Road trip: Napa Valley

Grapes in Napa...taken from a shuttle window

Grapes in Napa...taken from a shuttle window

Earlier this month, I trekked up to Napa (via Sacramento) for a weekend of good ol’ bachelorette party fun. No, male strippers were not involved (because I planned the trip for my best friend, I spared her the embarrassment). But there was a lot of drinking and eating, and that’s what you want to hear about anyway, right? So here’s a rundown of my food-and-drink adventures, with a little info on the hotel thrown in for good measure. (I’m sorry I didn’t take better pics — as the maid of honor, I was in charge of everything, so I didn’t always remember to take good establishing shots. Bad blogger!)

Food

  • Red Hen Cantina: This is a no-frills Mexican restaurant with mostly basic, though thoroughly tasty, fare. I had the tostada, and not only was it sizable, it was just the type of greasy food perfect before a night of heavy drinking (this was a bachelorette party, remember?). The restaurant also has a big bar scene, which definitely turns into a local watering hole after the dinner hour. And Friday nights are karaoke nights, so if you’re up for singing in front of a motley crew (not Crue, though you can sing some Crue if you so fancy), this is the place. There are some singers who obviously participate on a regular basis, so it’s fun for watching, too.img_0903
  • Zinsvalley: This more upscale restaurant serves New American cuisine, which basically means you can get a variety of dishes, from Italian to Asian and everything in between. I had the Garlicky Shrimp with angel hair pasta, tomatoes and feta, though I could have used more feta on my dish (especially after seeing there was more on one of the other girl’s plates!). Other than that, it was a pretty decent meal. Zinsvalley features more than 30 California labels of zinfandel, none of which we had because we brought our own bottle from a nearby winery trip earlier in the day. No corkage fee here!
  • img_0970Fume Bistro & Bar: This cute eatery just a few miles up the highway from Napa’s city center is another place that serves New American cuisine. We went for the Sunday brunch, and the food was tasty and satisfying, though not mindblowing. I had one of their specials, a breakfast sandwich served on a croissant, with a side of potatoes. The service, though friendly, was slow, and our server kept the change from our bill! Just because we didn’t outright tell you to bring us change doesn’t mean you get to automatically keep it, OK? Sure it was only a few dollars, but that’s still our money. Your tip was already included.

img_0982Wine

  • St. Supery: This lovely winery in St. Helena has some great wines — too bad I haven’t been able to find them in SoCal yet! Anyway, my favorite was the 2008 sauvignon blanc, which was light and fruity. It might be a tad too sweet for some people, but I liked it (I am by no means a wine expert, so this is coming from the average wine-drinking joe-sephine). The grounds were pretty, too.
  • img_0942 Domaine Chandon: This is one of the larger wineries in Napa. It serves still and sparkling wine. If you haven’t had Chandon sparkling wine (i.e., champagne), you should try it. We had the brut classic, blanc de noirs and rose. I liked them all. Don’t ask me which one was best — I drank these glasses really quickly to keep the tour on time (again, I was wrangling the girls).
Bellini mix at Chandon. I so wanted to buy this but couldn't carry it on the plane =(

Bellini mix at Chandon. I so wanted to buy this but couldn't carry it on the plane =(

  • Andretti: This winery is partially owned by former race car driver Mario Andretti. The grounds here are gorgeous. We sampled four or five wines here, but I can’t really tell you which ones I liked because I was pretty tipsy at this point in the tour. I liked one of the whites, but I can’t remember which one. Sorry, this is no help.

img_0955Hotel

  • Embassy Suites: I was very pleased with the Embassy Suites in Napa. The property was very cute, with a courtyard featuring ponds with swans and an atrium where the free breakfast and manager’s reception are held. Yes, the hotel has free made-to-order breakfast every morning and free wine, liquor and snacks every evening (this is standard for the Embassy Suites, by the way). The rooms were perfect for our big group as they have a separate living room from the bedroom, as well as a kitchenette. The only drawback was the bathroom door: instead of a regular door THAT LOCKS, there were small double doors akin to closet doors that DIDN’T LOCK. Kind of a problem when you’re rooming with a bunch of other people, but we managed to avoid any embarrassing moments.

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Maya Meinert

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06 2009

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