You needn’t venture too far north into the Napa Valley for an event-filled day of touring and tasting. This itinerary that combines some classic Napa experiences with a few local favorites assumes you’re staying in Napa or perhaps Yountville. Minus the morning stroll it also works as a longish day trip from San Francisco if you leave the city by 8 o’clock or so.
Begin the day with a stroll north along the Napa River, starting at the Riverfront Promenade near 5th and Main Streets behind the canary-yellow Angèle restaurant.
Tip: For a more strenuous wake-up call, head off to Skyline Wilderness Park for a jog or a hike. From 1st Street downtown drive south on Soscol Avenue and head east (left) on Imola Avenue.
Head over to Alexis Baking Company, where downtown locals linger over pastries or full breakfasts.
Internationally renowned artist Gordon Huether, a longtime Napan whose public installations include the Napa 9/11 Memorial Garden downtown, opens his studio on weekdays. A visit here provides a great opportunity chance to see a major artist (or his crew) at work.
Schedule a tasting at serene Whetstone Wine Cellars, inside an ivy-covered 1885 French-style château. If the weather’s nice, you can have your tasting on the stone patio out front. Viognier and Pinot Noir are the focus here.
Have lunch at chef Cindy Pawlcyn’s “deluxe truckstop,” Mustards Grill (reservations essential), for jazzed-up renditions of American classics. If you’re on a budget, swing back to Napa to the Fatted Calf or C Casa, both in the Oxbow Public Market.
Soak up views of vineyards and palisades at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, whose 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon placed first among 10 French and California wines in the famous 1976 “Judgment of Paris” tasting that made the Napa Valley’s reputation.
Slip over to downtown Yountville and stroll Washington Street, checking out the shops and (if the line’s not too long) stopping at Bouchon Bakery for a macaron or five. If you’re game for more wine tasting, Stewart Cellars, Hill Family Estate and the JCB Tasting Salon, all on Washington Street, stay open until early evening, (until 6 for Stewart and Hill and at least 7 for JCB).
Enjoy Thomas Keller’s deft take on casual French cuisine at Bouchon Bistro. Book at least a few weeks ahead if you want a table after 6 and before 8:30. If you can’t get into Bouchon, try Ad Hoc (American comfort food, also by Keller) Bistro Jeanty (classic French) or Redd Wood (casual Amer-Italian).