All the Planning Details for Napa Valley

This post is all about the details you need to plan your Napa trip. If you plan on visiting Napa, you should also check out my post on visiting Napa on a budget

Napa and Sonoma counties are very large, so it is wise to plan your day around a specific section of the wine country. You could spend one day in the Sonoma/Santa Rosa area, one around St. Helena/Yountville area and one around the city of Napa. I suggest picking out the one vineyard you want to go to most and plan from there.

For hotel, remember that it might be more convenient distance wise to not stay in the city of Napa. If you plan on walking around downtown, then it’s obviously a great choice. However, if you plan on visiting wineries in Sonoma County, you might want to consider a hotel around that area. There are SO MANY gorgeous areas in the Napa region, so don’t limit yourself!

There is not an easy public transportation option for the Napa Valley. You can either drive, pay a taxi or pay for a tour. Driving is obviously the most convenient option, but you will want to consider other options if the driver plans on tasting as well. On my last trip, I saw many people using uber between wineries. Biking and shuttle tours are another great option (but possibly not if you are on a budget).

Here are my reviews on some of my favorite wineries:

Hess: The Hess chardonnay is one of my favorite wines of all time. And of course the location is gorgeous as well. Hess is the perfect blend of quality wine and a beautiful property. They even have a small museum of modern art next door to the tasting room. I loved their small picnic area under the awning of vines. Set up a nice lunch and taste the fabulous wine. Currently open for appointment only until damage from the earthquake is repaired. Open 10:00am-5:00pm. Tasting of 4 wines is $20. Visit their site.



Sterling Vineyards: Sterling is most famous for their gondola ride up to the winery. Once at the top, tastings are separated across the building to create an almost tour feel. The last two tastings are on the rooftop terrace with the (obviously) stunning views of the valley. On certain days, they offer a grape stomping experience for an extra $20. You get to jump into the bucket of grapes and stomp away. Standard tasting is $29 ($5 off with Wine Finder). The price includes the gondola ride to the top. Open Mon-Fri 10:30am-5:00pm and Sat-Sun 10:00am-5:00pm. Visit their site.


On the gondola


*Don’t worry, they don’t actually use the stomped grapes in their wine.*

V. Sattui: V. Sattui looks how you would expect a Napa winery to look. It has that Tuscan feel with vines growing up the side of the building. There is an area with picnic tables (no outside food allowed) and they have a BBQ on weekends. The tasting room is inside an Italian market with a large range of cheeses, meats, pastries, dips and more. I had some of the tastiest cheese and cake here. Tasting is $15 (Two for one with Wine Finder on Mon-Thurs) Open 9:00am-6:00pm. Visit their site


Enjoying V. Sattui with some friends

Domaine Carneros: This winery is built to resemble a French chateau. The grand staircase up to the tasting room emphasizes the grandeur of this place. Domaine Carneros is known for their champagne, which is extremely fitting in the French atmosphere. Enjoy a flight of champagne on their gorgeous terrace overlooking the vineyards. (The picture at the very top is the view from their terrace.) Open 10am-5:30pm, tastings start at $30, reservations are required. Visit their site.

Domaine Carneros

Enjoying the lovely view from Domaine Carneros

Enjoying the lovely view from Domaine Carneros

Rombauer: Rombauer does a great job of combining stunning views with amazing wine. The wines here are excellent and the zinfandel is one of my favorite wines ever.The tasting room is on top of a hill with gorgeous patio views over the valley. You feel as though you are hidden away. They even have a garden that you can stroll through for even more amazing views. Note that the tasting room is very small and can only accommodate groups of 6 or under. Tastings are $20, open 10:00am to 5:00pm with the last pour at 4:30pm. Reservations are required. Visit their site

The amazing view from Rombauer

The amazing view from Rombauer

Castello di Amorosa: When you are inside the castle of Castello di Amorosa, it is feels like you have been transported to Europe. It’s hard to believe that you are still in California. Exploring the castle is half the fun here. Climb the towers for gorgeous views and picture opportunities. The tasting room is in an underground room that makes you feel like you are in the chambers of a castle. Castello is very popular, so if you are visiting on weekends arrive before 12:00pm when crowds start to get large. General admission is $25 and includes a tasting of 5 wines. A guided tour with tasting is $40. Open 9:30am-6pm March-October and 9:30am-5:00pm Nov-Feb. Visit their site. 

This is just the entrance!

This is just the entrance!

Ledson: The main focus of the Ledson winery is the stunning mansion. It was originally built as a residence, but was changed to a winery when the Ledson family started selling wine from the property. Exploring the “castle” is extremely entertaining. This property is gorgeous both inside and outside. $15 for a tasting, open 10:00am-5:00pm. Visit their site



The wonderful part of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys is that there are hundreds of wineries to choose from! I encourage you to explore and try some new ones as well!


3 thoughts on “All the Planning Details for Napa Valley

  1. KAREN SAUER says:

    What is wine finder? How can I get info to use the discounts you mentioned? I “googled” wine finder, and I did not see anything for that.
    Thank you!


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