Now that we are home and can confirm we all remained COVID-19 free, I’m spilling all the details on our recent Napa Valley trip. Despite its association with California, where coronavirus cases have been pretty high, Napa Valley was an excellent, safe, summer travel option. All restaurants and wineries are operating entirely outdoors, and social distancing is strictly enforced. Other than an occasional waiter or waitress in a mask, I don’t think we came within 10 feet of anyone outside our group the entire trip! Keep reading to see which restaurants and wineries were accommodating to our group and which ones you might want to avoid.
Let’s start with the flight. We flew Delta, and it felt very clean and safe. Like many airlines, Delta is limiting the number of people on flights and are leaving the middle seat open. We were given a sanitizing wipe when we got on the plane, and although there were no beverage carts, we were given a plastic bag with a snack, additional wipe, and water bottle. We had to wear our masks the entire time, and it did get old. However, on one of our flights, I saw someone with a full hazmat suit, N90 mask and goggles, so I figured if he could survive the flight, surely I could too!
When we arrived in San Francisco we were all starving, so we made a quick pit stop at the Ferry Building. I had my heart set on some oysters, but we didn’t have time, so we settled on Gott’s Roadside. Great choice! I had the Western Bacon Blue Ring Burger and some of their famous Mexican Street Corn. So, so, so good! We sat outside, and the entire Ferry Building was pretty much a ghost town, so it felt very socially distanced.
We then made the drive into Yountville and stopped at one of my favorite little wineries, Jessup Cellars. They were very gracious to our group of TEN. Yep, you read that right. Despite a ban on groups of more than 6, we rolled into Yountville like the rebels we are. We had to split up the entire trip into groups of 4 and 6 or 5 and 5. We drew names, which was fun at first, but, sadly, I don’t think I ate dinner with my husband the entire trip. Here’s a good time to point out that *I would NOT recommend going to Napa with a group larger than 6.
Okay, back to Jessup Cellars. The Jessup Cellars tasting was one of the group’s favorites. The wine was delicious and the tasting fee very reasonable. We really enjoyed the service here and the more laid-back vibe. It was also walkable from our bed & breakfast, Maison Fluerie.
That night we had an amazing dinner at Bouchon Bistro. They have a small but beautiful patio area, and the service was exceptional. Because of our wait, they even bought us all a round of drinks. A good glass of Rosé can truly fix anything. We celebrated a friend’s birthday that night, and they even rolled out a dessert with a candle. Highly recommend this place!
My husband and I went for a run around Yountville each morning and ended with a coffee and treat from Bouchon Bakery. The line gets crazy when it opens, so we got there about 15 minutes early and had no issues. We also had a fabulous breakfast by the pool at our B&B each morning.
We started our first full day of wine tasting at Frog’s Leap Winery. The grounds were beautiful, and I’m a big fan of this organic wine. This was actually our third time visiting Frog’s Leap. They were pretty strict on us wearing our masks, even asking us to put our masks back on even when we were out in the vineyard trying to take a photo. Given that we were outside and not within 100 feet of another person, it was a little strange.
Next we grabbed lunch at Oakville Grocery. It was absolutely delicious! It’s a casual spot, but the food and wine selection are excellent. I split a pizza with a friend and we bought a smaller, half-bottle of wine to enjoy over lunch. The beer drinkers in our group were glad to grab a beer (or two) on this stop.
After lunch we attempted to visit Mumm Napa. Despite having two separate reservations for 4 and 6, they would not let us in. The host outside the tasting room was extremely rude to us. We joked that it felt like we were getting scolded at the principal’s office. Not okay. No one in our group will be visiting or buying any of their wines in the foreseeable future. Our issue was not with their COVID-19 policies, but more with how they treated us.
Our last winery of the day was at the charming Elizabeth Spencer Winery. This was my first time visiting this winery, and I absolutely loved it. They could not have been nicer and the back outdoor seating area was so nice. They even had special tasting menus printed for our group.
For dinner that night we went to Brix, where I had the best meal of our entire trip. If you make it here, you have to order the Roasted Chicken Carbonara. It almost had a chicken noodle soup vibe, and really hit the spot! Next time we are in Napa, I will be headed back to Brix for this exact meal. The views were also stunning here, and we were lucky enough to be there for the sunset. We did get asked several times to not commingle our group, but they were very nice about it, proving that it’s possible to enforce your business’ COVID-19 policies without being a jerk.
Day two kicked off with a private tasting at Momento Mori. This was my favorite tasting of the trip. The wine is so, so good. We also had the best time chatting with our host, Emily. She was overflowing with knowledge about the valley and winemaking.
We lunched at the gorgeous RH Yountville. Wow! You have to eat here, if only to experience the decor. The outdoor dining space was truly magical. The food was also excellent, and it was nice that we just had a short walk back to Maison Fluerie after lunch.
That afternoon we hit up a couple local tasting rooms. First we made a visit to Priest Ranch. Their outdoor patio was pretty small, and honestly, the service was not very good. I would pass on this place until they are open for indoor tastings.
We then headed just outside of town to check out Hill Family Estate. They have a tasting room in Yountville, but with very little outdoor space, they suggested we head to their winery just outside of town. It was so beautiful, and the perfect spot to relax. They were very friendly here, and this place was definitely worth the 5 minute Uber ride.
We had dinner that night at Bottega. They have a very large outdoor area, so I would think this would be an easy one to get a reservation. Unfortunately, the service was very poor here, and I kid you not, we saw a very large rat crawling down the wall near our table. When we told our waiter about it, he acted like we were making it up. The entire dinner all I could think about was that dang rat! Unfortunately the food did not make up for the poor service.
Before heading out of town that next morning we stopped at Mini Model to try their famous English muffins. Let me tell you: worth the hype! So delicious.
All around it was a great trip, and it was really nice to get out of town for a few days. We loved our stay at Maison Fluerie. It was our third time staying there, and it was great as usual. They always go above and beyond. If you are thinking about a trip to Napa Valley in the near future, go for it! Just don’t go in a big group. Other than that, enjoy your trip!