Napa Valley: The Ultimate Wine Tasting Guide

Living in the Bay Area brings a lot of added value, like (once you get over the housing market, yikes!)  the close proximity to Napa Valley Wine Country. Bring on the wine! Some of my favorite memories since moving out to California are my wine days with the girls. We have become quite the professionals at navigating our way to some of the best wineries in a day’s time. Here’s my guide to 5 wineries for the ultimate Napa Valley experience in just a single day. Cheers!

1. Mumm

Let’s start the day with some bubbles, shall we?! Mumm winery is situated on the famous Silverado Trail In Rutherford, CA. Reservations are recommended but not required. The last time we visited was on a whim and we were quickly seated after waiting only 10 minutes.

Mumm Napa - best wineries

2. Opus One

Opus one is a splurge to visit but I highly recommend if you’re traveling to the valley. The drive down to the tasting room is lined with olive trees and the architecture is absolutely breathtaking. We visited last summer when we had some family in town and then again for my 30th birthday. Recommend trying their Overture Red blend and taking a walk to the roof where the views are spectacular. Reservations required.

Opus one Winery
30th birthday at Opus

3. Frank Family Vineyard

If you enjoy a butter-bomb chardonnay – Frank Family should be at the top of your list. The vineyard and tasting room is located in Calistoga, CA and has been a long time favorite of mine. Grab a couple of cheeses and bottle of chard and sit down at one of the picnic tables just outside the tasting room.

4. Duckhorn Winery

Duckhorn pinot niors have always been a good-to of mine. The tasting room is located in Saint Helena and is situated in the Duckhorn Vineyards Estate House. With a beautiful setting of vineyard and garden views, the site is ideal for pioneering an intimate and sophisticated sit-down wine tasting experience that quickly sets the standard for wine country hospitality.

5. Caymus Vineyards

Last but definitely not least, my all-time favorite – Caymus. My love for Caymus runs deep and if you are an avid cabernet sauvignon lover – I am sure yours does too! The tasting room is located in Rutherford, CA. Caymus Vineyards 100% family-owned by the Wagners. Caymus produces two Cabernets Sauvignons – a “Napa Valley” and the venerable “Special Selection”. Both Cabernet bottlings have aromas and flavors which can only be achieved through “hang time” – a technique which chances the loss of crop if early winter sets in.

Northern California Road Trip

This past April, Mike and I, finally went on a road trip up the northern coastline of California. Without a doubt one of the most amazing experiences of my life. We sought off on our road trip with our car fully packed, ready to see, and discover the beauty that the rugged north coast of California has to offer. Here’s a list of the top 7 destinations we visited.

1. Mendocino Headlands, Mendocino, CA

Our first stop was Ft. Bragg and Mendocino.mendo headlandsmendnomendo2Medocino

This photo was taken just out back of the Beachcomber Motel and Spa at the beach. We choose this hotel because it was dog friendly, along the coastline, and provided a decent price point.

2. Glass Beach, Ft. Bragg, Ca

A must see stop while at the Mendocino coast is Glass Beach. Glass Beach is a beach in MacKerricher State Park near Fort Bragg, California that is abundant in sea glass created from years of dumping garbage into an area of coastline near the northern part of the town. Mike and I had so much fun here collecting the glass (you’re not suppose to take anything from the beach, shells, glass etc.) and exploring the tide pools!


After the beach it was time to hit the road again, we headed north towards Redwoods National Park.

We decided to stop at the Eel River in Leggette, CA with Barley and take a few photos.


Barley loved drinking the fresh river water!

3. Chandelier Tree, Leggett, CA

Our next stop was Chandelier Tree. Chandelier tree is a 315 ft tall coastal redwood in Leggett, CA with a 6 ft by 6’9 ft cut through at the base of the tree to allow cars to drive through. The tree is believed to have been carved in the early 1930s by Charlie Underwood


After great attempt, the Tundra definitely couldn’t make it through the tree! As you can see by the snug fit of the Hyundai!

4. Avenue of Giants, Phillipsville, Ca

We stopped for lunch in Garberville, a quaint small town in Humboldt county, and continued on. Next, we arrived at Humboldt State Park. The photos below are taken from our drive through the Avenue of Giants.



We stopped to hang out at the South Fork Eel river again, it is just too gorgeous to miss out on. Mike decided he had to jump in even though the water was freezing. We took a dirt road down to the river right after we drove through the Avenue of Giants.

5. Fern Canyon, Orick, Ca

Once we arrived in the Redwoods National Park our first stop was Fern Canyon. This is where they filmed a scene from Jurassic Park 2. The beauty of this place is breathtaking. I highly recommend anyone planning to visit RNP make this a must see.


The walls were breathing!  It is named for the 50 ft walls with ferns growing all over them, Home Creek runs through the fern walls. We didn’t want to leave this place! But the state park doesn’t allow dogs on the trail to Fern Canyon so we had to make it back to Barley.

6. Lady Bird Johnson Trail, Orick, CA, RNP

We decided we wanted to do a mellow short hike. Lady Bird Johnson trail is one of the most popular trails at RNP, its a 1 mile loop trail just 2 miles off hwy 101. The trail has old-growth redwood, Douglas-fir, and tan-oak.


7. Anderson Valley Wineries, Anderson Valley, CA

To finish off our road trip, on our way home we stopped at Goldeneye Winery in Anderson Valley. With a beautiful landscape, nestled in the heart of Anderson Valley, this winery is  also associated with Duckhorn, so that’s a plus in my book! Goldeneye provides an intimate wine tasting with a beautiful backdrop of redwood trees. AKA my personal heaven!!! We loved this place so much. Mike and I had their red wine tasting and cheese board! My favorite was their 2013 The Narrows Vineyard Pinot Nior, this wine provides a lot of complexity and deep blue fruit notes. So yummy!

Thanks for reading guys!

xxx- Nicki

Wine, please!

Theres nothing like having a good glass of wine after a long day of work. Living in the Bay Area and only an hour away from Napa and Sonoma is quite the treat to say the least! I prefer my red wines and I love a nice bold, full bodied, dark fruit flavors, glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

SunflowerCaymusThe bottle in the picture is a 2013, Caymus Vinyeards, Cabernet Sauvignon. Wine spectator described this wine as, “Rich, smooth and creamy, with vanilla, mocha, dark berry and licorice notes, offering a compelling mix of subtly sweet flavors set in a graceful, supple texture. Drink now through 2025.” Caymus Vineyards is located in Rutherford, California about an hour and a half from San Francisco. The Wagner family offer intimate tastings on their beautifully landscaped grounds. A must see when visiting Napa! Visit their site to learn more!

But of course when going wine tasting an absolute must have is a cute outfit! It’s still summer so my most recent trip to Napa I wore a retro Karina romper from Amuse Society ($54.00, BCBGeneration ‘Ronny’ strappy heels($117.95, and Kate Spade Cedar Street Mini Hayden in stone ice ($128.25 on sale!



Hello world!

Hey guys! This is my very first blog post! After creating this site some 4 years ago, I have finally decided to make this a regular thing! My post are mostly going to be composed of recipes, things I enjoy cooking for my boyfriend, Mike, and myself, our travels, and of course our adorable American Bulldog, Barley! EmeraldBay

I am so excited to share a little bit of my life with you guys! This is Mike and I a few weeks ago at Lake Tahoe-Emerald Bay in the distance. Stay posted for more!