- Theresa Downs
Wine By Appointment Goes All Around The Bay In Napa
Some places we visited in Napa….
La Toque Restaurant in Napa
We started the year off with a bang by having dinner at the ultra elegant La Toque located in the Westin Verasa Napa Hotel at 1314 McKinstry Street in Napa, CA1314. This much acclaimed restaurant (the recipient of a Michelin star among other awards) offers a sleekly modern interior with a wonderful fireplace, much appreciated for diners in the chilly early days of 2018. We had the five course menu with black truffle and wine pairing (we always try to go for a wine pairing when available…figure it’s a great way to let the sommelier strut their stuff). The dinner was amazing and the wine pairing inspiration. It was a great way to usher in the new year!
One bright spring day, we stopped at Redd Restaurant in Yountville for a late lunch. Located at 6480 Washington Street in Yountville, the restaurant opened in 2005 and was seen as a sophisticated yet more casual choice to the French Laundry. We certainly enjoyed our lunch while savoring the sunshine and watching people stroll by; sadly the restaurant closed shortly afterward. Its closure is certainly felt by locals and tourists alike.
Bistro Jeanty is another Yountville delight. Located at 6510 Washington Street, it features a charming interior with a definite bistro vibe and a sunny patio. This is one restaurant we make as a destination: meals are always satisfyingly good but my go-to is probably the Crème en Tomate en Croute (tomato soup in puff pastry). The Coq Au Vin and Cassoulet are always good picks (there is a reason they’re considered standards) and the wine list is well thought out and affordable. It’s definitely worth at least stopping for a glass of sparkling and a snack, if nothing else.
CIA at Copia
The Culinary Institute of America (CIA ) gave downtown Napa a breath of life when they purchased and then reopened the old COPIA site. COPIA, located at 500 1st Street, Napa, first opened in 2001 as the brainchild of the Robert and Margrit Mondavi, but went into bankruptcy in 2008. The CIA brought it back to life as destination for food, wine, education and community. Housing their Food Business School, the campus also features a restaurant, bar, retail outlet, museum and conference hall. The Restaurant is always a delight to visit. As you would expect from the CIA, the food and service are impeccable. We’ve dined there a number to times during 2018 and always enjoyed the CIA’s twist on classics and being introduced to new standards. Well worth visiting, just allow yourself extra time to peruse the retail store and museum. Recommend taking that bottle of wine you found from that great new winery too as corkage is remarkably reasonable.
Napa General Store
A fun place to visit while strolling downtown Napa is the Napa General Store. Fun, casual and relaxed, it’s the perfect respite from either the rigors of shopping or wine tasting. Located at 540 Main Street, Ste 100 in Napa, near the Napa River, it features fresher than fresh fare such as scrambles and salads. And, with a great patio, one can while away hot afternoons as the Napa River meanders by.
We also visited some spectacular wineries in 2018. Some of the notable ones…
Far Niente, located at 1350 Acacia Drive in Oakville, is always on our recommendation list. Stately buildings interspersed with beautiful gardens give visitors a glimpse of years gone by. Founded in 1855 by John Benson, the winery prospered until Prohibition in 1919. It fell into disrepair until 1979 when Gil Nickle (of Nickle & Nickle) purchased and renovated the winery. Today, the winery offers award winning Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. I had my first sip of their late harvest wine several years ago, Dolce, which is truly nectar and one of my favorite dessert wines. Well worth a visit although you’ll need to plan in advance as Far Niente visits are by appointment only.
Mumm Napa is synonymous with sparkling, at least in my book. Located right on the Silverado Trail (8445 Silverado Trail, Rutherford), Mumm boasts (with good reason) of beautiful patios and tasting salons, where visitors can quaff their amazing sparkling wines gazing at the gorgeous grounds. Get a crash course in the ins and outs of sparkling wine with their attentive, knowledgeable staff. I’m partial to their Carlos Santana selection of wine and of course, their Demi –Sec. It’s best to make reservations (opt for the outside patio if the weather is agreeable) and you won’t regret it.
Robert Sinskey Vineyards
Robert Sinskey Vineyards, located at 6320 Silverado Trail in Napa, is a must go-to winery when you’re anywhere close to the Silverado Trail. Hailed for their early adherence to biodynamic farming and holistic approach to farming in general, and, together with Maria Sinskey, their acclaimed Culinary director, Robert Sinskey Vineyards is the epitome of Napa valley wine and cuisine. Sample their Alsatian style Abraxas wine or a taste of the POV selection of wines while nibbling their delectable bites paired to go beautifully with their wine. Housed in an elegant brick building with an amazing patio with vistas of their nearby vineyards, it’s definitely worth a stop. Plan to make reservations and devote some time to soaking up the California sunshine while sipping a glass or two.
Chimney Rock Winery
Chimney Rock Winery amazing Cabernet Sauvignon wines would impress the most ardent Cabernet Sauvignon aficionados. Located at 5350 Silverado Trail in Napa, Chimney Rock Winery sports distinctive South African Cape Dutch structures becoming a landmark on Silverado Trail. The winery has a number of cozy tasting rooms and outside patios for warmer weather. Truly, for an exceptional taste of some Cabernet Sauvignon wine, plan on making a reservation and paying Chimney Rock a visit.