21…. The birthday I have been dreaming of my entire life! Now.. where do I celebrate!? I know most people’s dream destination for their 21st is most likely Las Vegas BUT I’m a Las Vegas native and have been to the clubs thousands of times (thanks again to my sister Brie for the ID all those years)!
Born from a french family, I have been drinking wine since I could hold a wine glass! So what better way to spend my 21st birthday then in wine country?
Picture This: You walk into a charming winery just to be greeted by the wine maker themselves, you sit down on a patio overlooking vineyards on miles of rolling hills, you drink an ice-cold glass of chardonnay while the warm California sun shines on your face… ahhh, perfection.
Now if that doesn’t convince you….
Day 1: Arrive in Napa Valley
Napa Valley is located in northern California just north of San Francisco. You have a few options of airports to fly into: Oakland, San Francisco airport, or Sacramento airport! I
Depending on where you are coming from, San Francisco is usually cheaper to fly into, but then you have to worry about coordinating a ferry and then driving up the remainder of the way! I decided to limit the hassle as much as possible and fly directly into Oakland or Sacramento. Then I got an Uber/Lyft up to Downtown Napa.
Trying to find the best area in Napa to stay can be seriously mind-boggling! It took me a long time to reach my decision to stay in Downtown Napa and I’m so glad I did! You can check out my post on Where to Stay in Napa if you are still deciding.
My lovely boyfriend of 6+ years, Joseph, came with me to celebrate & we stayed at The Embassy Suites. It was the perfect distance from all the restaurants and shops downtown! Highly, highly recommend this hotel! They have free breakfast and a lovely courtyard with ponds, swans and fire pits to enjoy a glass of wine!
Once you arrive in Napa and check into your hotel, it’s time to explore the darling downtown area of Napa! What’s nice about staying in the downtown area is there is SO much to do. A lot of popular wineries will also have wine bars in this area, so you can taste plenty of wines without having to pay for an expensive driver.
After you’ve explored some local wine bars and vintage shopping, it’s time for dinner at Allegria. This high-rated Italian restaurant will make you want to come back every night of your vacation! The food, service and atmosphere was 10/10. Napa has always been known for amazing wine but in the past couple years it has been becoming more known for amazing food too!
(Obviously I couldn’t wait one more second to eat my dinner, even for a picture ha!)
Day 2: Wine Tasting!
The service is spotted in Napa so you will want to look into taking a tour or getting a personal driver. Personal drivers are extremely pricey, but if you want the full Napa experience, I would highly recommend it. This way you get to customize your stops, get recommendations from a local, and take your time at each stop. If you want to browse tour options, click here!
My oh-so-sweet parents surprised me and Joseph with our own personal driver for my birthday gift! They were even so thoughtful to ask for my itinerary and they sent it to the driver so everything would be ready to go when we got there.
I got dolled up in my all white dress – I know what you’re thinking… risky to wear white to go wine tasting but hey, I think this dress was worth the risk!
Stop 1: Mumm Napa
We started with champagne at Mumm Napa! You can reserve a spot on their beautiful patio for a tasting of three different types of champagne for only $25 / person. I’ve been told that the winery tour is very impressive but we decided to skip it and just enjoy the view from the patio.
TIP: They also have a gallery that you can walk through for FREE!
Stop 2: V. Sattui Winery
Our second stop was V. Sattui. We did a tasting here as well but what they are really known for is their incredible lunch and picnic grounds! This winery is a must stop for lunch!
Joseph and I ordered a few small plates and sat on a picnic bench to split everything. This place can get extremely crowded with large tours coming in, but this is truly the best spot to get lunch in Napa Valley.
After you are done with your picnic lunch, head inside to their tasting room to enjoy a $20 tasting. They are extremely busy, but still managed to make us feel so welcomed! Another idea if the tasting room is too busy for your taste is to get a bottle of wine to split for your picnic lunch.
TIP: If you tell everyone it’s your birthday, you will get at least 2 extra “birthday” tastings! Let’s just say the last winery was a little blurry, ha!
Stop 3: Rombauer Vineyards
chardonnay wine is Rombauer! If you are into buttery, delicious chardonnay, this is the place to be! We did a tasting for only $25/person and walked around the beautiful picnic gardens.
TIP: I would grab V. Sattui lunch to go and eat it here instead! The picnic grounds are even prettier and far less crowded. You will be surrounded by white roses, chirping birds, the best wine, and NO crowds! Can’t go wrong.
Stop 4: Castello Di Amorosa
I didn’t know this until after we got there but Castello Di Amorosa is the same winery that owns V. Sattui. So the wine you taste is very similar, if not the same! It was a little bit of a bummer, but the real reason I wanted to visit this winery was the beautiful “castle” grounds.
You can do a lengthy castle tour that is only $45/person where you will get premium wine, chocolate, a tour of the castle and wine straight from the barrel! This place is HUGE so make sure you bring comfortable shoes to walk the grounds in.
This place was VERY crowded especially at the time of day we went. If you are going to pick between V. Sattui and Castello Di Amorosa, I would recommend V. Sattui! Again, I wouldn’t recommend seeing both because the wine is almost the exact same. Castello di Amorosa was a little too commercial for my taste!
On my second trip to Napa Valley, I planned to stay closer to all the wineries to cut down drive time & visit only smaller, boutique wineries. It was a drastically better experience! 🙂
We ended the night with some local Thai food and talking about our day in the beautiful courtyard in the hotel! Seriously – this place had a pond…. with geese! Click here to see more pictures of the hotel we stayed in.
Day 3: Fly Home 🙁
Napa, I will be back!
UPDATE: I went back 😉 Click here to read my new and improved Napa Valley Itinerary, which is based out of beautiful St. Helena!
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