First Time Visitor’s Guide to Napa Valley

July 31st, 2014

Planning your first trip to Napa Valley is a fun and rewarding experience! It can get confusing since everyone has an opinion on where to go and what to do, but rest assured that there’s something for everyone, which means you can easily plan a trip around your own hobbies and interests. From wine tastings to outdoor activities to spa days, Wine Country is built around relaxation, enjoyment and the simple life!

Here are helpful tips for planning your first visit to Napa Valley.

When to Visit

The most popular time to visit Napa is during the summer. There’s nothing wrong with visiting at this time of the year, but do expect the temperatures to be warm and the crowds to be large. We think the best time to visit is right now, in the fall! September and October is crush time when the grapes are being harvested, the temperatures are cooler and the crowds are much smaller. Spring is also a great time to visit because the weather is warm, possibly a bit rainy, and the mustard plants are in full bloom.

Where to Stay

There are several areas that are suitable for staying at, including Yountville or Calistoga. But, the BEST place to stay is in Downtown Napa – hands down. Downtown Napa is trendy and quaint, with plenty of great restaurants and shopping. It’s also one of the less expensive places to stay, and you get all the convenience of the downtown area. Check out Napa Valley Hotel and Suites that is in the heart of it all and offers great rates.

What to Do

Like we said before, Napa Valley has a little something for everyone. An outdoor enthusiast will love hiking or biking through the valleys. A foodie will enjoy the seasonal menus at the local restaurants that offer fresh produce and seafood. There’s also shopping, spas and golf to pass the afternoon. Perhaps the one thing that everyone does enjoy is a visit to a winery.

You may hear people tell you that certain wineries are ‘too touristy’, but don’t take that to heart. Just because some wineries attract more tourists than others doesn’t mean they’re not worth seeing. Some of these wineries are what made Napa famous in the beginning! Choose 3-4 wineries to visit in a day, and be sure to call ahead if you need special accommodations. Most wineries are very accommodating and even welcome children and pets!

Enjoy Vintner’s Dinner or Lunch on the Napa Valley Wine Train

July 29th, 2014

The ever popular Vintners Dinner or Lunch on the Napa Valley Wine Train is a weekly gourmet dining experience featuring a special vintner each month. Guest vintners share insights on wine-making and answer your questions while the train winds its way through the beautiful scenery of Napa Valley. Not only do you get extraordinary views, you can learn more about the wines, wine supping, and growing in Napa Valley right from the source.

This August, the Wine Train is featuring Wine Director, Cheryl Stotler, and Executive Chef, Kelly MacDonald. They’ll join forces to plan a lip-smacking four-course gourmet lunch or dinner specially designed to perfectly complement the wine choices.

  • The Vintners’ Dinner features Jericho Canyon wines on August 8th.
  • The Vintners’ Lunch features ZD Wines on August 15th and Castello Di Amorosa on August 22nd.

Schedule your stay at the Napa Valley Hotel and Suites to enjoy the Napa Wine Train offerings.

The Napa Valley Wine Train also features Murder Mystery plays and Moonlight Escapes to entertain visitors. Murder Mystery is a dinner theater event and this month is featuring “The Detectives Club”. The Moonlight Escape gourmet dinner event takes place in the Vista Dome railcar with near 180-degree views. Gliding through the evening vineyards under the silver light of the moon, you’ll enjoy a five-course dinner, wine, and other delectable treats.

See the full calendar of Wine Train Events. Seating at each of these events is limited, so get your tickets early.

Call our friendly staff at 707-226-1871 to book your late-summer stay in Napa Valley today.

Wine Etiquette: The Wine Tasting Process

July 24th, 2014

When you visit Napa Valley, you’ll likely go on several wine tours to the local wineries. Wine tours are fun, relaxing and enjoyable, but you may be unsure of what to expect. How are you supposed to drink the wine? Is there any type of etiquette that you should follow?

Typically, you want to taste wines in the order of light white to heavy reds, leaving the sweet wines for the end. Otherwise, if you drink a dry wine after a sweet wine, it will usually taste bitter. Wine tasting is all about the experience, so make sure you use your senses when it comes to tasting each wine.

  • See: Focus on the hue, intensity and clarity of the wine. The true color is judged by tilting the glass and looking at the wine through the rim. The intensity can be gauged by looking straight down into the wine, while the clarity can be determined when the light is shining sideways through the wine.

  • Smell: Now comes the swirling, which allows you to smell the wine. Rest the base of the glass on a table, hold the stem between the thumb and forefinger and rotate the wrist gently. The wine should climb to the rim – almost. You don’t want to splash wine on yourself.

  • Taste: Take a small sip and breathe through the wine when it’s in your mouth, sort of like sucking a spaghetti noodle. This aerates the wine and involves your nasal senses, completing the whole experience.

You do not have to rinse your mouth in between tastes since water can ruin a healthy pH balance that sets the stage for your next taste. And, if you don’t like a particular wine, you don’t have to finish it. Every bar has a dump bucket for this.

If you discover that you only like whites or reds, or you know this in advance, you may request only these wines. Also, you don’t have to finish every good wine. It’s not bad etiquette to dump out some of the wine. After all, you’ll probably be heading to another winery later, so you should leave room for more tasting.

We hope this information helps you to taste wines like a pro at your next wine tour. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, refresh your palate with crackers and cheese or explore with new flavors and wine selections. This is what wine tasting is all about!

Music in the Vineyards – 20th Anniversary Season

July 21st, 2014

After years of sold-out concerts, the 2014 Music in the Vineyards Festival has finally been able to expand to four weeks. This year, the festival is featuring performances by over 80 musicians in 18 different Napa Valley wineries where the music, the ambiance, and the wine share the center stage to the audience’s delight.

No summer celebration would be complete without a party, and in this case there are two:

In between both weekends, the festival will host special concerts featuring such artists as acclaimed soprano Dawn Upshaw, two superb ensembles: the Escher and Pacifica String Quartets, and violinist Youjin Lee, just to name a few.

Contact the Napa Valley Hotel and Suites or call 707-226-1871 to reserve your room today for your spot at the 2014 Music in the Vineyards Festival.

Tickets to individual events are on sale now, and some events sell out quickly. You can purchase tickets online and no fees are charged in addition to the ticket prices.

See the full schedule of events to choose the nights or weekend you want to stay and enjoy Napa Valley. Performances are in the evening, so you have all day to enjoy the valley before heading to the evening entertainment.

Free open rehearsals are a huge draw in the afternoons. They serve an opportunity for music lovers of all ages and levels to understand how musicians prepare for their performance before a live crowd.

Check our room availability at Napa Valley Hotel and Suites. Call us at 707-226-1871 to arrange your stay and enjoy some of the most beautiful music ever heard across the valley.

Plan an End-of-Summer Getaway to Napa Valley

July 17th, 2014

It’s hard to believe that summer is coming to a close in less than a month! it seems like just yesterday, everyone was planning the start of their summers. Even though kids will be back in school soon and summer activities will be winding down, there is still plenty of beautiful, warm weather to be enjoyed. Here are a few reasons why planning an end-of-summer getaway to Napa Valley may be in the cards for you this year!

Start of Harvest Season

If you plan to visit Wine Country during the last week of August, you can experience the start of harvest season. The sparkling wine grapes are being picked and crushed, and you may get the opportunity to see this happening in the vineyards or be a part of it! Even if you travel in the beginning of August, you get to see what the vineyards look like ripe and full. It’s a truly neat experience.

Summer Activities and Festivals

Napa Valley is home to many festivals throughout the summer months, and August is no exception. Close out your summer with the Napa Valley Chamber Music Festival lasting the entire month of August. Other fun activities include Movies in the Park (in both Napa and Yountville) and Napa City Nights. These activities are great for the whole family and give back to the local community.

Farmers Markets

Produce is still in season in Napa Valley, so you can get your hands on delicious, fresh produce from the local farms. Try the Oxbow Public Market, Napa Farmers Market or Calistoga Farmers Market. Not only are there great foods to pick from, but also cooking classes, handmade crafts, gourmet food vendors and artisan vendors. There are also special activities for kids, such as Story Time.

Visitor Friendly

August may be hot in other places, but it’s rather comfortable in Napa Valley (around the 80s and 90s). Since the heat is dry, it’s not hot, humid or sticky. The beautiful weather and start of harvest season are what draw a lot of people in, and you could look at this as an advantage or disadvantage. Sure, the crowds will be bigger and the lines longer, but there is more to do, more people to interact with and a dynamic environment.

First-Time Visitors to Napa Valley – Build Your Perfect Itinerary with Us

July 12th, 2014

Many a first-time visitor to Napa Valley gets overwhelmed by the wealth of options, restaurants, things to do, entertainment, and events that are all right here. We understand; that’s why we host so many second- and third-time visitors at the Napa Valley Hotel and Suites. One simply cannot do it all in a single visit.

Ideally, we recommend visiting annually so you can identify and re-visit your favorites and take in what’s new. We also recommend visiting at different times of the year because Napa Valley has four distinct seasons. It looks, feels, and tastes different every season.

Just a short hour and a half from the Sacramento, Oakland, and San Francisco airports, it’s only a hop, skip, and jump to Napa Valley.

Contact the Napa Valley Hotel and Suites or call 707-226-1871 to reserve your room today for your first or next visit to Napa Valley.

At the Napa Valley Hotel and Suites, we noticed our first-time and even second-time visitors had trouble fitting it all in. So, we created the Itinerary Planner to help:

Step 1: Explore all there is to do in Napa Valley

Step 2: Select what you want to do and see and add it to your itinerary

Step 3: Drag items around until you get the perfect itinerary

Even if you’ve visited Napa before, there are still things you haven’t seen or done. Take the Itinerary Planner for a test drive and see if it makes a difference in planning your visit to Napa Valley.

Check our room availability at Napa Valley Hotel and Suites. Call us at 707-226-1871 to arrange your stay and get started enjoying the Napa Valley, with the perfect itinerary in hand!

5 Signs of a Great Napa Valley Hotel

July 10th, 2014

Booking a hotel room isn’t exactly rocket science, but it’s a decision that warrants some careful consideration. If you’re planning a getaway to Napa Valley, for instance, you want to book a room in a nice, comfortable hotel with staff that is happy to meet your requests. So, before you book a hotel, pay attention to these five signs of a great hotel.

1. Accommodating Staff

These days, it’s harder to tell if a hotel has good staff because so many people book a room online and don’t interact with the staff – until it’s time for their vacation. Before you book the room online, call the hotel and ask a question. The staff should be friendly, accommodating and happy to have you. You can also ask about where to find the best deals: online or over the phone.

2. Good Reviews

No hotel is going to have perfect reviews. Still, the overall rating of the hotel should be favorable, and you should do your research by checking several sites. If there are a lot of poor reviews, determine why. If you notice something consistent that people are complaining about – dirty rooms, unhelpful staff – this may indicate an underlying issue. At the minimum, you should read reviews that are happy with the cleanliness, convenience and courtesy of the hotel.

3. Prime Location

Not every good hotel has to be in a prime location, but those that are located in the heart of it all have more competition and more volume, and they must be able to meet these needs. Typically, only the best hotels occupy the convenience of downtown areas. Napa Valley Hotel and Suites, for instance, is located in the heart of historic Old Town Napa. You can’t be that! Plus, it’s helpful to be in a central location because this means less travel for you, which saves time and money.

4. Neat, Clean and Orderly

Look at the pictures that people have posted, as well as photos from the hotel’s website. What do the rooms look like? The lobby? Good hotels are proud of what they have to offer, so you should be able to see how well the hotel keeps up with their rooms, swimming pool, exercise room and lobby. Usually, reviews cover how clean the hotel is since this is one of the most important factors. A good hotel is a clean hotel.

5. Honest Services

What types of amenities are offered when you stay at the hotel? A good hotel will offer you all the right services without feeling a need to charge. Freshly brewed coffee. Extra towels. Free Wi-Fi. Flat screen televisions and luxury linens. Your stay should be comfortable and accommodating, and this should be included in the price you pay.

Light up the Night with Napa City Nights

July 5th, 2014

Napa City Nights is presenting a 2014 summer concert series in downtown Napa at the Veteran’s Memorial Park Amphitheater – just a short distance from the Napa Valley Hotel and Suites. Napa City Nights was started in 2008 by a group of musicians and music lovers with a mission to re-invent the local Napa music scene.

Napa City Nights is a successful, fun, free and family-friendly summer concert series for locals and tourists in the newly renovated Veterans’ Memorial Park Amphitheater. It remains an event where local musicians can showcase their talent and it draws as many as 10,000 music enthusiasts every year.

Schedule your stay at the Napa Valley Hotel and Suites to enjoy the Napa City Nights summer series.

The Veterans’ Memorial Park Amphitheater is Napa’s first, and so far the only, outdoor venue. Nestled along the Napa River Walk within easy walking distance to wine bars, restaurants, and the local culture of downtown Napa, it is the ideal location for a summer music series. The amphitheater has terraced seating areas, elegant lighting, and beautiful views of the Napa River – a truly unique backdrop for the talented musicians playing Jazz, Country, Blues, Folk, and more.

Napa City Nights is held every Friday evening from 6:30 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.

  • July 11th the Bonedrivers with Buck Nickels and Loose Change
  • July 18th Forejour – the Foreigner and Journey Tribute
  • July 25th is Nuclear Blond, Jimmy Smith Band, and Chayah Miranda

See the full calendar. Napa City Nights is always free and fun for the entire family.

Call our friendly staff at 707-226-1871 to book your summer-time stay in Napa Valley today.

4 Reasons to Spend Fourth of July in Napa Valley

June 30th, 2014

Fourth of July is right around the corner, and you may be wondering where to spend this fun-filled summer holiday. Our recommendation: Napa Valley! Wine Country is filled with nonstop festivals, events, wine tastings and fireworks that will give everyone in your group something to remember!

Here are FOUR great reasons why you should spend the Fourth of July in Napa Valley. (Like you needed any convincing!)

1. Restaurants and Wineries Galore

If you don’t want to spend your summer days walking around festivals, then head over to any of the restaurants or wineries that are open on the Fourth, which include most. You can enjoy an interesting and unique wine tour, walk through the vineyards and sample new wine selections. With fresh produce from the local farms, you can also enjoy tasty summer menus from many of the local restaurants.

2. Festivals and Celebrates that Sizzle

There’s something about summer that says ‘festivals.’ So, if you’re someone who enjoys listening to live music, tasting samples of food and enjoying wine samples under the tent, then you’ll find endless festivals and celebrations to enjoy during Fourth of July weekend. One of our favorite events includes the Napa Valley County Fair and Fireworks in Calistoga. Here you can find food, wine, live music, rides, attractions and an impressive fireworks show.

3. Luxury Lodging for a Pleasant Night’s Rest

We can understand that you may not want to drive home after a long day in Napa Valley. Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable luxury hotels in the area that will make your Fourth of July weekend safe and fun! Check out the summer packages from Napa Valley Hotel and Suites for comfy rooms in the center of it all. You’ll be within walking distance to downtown Napa Valley.

4. Board the Napa Valley Wine Train

Why should you board the Wine Train on the holiday weekend? Two reasons. First, you get to indulge in a gourmet meal on a comfy train. Second, you get to watch the fireworks from a front row seat. The Napa Valley Wine Train is always fun, but it gets an added dose of originality when you get to ride, dine and watch the fireworks all at once.

Cherish a Few of those Long Summer Days in Napa Valley

June 28th, 2014

Napa Valley is an easy drive from the Bay Area and it offers a wide range of activities that are perfect for summer time.

Book an Africa Safari on the Sonoma Serengeti at Safari West

Ever wanted to take a safari? Well, now you can and it won’t involve a series of vaccinations. Safari West is a world class African adventure right in the heart of California wine country where you can see exotic wildlife, take photographs you thought you could only get in Africa, and still be tucked comfortably into your room with a glass of wine at night.

See a Geyser – the Old Faithful Geyser of California

One of three geysers in the world deserving of the designation ‘old faithful’ is a treasured Calistoga attraction. The geyser erupts at regular intervals of 30 minutes and shoots scalding hot water 100 feet into the air. The facilities include picnic tables, a petting zoo, and more, so it’s an excellent place to take the kids with a picnic lunch. Located a short drive from the Napa Valley Hotel and Suites, a visit to California’s Old Faithful is an easy, nature-inspired adventure.

Schedule your stay at the Napa Valley Hotel and Suites and enjoy one of our summer-inspired packages to make your stay even better!

A stay in Napa Valley is inspired by all sorts of outdoor fun, including:

  • Hiking trails such as those found in the Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. One five-mile hike to the summit of Mount St. Helena offers a spectacular view of the San Francisco Bay Area. Another leads to the cabin where Stevenson and his wife honeymooned in 1880.
  • Hot air balloon rides over the rural and breathtaking landscape of Napa Valley and nearby Calistoga for a real bird’s eye view of the region.
  • Kayaking along the Napa River for a quiet day of bird watching or just a way to see the area from a different perspective.

With the long days of summer fast approaching, how do you plan to get away from routine life? Give our team a call and schedule your stay in Napa Valley this summer. Check out the summer stay packages to stretch your summer play dollars even further.

Call our friendly staff at 707-226-1871 to book your summer-time stay in Napa Valley today.