building is a smaller replica of a thirteenth century castle. Though, I don’t think the wine is that good, it makes up for it with ambiance and history. You can take an informative hour-long tour, or just taste and tour the grounds on your own. There is even a children’s room with coloring books and grape juice.
In addition to wine tasting, we spent quite a bit of time outdoors, for being a cold and wet weekend. We went to a cute playground at the end of the quaint culinary town of Yountville. Yountville is known for famous high-end restaurants like French Laundry and Ad Hoc. The well- known Bouchon Bakery is also there. I walked in to get a latte, and behind me, I saw a crowd of people taking pictures of the pastries and the logo on the bag. Back at the playground, Max and I explored the beautiful old cemetery next door. We also went to Skyline Wilderness Park, for an easy mile-long nature walk/hike. Even two-year-old Jack kept up on the walk. The sign at the park said to watch out for wild boars. We didn’t see any, but some fellow hikers saw some wild turkeys on the trail.
For lunch and dinner, we had nothing but great experiences in downtown Napa. One night we went to Uva Trattoria for great Italian food. The next night, I had one of the best roasted chicken I’ve ever had at Grace’s Table. Both restaurants welcomed our children, and they had a great time. Another place, I would go back to again and again is the Oxbow Market. If you have been to San Francisco, it is like a little ferry building, with a bunch of local food vendors and restaurants. An “oxbow” is a bend in a river, and that is were the market is located, on the oxbow of the Napa River. I had yummy interesting tacos at C Casa, a great latte at Ritual Coffee, and some organic root beer ice-cream at the Three Twins Ice-Cream stand.
Another fun thing to do in downtown Napa is to “go antiquing”. I’m not sure why, but Max likes to do this. I think he just likes buying stuff. We ended up at one of those low pressure consignment places. Max got some vintage keys, and I bought an old Folgers Spice crate. We went back to our hotel very pleased with what we had found. And I was very pleased with our whole trip, even though it wasn’t what I expected.
Here are some helpful links if you go:
(day 70) Guest blog from Lisa (lisabay). Lisa, thank you for your blog and I look forward to future contributions.