Posts Tagged ‘napa restaurants’

How to Order Wine Like an Expert

Monday, May 5th, 2014

No one wants to look foolish when ordering wine, but if you’re not used to drinking it, a wine menu can be overwhelming. If you’re planning a trip to Napa Valley, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the basics of ordering wine at a restaurant. Take the opportunity as a learning experience that will introduce you to something new and exciting.

Meal Choice and Preferences

Red or white is the first step. Some people have a strong preference for one or the other, while others use their meal as a guide. For instance, white wines generally go well with a lighter dish such as chicken or fish, while red wines are best suited for heavier dinners like steak. If you’re having lunch out, white is usually the best option.

Glass or Bottle

If multiple people at the table are having wine, it’s generally more cost effective to purchase a bottle. If your table can agree on a bottle, that’s great. Otherwise, it’s best to stick to a single glass so that everyone can have what they want, and you can sample various wines.

Seasonal Offerings

One of the wonderful things about Napa Valley is that the menus are always changing. Wine menus are typically arranged by the wine type or region, and listed by price range from lowest to highest. If you notice that the vintage year is added on the menu, then you know that the menu is updated regularly.

Ask for Recommendations

If you know what you like to a certain degree, you can ask the waiter for suggestions. If you want to stick to a certain budget, then it’s best to narrow down your search and ask the waiter to recommend the best one. In fact, in Napa Valley, some restaurants have a sommelier that is dedicated to serving wine.

Receiving the Wine

If you ordered a glass of wine, take a moment to swirl the wine and let the flavors mix in. Smell the aromas of the wine, and hold the wine glass at the stem instead of at the bowl where your hand could interfere with the temperature of the wine. If you ordered a bottle, verify that the label matches what you ordered. The cork should be slightly wet, and when opened, the wine should smell fruity. This is all part of the experience.

Wine Tasting Dos and Don’ts

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

If you’ve just planned an upcoming wine tasting, you may not be sure what to do. The idea may seem clear – you show up at a winery, sample various wines and mingle with others – but you may find yourself wondering about wine tasting etiquette as the date inches closer. Don’t worry, we have the dos and don’ts of wine tastings that will get you through your first of many wine tours.


In Napa Valley, the majority of wineries are open to the public, seven days a week. Still, it’s a good idea to call ahead and make sure that the winery can accommodate you during your stay, as some wineries are only open on the weekends or have limited hours. Wineries may also have rules about bringing along kids, large groups or limousines and tour buses.


Dressing casual yet sophisticated is best for winery tours. You want to be comfortable, as you’ll be walking around and probably going to several wineries in a day. But, you also want to look nice, as this is showing respect for the winery. Also pay attention to the weather, as sturdy shoes, umbrellas, sunscreen and sunglasses may be necessary. Also, lay low on strong perfumes and colognes since these can interfere with aromas and notes from the wine.

Drinking Wine

Wine tours are all about having fun, but there are things you can do to maximize the wine tasting experience. Set your glass down on a flat surface and swirl around the wine while holding the stem. Hold the wine glass at the stem rather than the bowl. This avoids fingerprints on the bowl, and keeps the wine at the right temperature. Inhale before taking a sip, and drink white and lighter wines before the dark, red wines. Sweet wines should be reserved for last.

Amount of Wine

You’re at a wine tasting, not a bar, so it’s polite to watch the quantity of wine you drink. Drink plenty of water and stop for lunch to break up a day of drinking if you’ll be touring multiple wineries. Generally, wineries pour one-ounce samples, and there are four to six ounces in a typical wine glass. Purchasing a bottle of wine from the winery is a kind gesture that will keep the memories going.

Themes for a Wine Country Visit – Part 1

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Most of us don’t need an excuse to visit Wine Country. With the abundant vineyards, wineries, restaurants, shops and hotels, it’s easy to sneak in a quick getaway without having to travel far or spend a lot of money. For some people, they enjoy planning a theme with their visit, and this approach can be helpful. When you have a reason for visiting Napa Valley, you can build a unique getaway and fine tune all of the details.

We’ve split the most popular themes for visitors into two parts. Don’t forget to check out Napa Valley Hotel and Suites that offers a handful of packages that will accommodate your visit with discounted rates and special amenities to build the perfect weekend.

Now tell us, does anything appeal to you?


Love to eat? Then you’ve come to the right place. Napa Valley is known for its Michelin-star restaurants, seasonal menu selections, locally grown produce and the great Culinary Institute of America. You can keep the visit unstructured and enjoy a variety of seasonal menu selections paired with red and white wines, or you can plan for culinary workshops and meeting celebrity chefs.

Romantic Getaway

Wine Country is the perfect setting for falling in love, and the hotels know this. That’s why you’ll find romantic packages with hotels like Napa Valley Hotel and Suites where you can get a comfy king size bed and bubbling jacuzzi. There are many activities to enjoy as a couple, such as wine tastings, balloon rides, bike riding and dining. The rolling hills and colorful vineyards set the stage for love throughout all seasons.

Girls’ Getaway

Need a break from work? The kids? Napa Valley has so much to offer for a girls’ out weekend. In addition to wine tastings and fine dining, there are several spas where you can be pampered for the day. Finish off your facial or massage with an afternoon shopping spree at Napa Premium Outlets.

Guys’ Getaway

It’s not just the girls who need to get away sometimes. Guys, too, enjoy coming to Napa Valley to take advantage of the many championship golf courses. Request the tee time of your choice, spend the afternoon under the warm California sun and finish off the day with a local beer selection with the guys. Get special pricing and tee times with the golf package.

Be sure to check out Part 2 for more great themes!

Spend More Time in Napa Valley in 2014

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

Something exciting is always going on in Napa Valley – new restaurants opening, events and celebrations – it’s a thriving, creative community. One of the more recent happenings in downtown is the opening of a new market-driven restaurant. The former chef at Cotogna and Quince, Sean O’Toole moved into a space in downtown on Napa’s Main Street (where Ubuntu used to be). His first solo endeavor, O’Toole says he spent the last 10 years opening restaurants for other people and now he wants to do it for himself. The name, TORC, is Gaelic for ‘wild boar’ and it is in homage to his Celtic ancestor’s coat of arms.

O’Toole’s cuisine defies being labeled. He says he draws on folk and traditional dishes from around the globe while using classic French and Italian techniques. To make the most of local ingredients, O’Toole has hired a professional forager, Connie Green – author of Wild Table – to do the dirty work.

Restaurant details: 1140 Main Street, open 5:30-9:00 p.m. seven nights a week.

Stay with us at Napa Valley Hotel and Suites. Call 707-226-1871 to make reservations and you’ll be within a short walk of one of the best new restaurants to hit the Napa Valley scene. See the details of our Winter Break packages and call to reserve your rooms today.

Napa residents are nothing if not creative. Just take a look at this new take on tasting – the downtown culinary stroll. The fact that downtown Napa has so many amazing restaurants and tasting rooms can be overwhelming for some, so First Taste put together a strolling tour of various restaurants and wine tasting rooms – all of which featured small bites and tastes. Chefs and tasting room managers greeted guests with insights on how the food and wine were prepared and why the flavors are so unique to Napa Valley. If you didn’t make it in 2013, take a look at the 2014 Flavor! Napa Valley lineup for your tickets now.

Call the friendly staff at Napa Valley Hotel and Suites or make your reservation online today. By staying with us, you can put together your own strolling wine-and-dine treat.

A Closer Look at Napa Valley’s Fine Restaurants

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

You probably read a lot about Napa Valley and its reputation for fine dining. There are five-star restaurants, seasonal menus and impeccable locales that lie within beautiful Wine Country. But what is it about these restaurants that make the headlines? When you read that you can actually travel to Napa Valley and spend the whole time eating, you have to wonder, is it true?

There are a few factors that make Napa restaurants a cut above the rest.

Locally Grown Ingredients

Napa Valley may be a popular place to travel to, but the integrity of the area has never been compromised. Wine Country is an area that relies heavily on its own resources. Locally grown produce is a staple in many of the dishes served in Napa restaurants. Thanks to the area’s climate, soil and natural resources, there’s no reason to look any further than Napa for the best ingredients. What you’ll find are fresh ingredients that add taste, color, texture and variety. Plus, you know you’re getting healthier ingredients with fewer pesticides while also supporting the local economy.

Seasonal Menus

The weather is almost always ideal in Napa Valley, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t subtle differences between each season. Napa’s restaurants offer up seasonal menus that accommodate the various seasons (heartier meals in the winter; light, refreshing dishes in the spring and summer). Look for a variety of produce, meats and seafood that come fresh from local farms. Also, the constantly changing menus mean that you can expect new dishes being offered all of the time. After all, variety spices things up!

Wines to Complement Every Dish

Of course, you can’t eat a meal in Wine Country without being offered a glass of wine. Napa Valley has the finest wines that come directly from the local vineyards. There are wines to accommodate all types of dishes, such as sweet reds and light, fruity white wines. You can pick various wine selections for your meals, and have fun experimenting with a variety of flavors. Plus, it’s nice to see that when your server opens a bottle of wine for your table, you know exactly where it’s coming from.

Beyond the Wineries: Exploring Downtown Napa

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

When it comes to Napa Valley, it’s the wine tours and tastings that get the most attention. Napa Valley is far more than wineries, and for anyone who has visited our beautiful city before, you know that there are endless opportunities for fine dining, boutique shopping, outdoor activities and arts and culture. If you’re planning a trip to Napa Valley this fall or winter, you’ll be pleased with our weather that is fairly comfortable – although a bit rainy at times – so that you can enjoy outdoor activities.

What we recommend is that visitors take the time to explore downtown Napa. If you reserve a room at Napa Valley Hotel and Suites, you’ll be staying in the historic Old Town Napa, with plenty of access to local attractions. This way, you don’t have to pay for transportation, and you can see some of the most exciting attractions on foot. For business travelers and families, this is especially important since they don’t want to get back in the car and drive around.

Some of our favorite picks to visit or do in downtown Napa include:

-Town Center Mall
-Trolley rides
-Napa Opera House
-Copia American Center
-Napa Oxbow Public Market
-Napa Premium Outlets
-Spas and fitness centers
-Fuller Park
-Kennedy Park
-Golden Gate Bridge
-Pier 39
-Redwood trees

If you’d like, you can also plan a day trip to San Francisco and experience the local culture and history in the city. If you’re not interested in additional traveling or spending a lot of money, you can expect a full trip just by staying in Napa Valley. However, it’s always nice to know that there are other places to visit around the Napa Valley area, keeping everyone happy and content on their vacation.

Also be sure to check out the events that are going on, as Napa is known for their active nightlife, festivals and events. We are a city built on arts and culture, so we’re pleased to bring our visitors – and residents – endless opportunities for local arts, theater and fine cuisine.

Experience all that Historic Downtown Napa Has to Offer

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

historic downtown napaWhen you visit Napa, you’re stepping into a historic place – a place steeped in charm with stories around every corner. For over 150 years, this little spot along the Napa River has served as the center of commerce for the surrounding valley filled with farmers and growers. Many of the buildings that grace downtown Napa are pre-1906 and there are more of them here than in San Francisco or any other Bay Area city.

To explore all that historic downtown Napa has to offer, we recommend getting started early:

  • The Napa Valley Welcome Center on Main Street has walking maps and the friendly folks there can help you work out a great tour of downtown Napa. Parking is free and it’s open daily 9-5.
  • No visit to Napa is complete without a stop at the Oxbow Public Market where you can load up your backpack and your belly to fuel your historic walking tour.
  • In the afternoon, a stroll by the Vintage Sweet Shoppe – in operation in Napa for over thirty years. This is an excellent treat and they even offer a chocolate and wine pairing!

A downloadable trip planning map is available – and you can review some recommended itineraries as well.

Stay with us at Napa Valley Hotel and Suites – call 707-226-1871 to make reservations. You can enjoy all that historic Napa Valley has to offer in the late summer season.

Some of the other things that can fill your days in and/or near downtown Napa include the following:

  • Soar over Napa in a Hot Air Balloon – A unique kind of wine country tour that you’ll remember forever. Under the guidance of experienced hot air balloon pilots, you’ll soar above vineyards and experience the beautiful Napa Valley from a unique vantage point.
  • Explore the Napa Valley Outdoors – Take a bike, kayak, or hiking tour with Napa Valley Adventure Tours. Stop in at their downtown location right on First Street and set up your outdoor adventure.
  • Enjoy a luxurious ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train – A special way to see the heart of Napa Valley, this fully restored antique train departs downtown Napa and runs 36 miles through the valley to the small town of St. Helena and back. The Wine Train offers great regional food and hard to find wines too.

In short, there’s no shortage of things to keep you busy in downtown Napa and beyond to the Napa Valley – start planning your trip today!

Call the friendly staff at Napa Valley Hotel and Suites or make your reservation online today. You’ll be right in the heart of downtown Napa and you can begin your adventure in style.

Napa Valley Fall Events 2013

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Looking for fun events in Wine Country to celebrate the beautiful fall season? Napa Valley has something to offer everyone, so keep an eye out for these upcoming events.

ZD Wines Walk in Our Winemaker’s Boots, October 18, 2013

10 am and 1 pm, $75 per person

Join ZD’s winemaking team for a Cellar Tour during the 2013 harvest season. Guests get behind-the-scenes access and can taste the fermenting wines from the 2013 harvest. Also to be enjoyed is wine maturing in the barrel, and the wines are paired with select cheeses and chocolate.

VIADER Napa Valley: VIADER Vertical Tasting at Twilight, October 19, 2013

  • 3-5:30 pm, $50 Guest

  • Join winemaker Delia Viader and her family for a guided tour on Howell Mountain. Enjoy selected Library Reserve wines and current release wines that will be personally presented by the winemakers. Guests will also enjoy a variety of hors d’oeuvres that are prepared by Executive Chef Mariela Viader.

Luna Harvest Honkey-Tonk, October 19, 2013

  • 6-10 pm, $75 for general admission or $65 for club members

  • The Luna Harvest offers a vast wine selection, and music from local favorite Twang Ditty. The menu includes fried chicken and BBQ pork sliders.

Bell Wine Cellars: Harvest Tour, October 21, 2013

  • 10:30 am, $60 per person, $30 club members

  • Get a 101 lesson about the ABCs of winemaking from vineyard and bottle. Walk through the vineyards and see the grapes that are used to make Chardonnay and Merlot. Taste fermenting juice, climb on top of the tanks and watch the juice circulations. Meet with Proprietor Sandra Bell and observe harvest activities such as crushing and pressing grapes. Attendees will also get to enjoy five varieties of wine paired with artisan cheeses.

Castello di Amorosa: The Pagan Ball, October 26, 2013

  • 8-12 pm, $120 Wine Club Members/$150 Guests

  • This is the biggest and best Halloween party in the Napa Valley area, and the 6th annual Pagan Ball. Wear your favorite Halloween costume to this traditional Halloween party with tricks and treats. There will be wine hour, a tour through the Haunted Chambers, a DJ, fortune tellers and food and wine stations.

Downtown Napa is the Ultimate Culinary Destination…with Walking Tours!

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Long ago, the Napa was very remote – it wasn’t close to a big city, and the residents liked it that way because they wanted to live closer to the food they ate, and savor the natural flavor of good quality ingredients. Those traditions live strong in Napa ,which boasts many farm-to-table restaurants, world-class chefs and award-winning cuisine on every street. You’ll find the top local chefs at the Napa Farmers Market every morning because they care about the freshness of the food they serve.

Of course, Napa Valley residents stick close to their roots too – there’s a restaurant for every taste, every occasion, and every budget because we eat here too and we take pride in the joy of dining with great company.

  • Looking for some great barbecue with your wine? Try the Bounty Hunter Wine Bar and Smokin’ BBQ. They have over 40 wines by the glass and 400 by the bottle!
  • Want to snag a little afternoon sweet treat? Check out the Sweetie Pies Bakery right in downtown Napa in the historic Hatt Mill, and here’s a secret: they also serve breakfast and are open seven days a week!

One of the best things about staying in downtown Napa is that you’re so close to everything. Enjoy a walk or bike ride to your next stop and you’ll work off all those calories, plus you can refill at the next stop!

There are so many wonderful tastes to enjoy in Napa and a stay at the Napa Valley Hotel and Suites puts you right in the middle of things.

Talking about a walking-foodie tour, we’ve got one of the best in the nation. The Gourmet Napa Walking Tour is a 3-hour tour of downtown Napa. Now before you think walking for three hours will be awful, note that it’s a flat route, just 1 mile long, with plenty of time to sit, taste, and sip your way through some of the best foods available in Napa Valley.

There’s more to Napa than simply tasting wines, so the tour starts at the Oxbow market where you’ll see and sample the bounty of California’s extraordinary selections. Then you’ll cross the river and visit the 19th century historic buildings that weathered Prohibition. You’ll also leave the tour with a hand-selected list of the best restaurants and recipes for your next meal.

Call us at 707-226-1871 for your Napa Valley reservations and book your fun foodie tour today. You can’t beat the price and the opportunity to learn all about the famous Napa Valley cuisine.

Bring Out of Town Guests or Take a Road Trip to Napa this Summer

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

The Napa Valley is a great place to bring out of town guests this summer. It’s also a great destination for a road trip simply because there’s so much variety – so many things to do and see.

For starters, historic downtown Napa has:

  • Over 70 remarkable restaurants that celebrate the joys of dining. Many Michelin-star awarded celebrity chefs make their home here because they can take advantage of the local farms and artisan ingredients.
  • Over 20 wine tasting rooms fully stocked with the highly acclaimed wines from the nearby wineries – no need to drive to visit each one if you’d rather stay put.
  • Many delightful shops each offering treasures to be enjoyed as well as a number of places to find gourmet foods and wine.

Plus, downtown Napa is the perfect place to start excursions into the glorious Napa Valley with wine country tours, hot air balloon rides, guided river adventures, and much more. Ever wanted to ride a historic passenger rail line? The Napa Valley Wine Train is one of the nation’s most active historic passenger railroads and a great opportunity to enjoy unique food and wine pairings with the Wine Train’s Vintner’s Lunch Series.

Stay with us at the Napa Valley Hotel and Suites and you’ll be in close range (often within walking distance) of all the best that Napa Valley has to offer.

Stay with us for a week, or stay for just a weekend, and you can enjoy outdoor activities that will take your breath away:

  • Tour Napa on a bike or take a kayak tour of the Napa River with Getaway Adventures.
  • Take a hike or bike ride with Napa Valley Adventure Tours – a tour company that knows how to add a little gourmet to your Napa adventure.
  • Float high above the beautiful Napa Valley fields, vineyards and orchards in a hot air balloon.
  • Check out the Napa Farmer’s Market which is held every Tuesday and Saturday through the summer.

No matter how you look at Napa Valley, there’s something for everyone in your party to enjoy!

Call us at Napa Valley Hotel and Suites to reserve your room and we’ll help you design an itinerary that’s unique to you. Call 707-226-1871 for more details and pricing.