In September we attended an auction in support of the Matt Talbot Center with Trevor & Tracie (and a few other friends) as our guests. At the start of the live auction they announced the winner “Golden Ticket” winner. As fate would have it, Trevor & Tracie had the “Golden Ticket” and were allowed (as per the rules) to select any live auction item from the list. They selected the Napa trip and Heather & I said we’d join them in Napa to celebrate Trevor’s birthday!
Fast forward to the end of April, I had not reserved a hotel for us. The one hotel I wanted to stay was sold out.
I sent an email to everyone I know who may have a connection in Napa. Lots of advice insued from where to camp to $1k per night accommodations. My friend David Keuhner, Founder & President of Destination Cellars sent me an email that said relax and he would make a call. How many times have we all heard that. Boy was I wrong! I now owe David a life of gratitude for him not only saving my trip but, making it the trip of a life time!
About Destination Cellars: Is for those who savor a great wine experience, insist on the best service, and celebrate life at it’s most fulfulling. Their team works with discrimination individuals & organizations, creating unique escapes, singular wine purchases, once in a lifetime experiences and unforgettable events.
Below are my recommendations on how you too can have the trip of a lifetime!
Getting there: We flew Alaska Airlines from Seattle on one of their many non-stops from Seattle to Oakland. Yes, Oakland is better if you are going only to Napa. I used to live just south of Napa and often flew in and out of Oakland. Insider tip: Its a shorter drive to Napa from Oakland vs. SFO!
Where to stay: Because of my friend David’s amazing connections, Heather & I were the guests of Freemark Abbey winery in their guest cottage. This is not open to the public, so it can’t be booked. However it was one of the best parts of our trip. The only other hotel I would recommend is Bardessono! This 62 room gem in Yountville is “green, luxurious, and peaceful.” All the things you want in a hotel in wine country. From the in-room spa services, farm-fresh restaurant ingredients to the rooftop pool, Bardessono is the hotel I recommend!
How to do it: Book one of the chauffered driven car services, like we did to ensure you don’t get arrested for DUI! There are PLENTY of police looking for those who enjoyed too much wine behind the wheel. We recommend Napa Valley Tours & Transportation! Our driver Michael Basayne was not like a driver at all. He was more like a long time friend who was showing us around his home town. His hospitality was a special treat. Thank you Michael!
Where to eat: Napa is known for its famously expensive restaurants and we didn’t go to any of them! St. Helena has great restaurants that are more like eating in someone’s home. Our FAVORITE meal was at Cook. My braised shortribs melted in my mouth and I was in HEAVEN! Cook is reasonably priced ($140 for 4 people with wine) and a local favorite for its Fridays Only BLT. We had the best time over a fantastic meal that I can’t stop talking about. We had other meals while we were there. But none of them compare to Cook! Our honorable mention: Ristorante Allegria in downtown Napa. Also
Wineries we love: Freemark Abbey is where it started and ended! The story of Freemark Abbey is deeply intertwined with Napa Valley’s rise to prominence. Those who forged Freemark Abbey were citizens of Napa in the greatest sense—people who passionately believed in the land, in their craft, in community and in the value of a handshake—a long-honored and increasingly rare ethos of winegrowing that continues at the winery today. As one of the first sixteen wineries in the Napa Valley, Freemark Abbey possesses a long history that is deeply entwined with the region’s ascendency to fame and was the only winery invited to present both red and white wines in the 1976 Paris Tasting, the event which put Napa on the map. We like the 2005 Cabernet Bosche for its dark cherry, black currant, cinnamon, aromatic cedar and green olive with hints of dark chocolate and cigar box. Good depth of flavor with black fruits, chocolate and integrated oak spice. Lively, with elegant tannins and a very long, clean fruitful finish! We purchased and drank two bottles the first night!
Caymus is a must stop on your list as well. With its rich winemaking family history and private, seated tasting room and passionate staff you will feel like you are part of the family! Each of us couples walked away with a box! We recommend the 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: aromas are layered with pipe tobacco, log cabin fires, and brown spice that leads to the impression of richness and complexity.
Sequoia Grove was our final stop and we felt right at home. Also a bit buzzed! Simple environment and friendly staff, with great wines to boot! Again, we left with another box of wine! We recommend the Rebellious Red because we all have a bit of rebel in us!
We can’t wait to return next year for Trevor’s birthday when we will start at Cardinale!