A culinary hotspot and magnet for wine aficionados, Napa Valley is a simply stunning honeymoon location – oozing romance and timeless charm. A leisurely one-and-a-half-hour drive from San Francisco, the world-class wine region comprises several picturesque towns stretched over 35 miles, including Napa, Yountville, Calistoga and St Helena. You could easily while away a romantic week or two here, but it’s equally worth popping over for just a few days of delicious fun!
Sample Some Top Drops: Cue the quaffing and talk of tannins – it’s wine tasting time! With its Mediterranean climate making it an ideal grape-growing destination, the region has around 400 wineries. Bookings are often required even for tastings, so a winery tour is a simple (and fun!) way to explore the valley.
Platypus Tours takes day tours throughout the region, with catered picnic-style lunches, barrel tastings, a ‘nosh’ plate to enjoy en route and lots of opportunities for tastings! For those who prefer two wheels, Yountville’s Napa Valley Bike Tours promises to be an enjoyable option. Not keen on pedal power? Napa Valley Bike Tours can also hook you up with your own private driver, so you can be transported from cellar-door to cellar-door in style.
When on tour, expect to still pay tasting fees, but many wineries waive these if you make a purchase.
Up, Up and Away: Napa Valley is charming on the ground, but from the air – it’s truly breathtaking! Napa’s still mornings provides perfect ballooning climes, and the rows of verdant vines are even more beautiful from above, making a hot-air balloon tour a honeymoon experience to treasure.
Napa Valley Balloons hosts early morning flights followed by a sumptuous buffet breakfast and mimosas at the luxurious Domaine Chandon winery. With hotel pick-up on offer from select accommodation and pre-flight pastries and coffee, it’s worth getting out of bed for!
Epicurean Delight: Nestled in St Helena is The Culinary Institute of America, the Californian branch of the world-renowned college for aspiring chefs – a must-see for food enthusiasts! Attend a demonstration and enjoy tastings, take a cooking class or, for the hard-core foodie, hone your skills at a cooking, baking or wine bootcamp!
You can also tour the campus and dine at one of the onsite restaurants – the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant, The Conservatory at Greystone or The Bakery Café by illy.
Spanning casual eateries to Michelin-starred menus, Napa Valley is a dream destination for any foodie couple.
The Markets: Stroll through Oxbow Public Market in Napa’s town centre to browse through fresh produce and select gourmet products from local and regional producers. Sip bubbles and slurp oysters, enjoy a drink, grab a freshly roasted coffee, pick up some artisan cheese, indulge in pastries or spend time searching for quality cooking ingredients.
Wine Bars: Downtown Napa has plenty of places to enjoy a drink paired with delicious local fare. Carpe Diem Wine Bar is a sophisticated establishment known for its share plates, charcuterie and cheese selections, as well as its enviable wine list. With around 40 wines available by the glass, you are bound to find a few you like!
Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ serves up all-American fare – think ribs, burgers and brisket – and the menu comes complete with recommended wine pairings. In addition to its 18-page wine list, you can try fine spirits, including a huge selection of American whiskeys.
Fine Dining: For an evening to remember, make a fine dining experience part of your itinerary. The tiny town of Yountville boasts some serious culinary credentials on its main street. Here you’ll find Thomas Keller’s legendary The French Laundry, a three Michelin-star heavyweight, as well as his Bouchon Bistro – an elegant Michelin-star French eatery. Other decadent dining options in Yountville include Bottega (Italian) and Bistro Jeanty (French country).
From intimate inns to sprawling estates, the region abounds with amazing places to rest your head after a day of exploring.
For a stay reminiscent of a bygone era, book into Hennessey House, located in historic downtown Napa. Each charming room has luxury linen, plus complimentary sherry and chocolates. Enjoy delicious breakfasts, wine and cheese on the shady patio and freshly baked cookies– perfect!
Images by Anika Staffa and Mitch Reynolds
In Yountville, select one of the 13 rustic rooms on offer at Maison Fleurie, a Four Sisters Inn enveloped by delightful gardens. Buffet breakfast? Check. Pool and hot tub? You bet. The inn also offers bicycles to borrow – the ideal way to see the town!
A short drive from Napa, Silverado Resort and Spa is a spectacular high-end option. The expansive property features two golf courses, tennis courts, biking and hiking trails, an array of dining options, full-service spa and four ‘neighbourhoods’ of accommodation to choose from. You and your love will never want to leave!
Ms Chinoiserie Says: What an amazing honeymoon destination – the balloon flight is on my list; what an unforgettable experience!
About Anika: I’m a freelance writer with a love of weddings and creatively styled events. I have a penchant for pretty stationery and perfectly put together cheese plates, and a never-ending sense of wanderlust!