Many people visit the California wine country by going through as many of their favorite wineries as possible. While that is a good pursuit, there are many things the wine country has to offer in terms of food, sights and other attractions.
Channeling the spirit of Anthony Bourdain’s show “The Layover”, here is my recent 72 hours adventure in California Wine Country that didn’t involve many winery stops.
Day 1: Pack bag and drive from San Francisco to Sonoma/Napa
Lunch at Della Santina’s Trattoria – A low key Italian restaurant with outdoor dining under the shades of trees and canopies. Fortify yourself with dishes like Pappardelle with wild boar ragu and a tiramisu.
After lunch, take a walk around Sonoma Square, check out tasting rooms and shop local artists in places such as the Arts Guild of Sonoma.
Drive back to Napa for dinner at Boon Fly Café at the Carneros Inn for dishes such as their famous fried chicken and the peanut butter bar.
Stop by later in the evening at the Empire Napa Lounge in downtown Napa for one of their cocktails, more snacks such as oysters, chilled shrimp and cauliflower fritters.
Spend the night at favorite hotel in a number of places in Napa or the American Canyon area.
Day 2: Wake Up and head to Calistoga/Meadowood
Drive up to Calistoga for late breakfast/early lunch at Sol Bar at Solage Calistoga resort, admire the view of the pool and the hills. Try classic spa dishes such as the beet salad, fish tacos or goat cheese/spinach wrap.
After lunch, drive to downtown Calistoga and browse the local artisan shops.
Take a coffee break at Calistoga Roastery for a quick recharge in the afternoon.
Check into your choices of a number of hotels in Calistoga, relax for a bit before dinner.
Dinner at the Restaurant at Meadowood resort, the famed Michelin 3 star restaurant. You can opt for the full dining experience or they also offer an abbreviated lounge menu.
Go back to hotel afterwards and ponder how to burn off the calories from this trip.
Day 3: Final 24 hours of the Trip
Drive south towards St Helena, stop for lunch at the famed Culinary Institute of America Greystone campus
At the Greystone Wine Spectator Restaurant you can dine on dishes prepared by students (if school is in session) such as mussels, pan fried ravioli and made to order soufflés.
While you are there, check out the corkscrew exhibit and the campus store.
After lunch, take short drive to downtown St. Helena, stop for gas and walk along the downtown shops
Stop by Goose & Gander for afternoon snack and drinks if you have time/room.
Continue down towards Napa to my favorite chocolate shop, La Foret Chocolates by Wendy Sherwood, alum pastry chef of the famed French Laundry. Her chocolate is normally sold by subscription or offered only at restaurants and selected wineries, a visit to her shop while you are in Napa is worth your time.
Continue onwards to Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa which hosts a collection of restaurants and food stands.
Check out Hog Island Oyster company, on Tues and Wed at 5pm they have oyster specials. Todd Humphries of the Martini House fame now has the Kitchen Door restaurant plus a number of food stalls offering everything from wines, pizzas to hamburgers to pastries and ice cream
For more formal dinners, check out other restaurants in downtown Napa near the Napa river.
After dinner, take a nice leisurely drive back to San Francisco, and have a good night’s sleep 🙂
I will be writing more detailed blogs and pictures about the various food visits on my food blog www.eater38.net in the coming week.