TRAVEL GUIDE: NAPA AND SONOMA
I'm so excited to share my Thanksgiving itinerary with you. Each year I am responsible for planning a trip better than the year before, when my parents come down from Seattle for Thanksgiving. We like to mix wine tasting (of course!) with being outside and exploring new towns. I usually go up to Napa and/or Somoma once a month so I am always looking for new places to explore in the area. I found some great new ones below and you can check out my old favorites here and last year's Thanksgiving here.
WHERE WE STAYED
Some things you want to try new like restaurants or wineries but, for us, Hotel Yountville is a tradition we are likely not going to change anytime soon. The vibe of the hotel is luxe but in an quiet, approachable and cozy way. We love putting on our fluffy robes and walking in the cold Napa evening to the hot tub. I also love the beautiful bathrooms that are Restoration Hardware-inspired with a good dose of homey touches like a fireplace and knit throws on the bed.
WHAT WE DID
We split our visit up into two main days with a little hike on Thanksgiving. Here are the fun activities we did.
Hike at Bothe State Park - My sister found this hike and it was one of the best hikes I have been on in the Napa area. It went along a creek then up into the mountains, around a mountain and back down to the valley floor. It was moderate and included some gradual inclines but nothing too crazy. It was a perfect 4.3 miles and about 2 hours. A good little exercise before the big Thanksgiving meal.
Rutherford Hill - The next day we were up bright and early for wine tasting at Rutherford Hill. Nothing like a little Chardonnay at 10:30 in the morning. I tried the Rutherford Hill Reserve Tasting while my sister and Dad tried the Trelato Reserve tasting. The Trelato family owns the winery and produces wines under their own name as well as the Rutherford Hill name. We really enjoyed both labels but especially enjoyed the Trelato wines. They have a beautiful picnic area that looks out over the whole Napa valley and are located within walking distance of the Auberge de Soleil if you are interested in a fancy lunch afterwards.
Shopping in St. Helena - I have three favorite must-go-to shops in St. Helena, they are La Boheme which gives back to a local hospice when you purchase their vintage items, Centerpiece Floral and Home which has a beautiful (if not a wee bit overpriced) store of collected items, and my absolute favorite Acres has an incredible selection of home goods and gifts.
Chimney Rock - Next stop was lunch after wine tasting (don't worry we did stop to eat between the tastings, more on that later) Chimney Rock is also owned by the Trelato family. They acquired the winery when it was half golf-course half winery and converted the remainder to a winery. Because the winery is located about a 15 minutes drive south of Rutherford Hill and lower elevation, the wine is very different. Chimney Rock specializes in big red wines from the Stags Leap district. We had the opportunity to taste from the barrel which is a pretty rare experience that I won't soon forget. I loved their wines, especially the Cab.
The Barlow - The next day we took off driving north west about an hour to Sebastapol. I had heard of a new shopping/dining concept there called the Barlow. I figured it was worth checking out. There were a few cute shops to poke our heads into but it was mostly sleepy and much quieter than expected. Maybe it was the rainy weather or the holiday weekend? Anyways, if you are driving in that area and it's close by, worth checking out. Otherwise? I would skip and head to Petaluma instead.
Petaluma Shopping - Wow Petaluma has really changed. I hadn't seen it in a few years and the stores up there are really great and there are a lot more food options than before. Upon the recommendation of a friend, we stopped at Truck and Barter which was SO cute. Almost worth the drive up from the city. There were also lots of cute thrift and antique shops worth popping into. I saw quite a few things that I wanted to add to my Christmas list.
Lagunitas Brewing - Last on our stop in the Sonoma area was Lagunitas Brewing. After being quite accustomed to a wine tour, the brewery tour was quite the surprise. I'll go ahead and say it that I am not a beer drinker. I don't usually order beer but I really do like the taste of Lagunitas. It is also fun to see something local that isn't wine. The tour was full of funny stories, plenty of swearing and kegs stacked as far as the eye could see. My sister and I ended up purchasing the holiday beer which has brown sugar in it and their Sumpin' Sumpin' which is my personal favorite. If you are looking for something a little different to do in the area, I would highly recommend it (and making sure you go on the tour) They also have live music, food and an outdoor area for lazy, sunny days where you can just relax the day away.
WHAT WE ATE
Cook St. Helena - I wish I had more pictures from this evening but I don't because we ended up meeting up with family friends and I didn't want to be rude. The food was delicious. Each dish was flavorful and fresh. Definitely one of my new favorites and a must-stop if you are in the area.
Honorable mentions - Farmstead (I have mentioned this before, it is one of our family favorites make sure to check in on Yelp to get free cornbread) FARM (we always have Thanksgiving dinner here)
So that was our wonderful trip. I will always keep adding to my favorite things to do in the Sonoma area since I go up so frequently. In fact, later this week will be a post about a trip to Santa Rosa for the weekend. Stay tuned!