Music Festing, Napa Style

Bottlerock1 – San Francisco Style Blogger

I spent the past few days up in the Napa Valley at the inaugural Bottle Rock music festival and I feel a bit like I’ve just returned from some sort of awesome NorCal utopia. The festival was everything I wanted it to be and more, with sets by favorites Best Coast, the Alabama Shakes, the Black Keys, Jackson Browne, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (and a zillion other badass groups), plus  Napa wine and food, festival fashion, and a whole lotta sunshine. We posted up at the Silverado Resort, which has a serious Caddyshack vibe (in the loveliest of ways, I promise) and were able to spend some time exploring downtown Napa due to the excellent placement of the festival grounds.

All in all, a very successful first year for a festival that I hope becomes an annual tradition.

Bottlerock –  San Francisco Style Blogger

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Wine Tasting

Topshop shirt, Topshop skirt, Joe’s Jeans booties (similar), Mulberry Oversized Alexa bag

There are few things that make me happier than a little (or more than a little) wine tasting on a fall Saturday afternoon. We snapped these pics at our final stop of the day during our Napa tour this weekend, hence all the smiles. I’ve been really gravitating toward all grades of flowy blouses lately, and this one seemed particularly suited to an afternoon of wine country indulgence.

Topshop big pocket casual shirt with tartan scarf and Kenneth Jay Lane elephant necklace

Topshop big pocket casual shirt with tartan scarf and Kenneth Jay Lane elephant necklace

Topshop big pocket casual shirt with tartan scarf and Kenneth Jay Lane elephant necklace

Topshop big pocket casual shirt with tartan scarf and Kenneth Jay Lane elephant necklace

Topshop big pocket casual shirt with tartan scarf and Kenneth Jay Lane elephant necklace

Weekend Details

grape vines at Corison Winery

I spent this weekend with my pals in the Napa Valley, and as expected it was a beautiful and gloriously gluttonous mini-vacation. At the recommendation of a friend, we stayed at Yountville’s Napa Valley Railway Inn, an adorable little hotel with rooms in railcars within walking distance to some of the Valley’s best restaurants (making getting to dinner at Bouchon and Redd entirely way too easy). We also ventured into Sonoma a bit (the drive between the two valleys was absolutely stunning) to sample what the neighboring valley had to offer – since there’s obviously a huge shortage of wine and food in Napa  – and weren’t disappointed, with lunch at The Girl and the Fig and delicious zinfandels at Ridge some of the trip standouts.

Other new favorites in Napa were Vine Cliff (delicious chardonnay and cabernet and sweeping views of the Valley) and Corison (stand-out cabernet by one of the Valley’s first woman winemakers).

And now – food and wine detox. Phew.

wine tasting at Ridge Cellars in SonomaWine tasting at Ridge/Everything grows in California (what are these anyway?)

Wines at Ridge/Burgers at Farmstead/Salad at The Girl and the Fig

Our companion the rhino/Wine beakers at Farmstead

Bouchon Bakery Macarons and lunch at the girl and the figMacarons at Bouchon Bakery/Lunch at The Girl and the Fig

Golden Gate Bridge view from Crissy FieldPlaying on the beach back in San Francisco

What to Pack: Weekend in Wine Country

One of my absolute favorite destinations for a long weekend away is the Napa Valley, and I’m happy to say that I’m joining a couple of my pals there this weekend for a some wine tasting, sightseeing and seriously good meals. Napa – like the rest of the fine state of California – is pretty laid back and casual when it comes to attire, so comfy chic is the way to go when packing for a few days there. The essentials: a comfortable maxi dress that will take you from the vineyard to the bistro, a blanket for wine and cheese picnicking among the vines, rustic-chic boots and some San Franciscan shades – it is sunny California, after all.

what to pack for a weekend in Napa

Clockwise, from upper left: Heather Maxi Dress, San Diego Hat Company Wide Brim Cloche, Westward Leaning Children of California Sunglasses, Freebird by Steven Caballero Boots, Mexican Beach Blanket, Aubin & Wills Sheepmoor Cable-Knit Wool Cardigan, Billykirk Medium Carryall

Napa travel

One of my favorite places to visit is California’s Napa Valley, and I’ve received a veritable crap-ton of queries from family, friends and friends-of-friends for trip recommendations. Given that it seems like everyone I know is making a trip there, I figured I’d go ahead and pass along a few tips. Enjoy – and should you need to pass these along, note the handy email function at the bottom of the post.
Transportation
There’s no getting around a rental car, unless you don’t want to experience all the gloriousness that Napa has to offer. Napa is filled with farms, which take up space, so to get to them (and all the fab shiz in between), you’re gonna need wheels. You could hire a limo to drive you around, though I highly recommend against that because wineries hate limos and some just flat out don’t allow them, and plus, it’s super pricey. On my most recent trip to Napa, we hired a service called Napa Bee Driven and they drove us around in our rental car, which was great. It’s $45/hour, which is pretty cheap for Napa, and as an added bonus, they gave us recommendations, made appointments, etc. Pretty awesome.
Restaurants
I am pretty sure it is hard to have a bad meal in Napa. There are about a zillion places to eat there, and every place I’ve eaten there I’ve loved, but here are a few of my favorites.
• REDD: In Yountville, this Napa Valley gem is the creation of Richard Reddington (of Auberge du Soleil fame). One of the best meals I’ve ever had, including some kind of awesome fried doughnut deliciousness for dessert. Make a reservation way in advance. Seriously – just do it.
• Farmstead: This place has a burger that was so amazing that it still serves as conversation fodder for my group of friends (picture in-house ground beef, grated white cheddar and arugula tossed in lemon). We went here for a boozy lunch mid wine-tasting, but I bet it’s awesome for dinner too. It’s got a big open farmhouse vibe, and they source from their own ranch and winery. It’s in St. Helena.
• Mustard’s: Mustard’s has got a super open vibe, not stuffy at all, and as I recall had a deservedly famous pork chop. Seems like the sort of place locals would meet up for dinner on a Friday night. Lots of use of mustard, of course. It’s in Yountville.
• Jole: This place has a tapas-style menu, which is my favorite kind of eating so I may be a bit biased, but it was delicious. It was our last meal of the weekend on my most recent trip to Napa, so we all felt like we needed to be rolled away at that point, but finished every last bite anyway. It’s on the main drag in Calistoga (at the northern end of the valley), which was great for us cause our hotel was about two doors down.
• Tra Vigne Pizzeria: So this place has a fancier restaurant and a more casual pizzeria – I’ve had lunch at the pizzeria, and it was delicious, with pizza of the perfectly-crisped wood-fired crust variety. In St. Helena, it’s perfect for a mid-wine tasting stop. Lovely patio.
• You may have already heard about Gott’s Roadside (formerly Taylor’s Refresher) and the Oakville Grocery for lunch – both are good, but both get super crowded, so be prepared. Gott’s has delicious burgers and shakes (and wine, obvs) served out of a window, to be enjoyed on roadside picnic tables, and the Oakville Grocery is a great spot to pick up stuff for a picnic lunch at a winery.
Wineries
There are obviously a gazillion wineries to choose from in the Napa Valley and it can be pretty overwhelming. I recommend not trying to do more than four in a day (I’ve done five but was a little sloshed) and mapping it out so that you get closer to home toward the end of the day, cause you’re gonna be tipsy. Here are a few of my favorites.
• Frank Family: I like this Calistoga winery so much I joined their wine club. They have really delicious red wines, as well as a super unpretentious atmosphere (their tasting room only recently upgraded from a trailer). No appointment needed.
• Cakebread: I have been here, no joke, four times. It’s a nice stop in Rutherford – while you do the tasting, they take you on a short tour of the winery and the grounds and do a little winemaking education. Also super unpretentious. Ask about their Rubaiyat. Appointments needed – be sure to call ahead.
• Heitz: This one in St. Helena is tiny and busy, but the tasting is free and no appointment is needed – bonus!
• Domaine Chandon: I went here a few years ago for some bubbly – it’s a huge champagne house, and has a sort of modern thing going on. I hear the cafe is really good. A cool place to walk around with a fun vibe.
• Paraduxx: I honestly don’t remember that much about the wines here, but I do recall that the tasting was so nice because the spot is so beautiful – it’s on the southern part of the Silverado trail, and we sat outside (they do it waiter style) where there’s a gorgeous view of the valley.
Hotels
Given that we used to live in the Bay Area (and that we have relatives in St. Helena), I haven’t needed hotels on most of my trips to the valley, so I’ve only stayed two places overnight – both are budget options (relatively speaking, anyway).
• El Bonita Motel: El Bonita is truly a motel, but has the added bonus of a pool and sauna. I have some fond memories of lounging in the pool at the end of the day of wine-tasting. It’s more centrally located, in St. Helena, right on the main Napa highway, and definitely suited our needs.
• Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort: Dr. Wilkinson’s is a funky old place started in the ’50s by a couple into alternative medicine and hoping to take advantage of Calistoga’s volcanic ash and mineralized hot springs water. The hotel has all these pools of various temperatures, which was interesting, as well as a full spa with mud baths (Calistoga is known for its mud baths).