Napa

6 Things I Learned While Visiting Napa

Happy Monday everybody and happy last full week of work before Thanksgiving! I’m still so surprised that it’s already that time of the year because up until last week we were still getting into the 80s here in Texas. Chris and I got a nice break from the warm weather this weekend when we went on our last weekend trip of the year to the Napa Valley to spend some time relaxing and wine tasting! I’m linking up with Biana to tell you all about what I learned from our second trip to Napa!

The Wandering Weekenders- 6 Things I Learned While Visiting Napa

  1. The fall is the most beautiful time to visit Napa- Originally we had scheduled this trip for September but we had to reschedule because of work. At the time I was bummed, but looking back on this weekend, it couldn’t have turned out more perfectly! Napa during the fall is nothing short of pure perfection! The temperatures aren’t too hot and not too cold, there aren’t a ton of people around, and the entire area is a sea of reds, yellows, oranges, and greens! It felt like we were in New England instead of California and I loved it! I think that all of my future trips to Napa will be in the fall because it’s that beautiful!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 6 Things I Learned While Visiting Napa
  2. There are two different Stag’s Leap Wineries- After our first trip to Napa a couple of years ago, I became obsessed with California wine and loved trying out different wines from the area. One that we would try out quite often was Stag’s Leap since it’s one of the more well known wineries in the area. We didn’t have a chance to visit there last time we were there, but I did book us a tour this time around. While our guide was telling us about the winery and its history, he told us about another winery that had started to produce wine under the name Stag’s Leap as well. Both wineries sued each other and the result of the lawsuit was that the original winery became Stags’ Leap while the new winery was Stag’s Leap. I had noticed that the labeling was different on the bottles by I had no idea that they were actually 2 completely different wineries!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 6 Things I Learned While Visiting Napa
  3. I actually like Merlot- I don’t usually consider myself discriminatory when it comes to wine, although Chris might beg to differ sometimes, but I just don’t really have a thing for Merlot. I think that it’s because they’re not as full bodied as I normally like my red. Well, that all changed on this trip. We tried some fantastic Merlots and even bought a few bottles of it. I think that it goes to show that we might have to spend a little bit more money on the Merlot that we buy. I swear every time we go to Napa we come back liking a new type of wine. Last time it was whites and sparkling wines, this time it’s Merlot!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 6 Things I Learned While Visiting Napa
  4. Most wineries mix all of their barrels together- One of the things that I love about blogging is that it gives me the opportunity to get some really great suggestions from other people. I was talking to Carolann from Finding Ithaka about our upcoming trip and she recommended that we do the cave tour tasting at Del Dotto while we were there. That sounded like a fun tour, especially since there aren’t too many wine caves you can tour in Napa, so I signed us up. During the tour we got to sample several different Cabernets straight from the barrel. While they were all Cabernets, each of them was different based on where the grapes were from, what barrel they were being stored in, and the vintage. While we were sampling, our guide explained to us that Del Dotto is different than other wineries because they don’t mix everything that’s in their barrels together. Instead they have a wider variety of wines because they love the different tastes that come with slight changes in the wine production. So two Cabernets from Del Dotto that are the same blend and same year might taste completely different because one is aged in American oak barrels while the other is aged in French oak barrels.
    The Wandering Weekenders- 6 Things I Learned While Visiting Napa
  5. Our wine bag was the best investment we ever made- The more wineries that we visit, the more it seems that we come back with more bottles of wine. It’s hard to say no when you’re drinking an amazing glass of Cabernet! Anyways, when I was talking to Carolann about our trip, she recommended that I buy this bag. Basically it’s a portable wine carrier that’s safe for flying! Not only do we not have to worry about trying to pack a ton of wine in our suitcases, which could break, it’s easy to check and even has wheels so it’s easy to navigate with in the airport! If you’re planning a trip to wine country sometime soon and our thinking about buying some wine to take home, definitely consider purchasing this bag!
  6. Despite being high up in the air, you don’t get cold on a hot air balloon- One of the things that I knew that I wanted to do during this trip to Napa was a hot air balloon ride. So even though it was a little rough, we woke up bright and early Saturday morning and headed to Yountville for our ride. We got there before the sun came up, so it was a little chilly when we got there. I wore a jacket because I figured that it’d be even cooler once we were in the air. Well let me tell you, I was completely wrong! Apparently the air above the ground and where we were flying is actually warmer than on the ground, which meant that with my jacket I actually got a little bit warm towards the end of our flight! It definitely wasn’t what I expected!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 6 Things I Learned While Visiting Napa

Overall, we loved every second of our trip to Napa (I mean how could you not be in love surrounded by wine and beautiful scenery?) and it was a little sad going back into the office today. I guess that means that I need to try and figure out when we can make another trip out there!

Other Napa Posts:

2015 Trip:
Life Isn’t Always Diamonds & Rosé…
A California Castle
Napa Tips & Tricks

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All the things I learned during our trip to Napa- including the fact that there are multiple Stags Leap Wineries!

10 Best Destinations For A Girls Trip

For the past few years, my girlfriends and I have tried to take a trip together every year. We were all so close in college, and then afterwards we all moved to different parts of the state and country (and eventually to another country altogether), so a trip together was the perfect way to stay close. Obviously this year we decided on Charleston for our destination, but I thought that it’d be fun to talk about some other great destinations for an amazing girls trip for this Wanderlust Wednesday with Kerri, Kate, and Emily!

The Wandering Weekenders- 10 Best Destinations For A Girls Weekend

  1. Charleston- When we were thinking about a place for this year’s girls trip, Charleston just seemed like the perfect place. Not only is it one of the oldest cities in the United States, but it’s also extremely beautiful and girly with the all of the amazing architecture (read perfect for Instagram!). You also can’t beat the amazing food scene either! Another appeal of Charleston is the fact that it’s a smaller city, so it was easy to navigate and get around, and also relatively inexpensive compared to the other top travel destinations in the US!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 10 Best Destinations For A Girls Weekend
  2. New Orleans- There’s a reason that we chose this for our first girls trip ever! Not only does New Orleans have a great night life (hello Bourbon Street!), but New Orleans is another city that’s rich in history as well. From tours of the Garden District and the French Quarter to spooky ghost tours at night, you can definitely get a feel for the city of New Orleans no matter where you are. And who can pass up some amazing Creole or Cajun food or some delicious beignets from Cafe du Monde? Plus, you can’t beat how relatively inexpensive the city (if you don’t go during one of the top festival weekends) considering how touristy the city is.
    The Wandering Weekenders- 10 Best Destinations For A Girls Weekend
  3. Las Vegas- Oh Las Vegas, you definitely know how to keep a secret, right? Sin City is known all over the world as being a place to let your inhibitions go and have a great time, and who better to do that with than your girlfriends! From the clubs and night life, to the pool parties during the day, to the amazing shopping, and the out of this world food, Las Vegas is the perfect place to go with your girls! Just be prepared for the very high price tag of this very fun city!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 10 Best Destinations For A Girls Weekend
  4. New York City- New York City might be one of the most iconic cities in the United States! From the numerous different neighborhoods that each have a vibe all on their own, to the amazing food and shopping, to all of the cultural experiences like Broadway and the art galleries and experiences, it’s easy to see how NYC would be the perfect destination to go with your best gals! Again, because New York City is known all over the world, it’s definitely going to be a destination with a higher price tag than some of the other cities.
    The Wandering Weekenders- 10 Best Destinations For A Girls Weekend
  5. Napa- I think that all I need to say is wine for a reason why Napa would be a great destination to visit with your besties! Besides some out of this world wine, Napa also has a great food scene with some of the world’s best chefs. Although there’s not too much more to do in Napa besides drink wine, sometimes that’s all you and your girlfriends really need! Just be prepared to pay for everything when you visit Napa, including all of your tastings!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 10 Best Destinations For A Girls Weekend
  6. Austin- Being a Texas girl, you know that I have to throw a great Texas location on this list! Austin is known for being the capital of Texas, but it’s also known for being “weird”, aka not like the rest of the Lone Star State! Austin is definitely anything but traditional Texas, but that also means that it has a lot of other fun things to offer. Austin has its famous 6th Street for some night life, an awesome music scene, a ton of festivals throughout the year, an awesome food scene, and a ton of outdoor activities ranging from hiking and canoeing to all the lake and river activities as well. And since Austin is in Texas, it’s relatively inexpensive as well.
    The Wandering Weekenders- 10 Best Destinations For A Girls Weekend
  7. Boston- If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, then you probably know that I’m a huge history buff, which is one of the reasons that we chose Boston as a destination for one of our girls trips. Besides being one of the integral cities during the American Revolution and having a ton of history, Boston is another city that’s has a great food scene, a great cultural scene with tons of museums, and also a great sports scene as well. Girls can love sports as well, so don’t be afraid to take in a Red Sox or a Patriots game while you’re there! Because of it’s location, Boston is another city that’s a little bit on the expensive side.
    The Wandering Weekenders- 10 Best Destinations For A Girls Weekend
  8. Nashville- Nashville is another fun Southern city, that’s very quickly becoming the bachelorette party capital for the country, and there’s obviously a reason why. Nashville is a lot cheaper to visit than Las Vegas, and it offers some of the same great benefits as Sin City! Broadway offers a great place to party, and with all of the amazing live music, that puts it a step above Vegas in my opinion. Nashville also offers an amazing southern food scene, and if you’re a fan of country music, then Nashville is definitely the place to be!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 10 Best Destinations For A Girls Weekend
  9. Los Angeles- Los Angeles might not be a very traditional place to visit with your girlfriends, but I think that it’d be a ton of fun! LA is the home of Hollywood, so the potential to run into some of the celebrities that you love is way higher than any where else in the country. And who better to fangirl with than some of your best friends! Because of all the celebrities that live in LA, you can also count on some fabulous shopping, some great food, and very high prices!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 10 Best Destinations For A Girls Weekend
  10. Disney World- Again, Disney World is a very untraditional destination for some, but where else can you relive your childhood with some of your girls! I’ve always thought that it would be a ton of fun to get your picture taken with some of your favorite Disney princesses with some of your favorite girlfriends! Disney World is definitely not just for kids or big kids, you can definitely have some adult fun in Epcot and attempt to drink your way around the world!
    The Wandering Weekenders- 10 Best Destinations For A Girls Weekend

And now I’m officially excited and can’t wait to start recapping our awesome trip to Charleston!

Do you have any other destinations that would be perfect for a girls trip?

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The 10 Best Destinations for a girls trip in the United States broken down by location, price, and things to do!

The 10 Best Destinations for a girls trip in the United States broken down by location, price, and things to do!

Napa Tips & Tricks

There were several different things that I looked into when I was planning our trip to Napa.  Below are some of the major questions that I had and what we ended up doing.

How should I get around Napa?

One of my main concerns on our trip was how we were going to get around Napa when we were visiting the different wineries.  We had some friends that had visited the year before us and they had rented a limo to drive them around.  We also knew of other friends that had driven themselves, but they were lucky and had a pregnant friend that drove them around.

I looked into renting a limo or hiring a driver drive our car to the different wineries, but they all were pretty expensive (about $50-$100 an hour it seemed like).  So the hubby and I ended up driving ourselves to the different wineries, and that worked well for us.  We didn’t cram too many tastings into each day, and the hubby (who is usually the driver on our road trips) also shared tastings with me and didn’t finish all of the wine that he tried.  All of this was to make sure that we were staying safe driving ourselves around.

Do I need reservations for tastings?

Certain wineries require reservations and others don’t.  Like I’ve said before I’m a major planner, so even if we were just doing a tasting and not a tour, but the winery had the option to set up a reservation for the tasting I booked it.  That way it was easier for me to plan where we were going.

If you’re not a planner, you can definitely get into any winery at any time for a tasting, but if you would like to do an actual tour, I would make a reservation.  I would recommend doing some research on what wineries you would want to visit and then decide if you would like to do a tour.

Do I need to stay in Napa?

If you’re planning on driving yourself, you definitely don’t need to stay in Napa.  The Napa Valley is made of several small cities that are very close together, and they’re all easy to get to.  We stayed in American Canyon which is farther south than Napa, which is only 10-15 minutes away by car.  But the 10-15 minute drive ended up saving us about $100/night for our hotel.  Definitely worth it in my book.

Should I bring anything with me to my tastings?

One of the smartest things that the hubby and I did before we started our 2 day tour of Napa was to run by the Wal-Mart the night before our trip and buy a cheap styrofoam cooler, a 24 pack of water, and some snacks.  We filled the cooler with ice from the hotel and that kept water bottles cold for us while we were driving around the Napa Valley.  This way we able to stay hydrated in between tastings, and we were also able to munch on snacks as well.  That’s probably the biggest recommendation that I can make, bring water and snacks with you, because after a day of drinking wine, you’ll be happy that you have it.

What wineries should I visit?

I think that the wineries that you decide to visit ultimately depend on what type of wines you like and the type of experience that you want to have.  We visited some of the bigger wineries in the area, and we didn’t get to stop into some of the more mom and pop type of wineries.  The reason that we chose the bigger wineries was because we had never been and I wanted us to have a “typical” Napa experience.  You might not want the same experience as us, so I would definitely recommend doing research and reading recommendations for the type of wineries that you’d like to visit.

I hope this helps a little with your planning for your trip to Napa!  My biggest recommendation is to plan, plan, plan, and you’ll have the best experience!

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