As fun as the wedding day is, it’s the after party that leads to some of the best memories. I’m talking that sweet, sweet honeymoon! My husband and I took a bit of a mini moon after our wedding. So on our one year anniversary we got to take our dream Napa Valley honeymoon, and it was absolutely AMAZING. We keep checking flights to see when we can go back! We learned quite a bit about Wine Country while we were there. I just had to share some of the tips and tricks to plan the perfect Napa Valley honeymoon.
Stay in a Central Location
We did a bit of research before heading out, and let me tell ya- Napa Valley is BIG. The entire valley actually contains multiple little towns, including St Helena, Carneros, Sonoma, and more- and we had planned visits to wineries and restaurants all over the valley. Staying somewhere that was convenient to everything (or at least a scenic drive away) was so important. The Silverado Resort and Spa was an absolute DREAM to stay in! We had a junior suite, which had a full size kitchen, wine cooler, living room, and patio attached. It was a total paradise, and we felt like we had stepped into a movie. We didn’t spend much time there, but we did partake in the spa and had dinner at their restaurant. We were pleasantly surprised to find it was one of our favorite meals of the trip!
The Best of the Best Wineries
How can you go to Napa and NOT visit a winery or twelve? We ended up going to four wineries on our 4 day trip, and let’s just say Napa does not play around. Again, I had done some research before going, so I picked wineries I felt we would be most interested in. With over 400 to choose from, there’s great options for everyone!
Domaine Carneros- Champagne Papi
Now, you can’t call it champagne unless it was made in Champagne, France. But if you’re looking for a boujee, sparkling wine experience, look no further than Domaine Carneros. We took the full fledged tour and wow was it worth it! Our tour guide was so educated on the process of everything (and super personable). We got to try so many incredible wines throughout the tour. It ended with a nice cheese plate and final glass of red, but we could have stayed all day looking out at the incredible scenery and the French inspired chateau behind us.
If you are looking to take home a bottle, we highly recommend the 2010 Late Disgorged Le Rêve for a splurge (a sparkling chardonnay with to die for notes of Brioche, lemon meringue, and honeycomb), or the 2014 Estate Brut Cuvée (a 50/50 chardonnay and pinot noir with notes of pear, cherry, and honeydew) for a more every day option.
Sterling Vineyards- Floating on Air
One of my favorite experiences in Napa took place at Sterling Vineyards, where you ride a gondola up to the winery on the mountaintop! It was the most peaceful, picturesque experience riding up to the top and seeing all of Napa from the gondola. When we got up to the top, it was a self guided tour, but we got to learn so much about wines, and even learned a cool trick where depending on what part of the glass you smell, you’ll taste different parts of the wine. My husband now does this on every beverage, even non alcoholic ones. Our favorite wine of this vineyard was the Bianca wine (a white wine with notes of pear, apricot, and tangerine), which was not only delicious, but shares the same name as my grandmother, who was a huge part of my life. Overall an incredible experience!
Newton Vineyard- Alice in Wine-land
Up next on the winery docket, Newton Vineyard. Newton Vineyard is owned by LVMH (the company that owns high end fashion labels such as Louis Vuitton), and definitely bleeds luxury throughout the whole experience. We went on a semi private tour (only 8 people total) around the property, and ended with an extended tasting of some of their finest wines.
One thing that caught my eye most about Newton while researching was their gorgeous garden space. It looks like it came straight out of an Alice in Wonderland book! This was one of the few tours that we got to go inside the wine caves as well, which was such a fascinating experience. Tours and tastings here are a bit more expensive than the average winery, starting at $75 a person, but if you do decide to stop in, definitely try out the Puzzle wine (a spicy red wine with notes of tobacco, cacoa, plum, and fig), which is the crowned jewel of Newton.
Wine and Dine
My husband and I are HUGE foodies. And with Michelin star restaurants all over Napa, we had a field day. Here are a few of our top picks for dining on your Napa Valley honeymoon!
- Boon Fly Cafe: This bright red industrial barn restaurant was one of the highlights of our trip! My husband and I came here on the way to Domaine Carneros and had some of the best brunch of our lives. Local flavors and modern twists on American classics make this roadside cafe a must try. Don’t forget to order a side of donuts for the table!
- Bouchon Bakery: You may have heard of Thomas Keller’s string of restaurants in Napa, including the acclaimed French Laundry and Bouchon. These restaurants were a bit out of our price range for this trip, but we did get to stop by the more affordable and delectable Bouchon Bakery for breakfast. With bagel sized macarons, incredible sandwiches, and melt in your mouth pastries, we thoroughly enjoyed our stop there, and were THRILLED to find out NYC has a location right by Rockefeller Center!
- Auberge de Soleil: We had to wake up a bit early for our reservations here, but Auberge de Soleil is the most picturesque restaurant in Napa- I’m convinced of it. Overlooking the entire valley from atop a hillside, while eating some of the best Eggs Benedict of my life- it truly was life-changing.
- Restoration Hardware: Restoration Hardware has locations around the country, but their newest Napa Valley location has got to be one of my favorites. This boujee bistro is located within a luxurious furniture boutique, and the whole experience screams “class”. With crystal chandeliers everywhere, tall gorgeous green trees, velvet seats and marble tables, you can’t help but feel like you’re in a modern fairytale. And the food is even more beautiful than the scenery! I got the prime rib sandwich and my husband grabbed the lobster roll, which both were fantastic. I could have stayed all day in the beautiful terrarium like setting, but we had wineries to get to!
- In n Out: While this may not seem very exciting, In n Out was such a fun experience for us. Napa lends itself to costing a small fortune to do everything you have in mind. In n Out is the perfect quick bite to help sober up between wineries and for a fun little diner style lunch. We had never been, but heard so much about the infamous fast food stop. It was such a nice reprieve from the $50 lunches we had been used to so far. For under $20 for the two of us, it’s a must try.
- Gott’s Roadside: Lunches in Napa for us usually took place in between winery visits, and usually were our time to sober up a bit and enjoy some comfort food. For some high quality burgers and shakes, Gott’s Roadside was A+. We sat al fresco and scarfed down some incredible burgers and fries. Enjoying the sweet Napa breeze after our trip to Newton Vineyard was glorious.
- Evangeline: Romantic candlelit dinner with a french, jazz influence? Sign me up! Evangeline was a dream come true to dine at during our stay in Napa. We sat outside under the string-lit patio and enjoyed some French classics with the twists they are known for. One fun part about dining in Napa is the wine lists are almost exclusively local! We got to have another glass of our favorite Domaine Carneros sparkling wine during dinner, and reminisce over a beautiful day in wine country.
- Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch: My husband is a bit of a chef himself, so we always try to go to some farm to table restaurants. He loves to pick the brains of our waiters about the processes of the dishes and where everything comes from. Naturally, Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch was a must try on our list. With ingredients grown right outside the windows, this restaurant was incredible! We even had a chance to stop by their tasting room for a pre dinner experience (read more on that below!)
- Bistro don Giavonni: Last but not least, you can’t go to wine country without some pasta. Bistro don Giavonni is a sweet roadside Italian cafe where we shared some amazing pasta dishes and, you guessed it, more sparkling wine. I’m a HUGE Italian food fan, and the rich, fresh flavors were a perfect ending to our day. Like many of the dining establishments in Napa, we were able to dine outdoors and listen to some beautiful music while watching the sunset. The gorgeous summer weather that Napa offers was perfect for that romantic Lady and the Tramp style dinner we were hoping for!
Not into Wineries? Try These on for Size During Your Napa Valley Honeymoon!
Take a Drive- One of the best parts of the entire trip was watching the scenery pass by as we drove around the valley. Napa Valley is HUGE, and everything is pretty spread out, which meant lots of driving in between events. It was so worth it to see all the scenery and rock out to some classic road-trip jams.
CIA and Oxbow Public Market– Although a spy museum in the middle of wine country would be a sick idea, the CIA here is actually the Culinary Institute of America, founded by Julia Child! Of course we had to stop in for my husband to peruse around during our stay. While we couldn’t partake this trip, the CIA offers culinary classes, as well as a museum and gift shop that my husband loved. Right next door is Oxbow Public Market. The market features local shops and booths with all kinds of different food, spices, oils, teas, and more! We easily could have spent a whole afternoon between these two spots.
Olive Oil Tasting at Long Meadow Ranch– You saw above that we stopped by Long Meadow Ranch to try out Farmstead. Before our reservation, we popped into the Anderson Tasting room for an olive oil tasting! I had never done one before, so it was really interesting to see the different oils and taste their differences. It was also on the cheaper end of our itinerary, only costing about $10 per tasting. They also offer wine tastings, and you can even order a cheese plate and enjoy in the gardens.
Final Tips and Tricks:
Make Reservations for any Wineries You Can!
While many wineries have walk ins available for tasting rooms, you’ll want to make as many reservations as possible for your Napa Valley Honeymoon. Especially during the summer, Napa is filled with tourists. It saved so much time being able to walk right in to your reservation and get started with the experience. Plus, depending on the winery, some may require a reservation or fill up quickly, leaving you to either wait for a cancellation or head out to somewhere else. If you have somewhere specific you want to go on your Napa Valley honeymoon, call ahead to make sure you have a spot!
Bring a Light Jacket for Summer Nights
Growing up in Florida, I never really understood the concept of a “cool summer night”. It was either 95 all day or 80 at night. Napa has quite possibly the most beautiful summer weather I’ve ever experienced. During our trip, highs were in the mid 70’s, but lows went down into the 50’s. Make sure to bring a sweater or light jacket if you plan on al fresco dinners or star gazing.
Get a Rental Car
Having a rental car was one of the best decisions we made on this trip. We had considered taking Ubers or finding shuttles, but having the freedom to drive around and sight see was incredible. Some of my favorite memories were looking around the valley while driving to the next winery! Just make sure you’ve sobered up before driving. You’ll also want to plan plenty of time in between events to allow for some extra sight seeing.
Map Out Your Attractions in Advance
Speaking of planning out your time, it was SO helpful to have mapped out everything we wanted to do in advance! Like I’ve said 82084209 times in this post, Napa Valley is HUGE. While everything is in the same valley, it could easily take you 45-60 minutes to get from place to place. The last thing you want is to miss a reservation because you didn’t realize things were so far apart. My advice? Write down everything you want to do on your trip, and group things based on their location. It made our trip so much smoother, and gave us plenty of time for driving around without stress.
Our trip to Napa Valley was easily one of the best trips of my life. I can’t wait to go back again one day! From the beautiful scenery, delicious food, and incredible wines, you can’t go wrong taking a Napa Valley Honeymoon. Thanks so much for reading, and make sure to comment below if you head out to Napa any of your favorite things to do or see!
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