“Be right back, heading to Europe for the night...”
I wish. But here is my secret for you - just outside of San Francisco in Napa Valley sits the town of Yountville. With its one main street (Washington Street) of cobblestone pathways, brick buildings blanketed in green grape vines and quaint wine bars, markets and bakeries left and right, you feel like you just got transported to a small town somewhere in southern France.
A couple of friends and I decided on a whim to spend a summer June weekend in Yountville. Here’s where we wandered:
Saturday: 10:00AM – Accommodation – Ivy Hotel Napa
We checked into a hotel outside of Yountville, Ivy Hotel Napa, threw our bags in the lobby storage, and took a five minute Uber into town. Easy.
Tip: My recommendation, if you want to splurge and really feel the boutique luxury vibes of Yountville, consider Hotel Yountville. It sits right at the beginning of Washington Street and provides a uniquely personal experience.
11:00AM – Tasting 1 – Priest Ranch Tasting Room
Priest Ranch is where we started our stroll down the main street. Walking into their tasting room felt like coming home. Krista, our pourer, was energetic, enthusiastic and charismatic. There were five single varietal red wines that we tried: Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot. This led up to the finale taste – a blend of these five varietals called the Coach Gun. Coach Gun was perfectly balanced with hints of freshly picked blackberry, raspberry and dark chocolate.
Krista was so generous (it also helped that my friend is a member there). She let us try their two white varietals, a Grenache Blanc and a Sauvignon Blanc. The Sauvignon Blanc had a very strong aromatic nose with herbaceous hints of fresh cut grass, fresh orange peach and Meyer lemon. The smell itself made my mouth water. We left Priest Ranch and our private room feeling spoiled, taken care of, and hungry for more wine.
12:00PM – Tasting 2 – Hill Family Estate
About 300 steps down the road is Hill Family Estate. We wandered here and tried their crisp, fresh Albariño (my favorite white varietal), their Merlot, and their Syrah. Albariño is an uncommon varietal found in California, so it was really exciting to try theirs. It was tart yet balanced with hints of apricot, freshly picked peach and light floral notes.
Sandwiches from Yountville Deli were picked up and brought to V Marketplace to eat outside. They were paired with a couple bottles of Rosé from Define Wines bought at V Wine Cellar, warm sunshine and good company.
7:00PM – Dinner – Oenotri
For dinner, we ventured a few miles in the opposite direction of Hotel Ivy to Downtown Napa and gorged at Oenotri, a modern Italian restaurant with daily changing menus, hand-crafted wood burning oven pizzas, local fresh ingredients and courtyard seating for warm summer nights. We ordered a few pizzas, a few pastas, a lot of homemade bread and olive oil, and some cocktails. My cocktail of choice was the Bee’s Knees – gin, lemon, and honey. It was extremely fresh, simple and a great mix of sweet and sour.
Sunday: 11:00AM – Brunch – Bouchon Bakery
On Sunday morning we went to Bouchon Bakery for coffee and brunch. The famously long line that crawls out the door throughout the day was worth it for the picture perfect baked goods, fresh quiche and home-made bread loafs.
Tip: There is another reason this place is so sought after. It is a brain child of Thomas Keller, the creator of the legendary French Laundry, which happens to be a few blocks down the street from Bouchon Bakery. This is the actual farm where French Laundry captures all their produce; it is literally across the street from the restaurant. Talk about ‘farm to table’.
With full stomachs, too many wine bottles in the car and happy hearts, we ended our quick trip to
Europe Yountville, and headed back to the states San Francisco. We’ll be back to this oasis in the heart of Napa Valley very, very soon.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah Thompson is a story-teller, a Michelin star seeker and a city-dweller thriving in San Francisco and beyond. Born and raised in the Bay Area, she ventured to San Luis Obispo to study hospitality and event management at Cal Poly. After college she returned to San Francisco to contribute to the real world, seek out some Michelin stars, and discover what fuels her soul.
Over time, she found herself skimming through wine blogs in her free time, buying wine books to read at home and teaching herself how to blind taste. The artistry, the history and the story-telling that wine provides the world is what fuels her soul, so much so that she studied for and received her Introductory Sommelier Certification with the Court of Master Sommeliers in March of 2017.
By day she’s a Digital Project Manager at Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants mastering digital content, website creation and strong brand presences. By night she’s a GSM drinker and writes about food, booze (particularly wine), and travelling on her blog, Where We Wandered. Wander and wine with her @wherewewandered.