Instead of adding a recipe I'm giving more poignant advice in the form of Napa area winery and restaurant recommendations. I love getting advice from friends instead of going in blind, so this priceless, right? If you're planning a trip, start jotting these down (and if you aren't planning one, start doing it!):
Bottega, Yountville - An obvious choice with a great wait staff and cozy patio to sip wine while you're waiting for your table (or while you're stalking Top Chef Masters Michael Chiarello - yes, I did - while he makes his rounds among the guests). Get the Polenta and the Pneu Pinot Noir. Amazing. Oh, and I met this lovely wine blogger on the patio - check her out!
Brix, Napa - A nice spot on Hwy 29 for a date at night or a patio lunch overlooking their gorgeous gardens. The oysters were amazing with a glass of Seghesio Arneis.
Carpe Diem Wine Bar, Downtown Napa - Great newly-opened family run spot with a bunch of locals behind the bar. We loved the smiles and recommendation of the "Taken" Cabernet Sauvignon by Josh Phelps.
The French Laundry, Yountville - Well, duh. It's only one of the biggest foodie mecca's in the States. I was on a budget and couldn't bring myself to throw down the $250 prix fixe for the 9-course tasting menu, but mark my words: I WILL SOMEDAY.
Ad Hoc, Yountville - Thomas Keller's spot with simple, family style food that is winning awards all over town. The menu changes daily and you get what they want to cook in a place that feels like home. We didn't get here (we tried our hardest - make reservations, people!) but EVERYONE told me to go.
Cakebread Cellars, Rutherford - Gorgeous grounds full of sunflowers and herb gardens topped off with a beautiful facility with a state of the art kitchen! We took an appetizer cooking class with Chef Thomas and everything from the grilled peaches wrapped in prociutto to grilled lamb skewers with mint pesto to mini crab cakes was delicious. Chef Tom is the best!
Alpha + Omega, Rutherford - Really beautifully designed tasting room and separate dining room for events. We got a bottle of the '07 Chardonnay and sat on the patio in oversized outdoor couches overlooking their fountain. Bliss.
Ehlers Estate, St. Helena - Amazing wines and beautiful old farmhouse tasting room. Plus it's the only non-profit winery I've ever heard of. 100% of the proceeds go to the Leducq Foundation to fund international cardiovascular research. The Ehler's Merlot and 1886 Cabernet Sauvignon are incredible.
Miner Family Vineyards, Oakville - Lovely estate on the hillside with views of the valley from chairs on their porch. We loved the Miner '06 Oracle.
Mumm, Napa - Fun place for yummy bubbles on their misted patio - but make a reservation to reserve a spot. The Devaux Ranch was delicious and they had multiple champagne flights to choose from if you wanted to try a bunch.
Luna Vineyards, Napa - Also off the Silverado Trail, Luna's tasting room is luxurious and inviting. We had the '06 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon on the porch and chatted with their darling events director.
Girard Winery, Yountville - Lastly I have to add Girard right at the edge of Yountville. Their tasting room is open till 8pm (score!) so it's a great way to end a long day of tasting. The '06 Mixed Blacks is a favorite and I loved the crisp Sauvignon Blanc.
Other notable local wines to try if you're in the area:
Renteria Pinot Noir
Patz & Hall Pinot Noir
It was a great trip with amazing friends and a lot of California wine. You just can't believe how magical wine country is until you're there! Here are a few shots from the trip... doesn't get much better than this!