Not that there is ever a bad season to visit the Napa Valley. Each has its particular charms. Whether it is the bright splash of color from the mustard blossoms in February or the changing color of the leaves in October, there is always something to see. But here it is September and you find yourself looking to fill a day in Yountville. What to do?
First we should start with a little breakfast. Whether it is a sit down breakfast at Lucy’s at the Hotel Bardessono or a legendary English muffin from the Mini Model Bakery, we want to start the day with something in our stomachs. While we do not want to be full when we go wine tasting, neither do we want our stomachs growling the whole time. Our wine tasting is scheduled for 11am, so if we have a breakfast at 8am we should be just starting to have an appetite for lunch without being uncomfortably hungry.
After a lovely breakfast we can take a leisurely stroll down Washington Street to the Hill Family Estate tasting room for our 11am.
But wait a minute.
Isn’t 11am too early to taste wine?
Not really. Our palate tends to be at its most acute in the late morning, probably due to our body getting ready for lunch. Our sense of smell will be keen, and we will be able to study a few wines closely.
A tasting at the Hill Family Estate tasting room usually takes between an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half. We will start with crisp, refreshing whites and finish with a powerful red. Our tasting room wine educator will guide us on an olfactory voyage of discovery, where we will learn about how the particular part of the Napa Valley that each wine was grown in exerts its influence on the finished product. We will learn a bit about the Hill family, and a bit about the processes used to craft each wine.
Our enjoyment of the tasting will be enhanced by knowing that we can purchase more of this outstanding wine, and it can be shipped back home to us! If we are buying smaller amounts of wine from multiple wineries, we can rest assured that our hotel can provide wine shipping services. And should we be particularly smitten with a wine, our wine educator can advise us on which restaurants will open a Hill Family Estate wine you bring in without charging a corkage fee.
After our tasting we will want to have lunch (particularly if we have just been discussing food pairings with Hill Family Estate wines). Fortunately it is nearly impossible to get a bad meal in Yountville, so the choice is up to us: we can go for a simple slice of pizza at the Velo Deli or we can opt for one of several outstanding restaurants. The good news is that everything is on a mile stretch of Washington, so it will be easy to find and to walk to anything in town.
After lunch the more Mediterranean inclined will want to take a little siesta, followed by another tasting at one of the other fine tasting rooms in Yountville. If we have had enough wine, perhaps a round of golf at the Vintner’s Golf Club or a walk along the Napa Valley Bike Trail might make an amazing way to spend the afternoon. For those who want to exercise their vision (beyond simply taking in the beautiful scenery), a visit to the Napa Valley Museum on the grounds of the California State Veterans’ Home might be in order. If we need to work off a bit of lunch before dinner, a walk from one end of Yountville to the other is a great way to burn off calories!
What we don’t want to do, however, is to succumb to the temptation to have a glass of wine while strolling. That is illegal in California, and the Sheriff’s Deputies will cite you for it.
As dinner time rolls around, we are once again faced with an embarrassment of riches. Whether we opt for the Oaxacan cuisine of La Calenda, the Spanish fare of Coqueta, the flawless country French cooking of Bistro Jeanty or the American comfort food of Ad Hoc, we should have no trouble finding something that tickles our fancy. After dinner, an evening stroll along Washington should help us digest our dinner before we head off to bed, where we can drift to sleep, pleasantly recalling our perfect day in Yountville.