Getting to Napa

Napa Valley is close to San Francisco, so it is convenient to drive there from San Jose, which is where I was staying at. The drive took a little more than 2 hours in moderate traffic. If you are flying into the area, there are various airports close to Napa Valley.

Tips
  • It’s difficult to move around without a car in Napa Valley, so a rental car is highly recommended.

Carneros Resort and Spa

The hotel entrance is on the side of a local highway, so it is fairly easy to find. The lobby is small, but clean and modern. Once checked in, I drove through the gated community to my cottage that is located on the edge of the resort. There are two pools in the resort, one for relaxation with a beautiful and peaceful view, another in the gym area for exercising. I went to the pool for relaxation. It is located on top of a small hill, so it has a nice view of the grassy fields and distant mountains around the resort.

Hotel room

It seems like the hotel only has independent cottages of varying sizes, so there is plenty of privacy during your stay. Best of all, they are all equipped with walk-in shower and hard floor, which are my top two preferences for picking hotels.

A nice dinner

There are various food choices in Napa Valley. In fact, Napa Valley is known to be home for many fancy Michelin-star restaurants. However, I was too lazy to go out, so I chose to eat at the resort's restaurants instead. The main restaurant at the resort is an American style restaurant called Farm Restaurant, which is located right beside the entrance. Although it is not a Michelin-star restaurant, it has a good setting for a romantic dinner. They had a decent selection of food options, including my favorite Duck Breast. The food was well prepared and the service was great. I’m not a wine drinker, but it wouldn’t be a proper Napa dinner without a glass of wine.

Scenic routes

After a good night sleep, I decided to explore the area. There are many scenic routes in Napa Valley where you can see beautiful landscapes and open vineyards. Most of the vineyards are not gated, so it was easy to walk around and look at all the fresh grapes hanging on trellis. I could smell the aroma emitted by the grapes while walking between the rows.

Artesa Vineyards & Winery

You cannot come to Napa Valley without visiting a winery. Almost every winery in the area offers a tour, but some require reservations or are only offered at specific times. After researching for highly rated wineries in close proximity, I chose to visit Artesa Vineyards & Winery. The winery offered flexible times for tours, but more importantly, it is located on a hilltop with an amazing view of the surrounding vineyards.

Tour of the winery

A guide led us through the winery and explained the whole process of making wines. I saw barrels of wine sit in a warehouse-like cellar going through the aging process. The cellar was cooled to a very specific temperature suitable for the maturing process. The most interesting part of the tour was the Monastery chanting that was echoing throughout the cellar. The guide explained that the owners originally started their small winery near a Monastery in Europe. They believed that the chatting from the Monastery helped “nurture” the wine, making them age better in the process. Hence they carried on that tradition in all the wineries they built around the world.

Wine tasting

At the end of the tour, we were offered wine tasting for a few dollars per person. It was definitely worth the experience since they poured us several glasses of different wines, each of which would have costed tens of dollars in a restaurant.

I’m not a wine/alcohol drinker, so it was not easy for me to tell the differences. However, I did find a really enjoyable white dessert wine. Before leaving, I bought several excellent bottles of red wines as gifts to my friends. Napa wines are well known and popular among wine drinkers, so they are good gift choices.

Self guided bike tour

After a tour at the winery, I drove back to the resort before sunset. Even though I could see a lot by driving around, but the most fun I had was riding through the surrounding area on a bike. The bike was a complimentary offer at the resort. It was extremely soothing to feel the breeze on my face while riding through the quiet local roads before sunset, when the temperature was ideal. It was truly a relaxing and pleasant scenic self-tour of the vineyards, and a great way to conclude my weekend in Napa Valley.

Tips
  • Remember to bring a coat/jacket since the temperature drops quickly when the sun sets.

My recommendation

After spending two nights in Napa Valley, I felt rejuvenated. It was the perfect place for a weekend getaway if you are in the area and want a short and relaxing trip. It is close to San Francisco, so I would highly recommend it as a place to visit if you ever visit San Francisco. You should definitely rent a car though since it would make getting around much easier.

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