Who doesn't love a visit to the wine country? With its beauty, its hard to believe even the non-wine connoisseur can't find something to enjoy. Napa and Sonoma have long been heralded for great wine, but there's great food to be found as well. Everything from great road-side eats to delis to the critically acclaimed French Laundry. Following are a few of my picks for an enjoyable weekend getaway.
-- Bistro Don Giovanni -- This Napa restaurant showcases fresh ingredients and a rustic Italian inspiration in an inviting atmosphere. When dining at Bistro Don Giovanni it feels like you're part of one large family as opposed to simply a patron, with the welcoming staff and exceptional service. The menu offers a variety of Mediterranean dishes that change on a regular basis, including risotto, fish, duck and range of pastas. Diners will enjoy the patio with views of the vineyard-covered hills as well as the fire lit dining room.
-- Bouchon Bakery -- Bouchon is the bakery concept from the highly acclaimed, Michelin award-winning chef Thomas Keller. Bouchon Bakery's menu features all the delicious classics of a Parisian pâtisserie. The line is always long, especially during the morning rush, but it is well worth the wait for these tantalizing sweets. Keller's Pain au Chocolat is the best I've ever had, which says a lot considering it's one of my favorite snacks. And the macarons are the perfect consistency with a mix of crispy cookie and decadent buttercream in the middle. Bouchon is a must for dessert and pastry lovers when visiting Napa.
-- Dean and Deluca -- For foodies interested in building their own picnic lunch to enjoy while taking in the breathtaking scenery in Napa, Dean and Deluca has a location in Napa. The artisan grocery store started in New York City, and the Napa Valley location offers a wide array of cheeses, meats, produce and of course wines, much of which come from local farms and wineries.
It's hard to mention recommendations in Napa without offering a few suggestions on wineries to visit. So here's my top picks, not just for their wine, but for the overall experience they offer.
-- Sterling Vineyards -- Sterling is situated at the far end of the valley atop a hill where guests take a gondola ride to the winery. The ride and the winery itself offer breathtaking 360 degree views of Napa Valley, and on a good day you can sometimes see to the Bay Area. During your wine tasting, you take a leisurely, self-guided tour through art galleries and the winery to learn about the wine-making process.
-- Mumm Napa -- Mumm Napa offers a great overall experience where guests can choose to visit the tasting salon and patio, winery tour and/or their fine art photography gallery. In the tasting salon and patio, guests can enjoy table service and a gorgeous view of Mumm Napa's vineyards. The tasting menus allows for guests to choose from a variety of tasting options ranging from a full glass to champagne tasting flights. There's even soda and water and delightful crackers available to keep accompanying children occupied. And Mumm Napa's winery is also home to a photography gallery, which showcases a changing exhibition of works by well known local and international photographers.