There are so many wine areas in Napa, it’s hard to believe there are any more to be discovered. Recently we tasted our way through several wineries in the Coombsville AVA, the newest of Napa’s sub-appellations. Located just east of downtown Napa, it’s a wonderful destination to enjoy beautiful scenery, meet friendly people and find great wine. And by including downtown Napa, too, we had plenty of choices for restaurants and hotels.
Only an hour from San Francisco, this part of the Napa Valley is quick, easy and a great way to savor time away from the daily grind.
Stay: Downtown Napa is fairly compact. Park your car; check in at one of the well-situated hotels and get out and explore. The Napa River snakes its way through town and if you plan ahead, you can enjoy the scene from a number of properties.
Next to the water, the River Terrace Inn is a casual place to stay. With its soothing colors, friendly service and convenient location, it’s an easy choice – especially when your room has a patio with your own private view of the river.
The Napa River Inn, located in the historic Napa Mill, occupies a prime spot on the River Walk. In the main house, this boutique hotel offers comfortable rooms in a grand style reminiscent of the 1800s. Some include canopied beds and fireplaces, and all have modern amenities. A full breakfast is delivered to your room each morning from Sweetie Pies bakery.
For more contemporary accommodations, choose The Westin Verasa overlooking the river. Most rooms at the resort have kitchenettes, spacious bathrooms and Heavenly Beds® (Westin branded) which helps assure a dreamy sleep.
Dine: Brunch in wine country is the perfect way to fortify yourself before heading out for a day of tasting, so we tried Tarla’s in Napa’s burgeoning west end. A combination of Greek and Turkish influences, the food is creative and the Napa-influenced interior is fun and informal. We started with Istanbul-style stuffed mussels – a succulent mouthful of rice, currants and pine nuts. Next up was the crab sandwich on ciabiatta – stuffed with fresh crab, bacon and avocado and served with yummy Greek fries and spicy mayo. Don’t miss side orders of potato cakes and warm potato buns that are to die for. Buttery, flakey baklava was the indulgent finale to a terrific meal.
The Oxbow Market has a good assortment of places to eat, and we opted for the Kitchen Door. The interior of the restaurant is open and airy – you feel like you’re in a family kitchen. The menu has an international flair so we tried the Armenian lahmajune. Made with spiced ground lamb and salad served on a thin piece of dough, you simply fold it and eat. The Korean short ribs are cooked with a soya glaze and come over bacon fried rice. The candy cap mushroom bread pudding for dessert is a must have.
The Wine Train is an easy way to experience the valley’s good life as you travel to St. Helena and back to Napa. You’ll taste interesting wines and local cuisine in beautifully restored vintage rail cars.
In the lobby of Westin Verasa, find BANK Café & Bar, Ken Frank’s casual restaurant. It’s a place to enjoy delicious food all day long.
OTHER ESSENTIALS: Coombsville Vintners & Growers; Downtown Napa; Visiting Napa Valley
PATTY BURNESS can be found on Twitter at @pattygb