Autumn in Napa Valley, California is breathtaking. Yellow and orange leaves line the grape vines and maple trees, as the harvest has been completed and the vines are getting ready for winter. The wineries welcome visitors now that the rush is over, and the farm fresh gourmet restaurants feature their fall menus, abundant in persimmon, pear, and squash.
We flew up to San Francisco and spent the night at The Fairmont, Heritage Place in Ghirardelli Square. Our room had a gorgeous view of San Francisco Bay. We dined for lunch at our favorite French bistro Le Central where the cassoulet has been cooking continuously for over 14,000 days. Dinner with friends was in Sausalito at Barrel House Tavern; a lively spot on the water.
We hit the road the following day for the 60 mile trek to Napa Valley in our rented convertible VW, bound for the wine country. Golden vineyards lined our path, and The Decemberists sung us there on the car stereo. We checked into The Carneros Inn and felt the relaxation instantly.
Dinner on night one was at Press in St. Helena, known for their steaks cooked over almond and cherry wood. It was a cozy atmosphere and the food was delicious.
Breakfast the following day was within walking distance for us, The Boon Fly Cafe. It was named for a local gentleman who planted orchards and vineyards in the area in the mid-1800s. The cuisine is all local and based on the agricultural heritage of the region. They specialize in their doughnuts, but we went for the “green eggs and ham” and the homemade granola.
Lunch was at Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch. We dined outside in the shade and enjoyed a pulled pork sandwich, tomato soup and a coleslaw.
After lunch we stopped to check out some sculptures at a road side shop called Art Forms. My favorite was the Adam & Eve sculpture.
Dinner that evening was french bistro fare at Bistro Jeanty in Yountville. Chef Philippe Jeanty recreates his favorite dishes from his childhood growing up in the Champagne region of France.
The following day was devoted to a picnic lunch assembled from the delicacies at Oakville Grocery which has been in operation since 1881. We gobbled down a Muffalatta, chicken salad sandwich, and a half bottle of Pinot Noir on the forested ground of the Schrammsberg Vineyard Estate. Then we defended into their caves for a tour and tasting of their famous sparkling wines. The caves were covered with lichen which hung from the ceilings, and Scott managed to collect quite a bit of it in his hair.
On the way back to our hotel, the steel rabbit sculpture called “Bunny Foo Foo” which stands 35 feet tall and leaps into the Hall Winery vineyards, gave me a good chuckle.
Dinner that evening was at Farm Restaurant at our hotel. The bar with it’s fire pit was the ideal spot for a pre-dinner cocktail. The dining room with vaulted ceiling served some mouth-watering farm-to-table cuisine.
On our last day, we enjoyed a final lunch at our hotel at Hilltop Dining, which is open exclusively to guests staying at the Carneros Inn.