PLAY & SHOP: Downtown Napa is a wine lover’s dream. Purchase a Taste Card and have immediate access to 12 tasting rooms with initial tastings at ten cents each (plus additional discounts and specials). The spaces are inviting, the people friendly and we never had to worry about blood alcohol levels. Here are a couple we tried.
Trahan Winery is driven by passionate family members with vivid memories of their migrant farm worker grandfather and other relatives in the wine-making business in France. This small winery produces such delightful wines as the 2009 Sadie’s Red Wine, named for their beloved dog Sadie. Take a seat at the counter and try these 2010 favorites: Grandpa’s Cab and the DIII Pinot Noir from Carneros.
Close by, Naked Wines offers a new spin on wine-making. “Angels” invest in individual winemakers worldwide. In the tasting room, more than 40 wines are available to sample. You can even try your hand at blending your own. We sat outside and tried Daryl Rex Groom’s 2013 Russian River Pinot Noir and the 2012 Cockamamie Rooster’s Blend (Cab & Syrah) from Jeff Stai.
When it was time to visit Luna Vineyards, we rented bikes and pedaled a short distance up the Silverado Trail north of downtown. We enjoyed the Tuscan atmosphere and intimacy of the tasting salon, all surrounded by lush vineyards. Don’t miss the 2012 Reserve Pinot Grigio and both these elegant 2011s: Sangiovese Reserve and the Canto.
After a long day tasting wine, nothing feels better than a soothing massage at The Spa at Napa River Inn. Choose from a variety of treatments and simply melt. Or try the heated salt water pool and hot tub at the Westin. If you’re up for more aerobic activity and haven’t brought your workout gear, not to worry. For $5, the Westin, with New Balance, will loan you an outfit and shoes. Need information on a trail? Enlist the running concierge and you’re off.
The Napa ARTwalk is always open. Walk around downtown and see the many sculptures that are part of the town-wide exhibit.
Just before you reach downtown Napa, check out the latest arrivals at the Napa Premium Outlets. Once in town, the General Store is a longtime favorite for a wonderful selection of artisan goods, wine country accessories and hearty fare. The Oxbow Public Market is another treasure trove of creative goods, great wine and relaxed dining. Nestled by the river, the market strives toward zero waste through its recycling and composting programs.
Stroll through town and find more boutiques, antique shops, tasting rooms and restaurants. And of course, wineries and tasting rooms hope you’ll buy wine when you visit, so don’t disappoint.
The night life in Napa is heating up and there are several venues for live music. The Uptown Theater, built in 1937, is an art deco classic. In addition to musical acts, comedians headline, too. At Silo’s, mellow out to cool jazz and blues. The City Winery is the latest location to light up its stage with popular musical acts. The old Napa Valley Opera House has been completely transformed into a vibrant destination.
OTHER ESSENTIALS: Downtown Napa; Napa Valley Tourism Bureau
PATTY BURNESS can be found on Twitter at @pattygb