I recently visited my parents and family in San Francisco for Easter. Even though I grew up in the Bay Area, I had never really explored Napa. I was excited to plan a trip to showcase the area to Matt and my father-in-law, and I was surprised by how much I had enjoyed it myself. Although, I'm not sure why I was surprised--wine, food, and not having to drive? That's a recipe for success nine times out of ten.
I knew that Napa was beautiful, but I didn't realize it was that beautiful: rolling hills of vines, mountains outlining the valley, wide open spaces. The area has done an extraordinary job of maintaining a "small town" feel despite being a globally recognized center of quality viticulture.
It also helps that the wineries and other businesses centered around the industry know their jobs and do them well. All of these places could easily turn their noses up at tourists and newcomers, but everyone we encountered was relaxed, inviting, and just plain nice. It must be all of that California sunshine...and wine. Bottles and bottles of wine.
I won't lie, I felt like a fancy schmancy some body riding around in our private car, being the only people on our private tour doing our private tastings. Privacy is a luxury that's hard to come by in NYC. I generally don't like to vacation like that because you can miss local flavors if you're always inside of a bubble. However, having a driver that knew the area and brought us to places that fit our desired itinerary saved us from drunkenly wandering from random winery to random winery, unsure if we actually liked what we tasted or if we were just salvaging our experience.
I don't drink much nowadays since I usually have to remain sober enough to make sure my toddler isn't hanging out of a window or sticking his finger into an outlet, so I knew I had to pace myself during the tastings. I knew that, but I'm not sure I can say that I did that.
I blame my parents. They taught me not to waste food and get the most bang for my buck. Who am I throw away this delicious product that dozens of men and women toiled over for months? What do you mean people spit it into that little bucket? Why wouldn't you just drink this beautiful alcoholic beverage you're paying for?
Oh. Because you're visiting 4+ wineries today, and you don't want to pass out by the third one? And you like to keep your dignity intact? Hmm. I suppose those are acceptable answers.
Bottom line: If you like wine, visit Napa. If you don't like wine but like beautiful scenery, visit Napa. If you don't like wine or beautiful scenery but like good food, visit Napa. If you don't like any of those things, I don't care what you visit as long as I never have to meet you.
Check out more photos from Napa here!