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Napa Valley Getaway

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Brody and I finally both had a few days off this past month and, because our  schedules have been so hectic and Brody’s been dealing with a lot of stress, I decided to book us a surprise getaway to Napa! We’ve talked about visiting wine country together since we first started dating. The last time Brody was there was with an ex-girlfriend. They did a super fancy wine tour complete with a private chef and a sommelier who flew into town especially for them. Needless to say, I couldn’t quite afford the same extravagance, but I had saved up enough to still arrange something cozy and romantic.

After a lot of research, I decided on Calistoga Ranch as our hotel for the trip. They were running a special on their Oak Creek Spa Suites (it was still $$$ but I wanted to spoil him!), so I booked us into one of those for two nights. I made a dinner reservation at Press in St. Helena for our second night in town and scheduled us on a sunrise hot air balloon tour of the valley. I figured we could play the rest by ear and didn’t want to overbook us in case Brody had any input once he found out where we were going!

The morning we were supposed to leave came and I had kept our destination a secret for weeks. Brody guessed it on the way to the airport after I’d given him the clues that “we could technically drive there in a day” and “we’ve talked about going there since we first started dating.” We hopped a flight to San Francisco (but for anyone else planning to go from LA, there are multiple flights right into Sonoma County Airport (STS), which is so SO soo much more convenient.. I just didn’t know about it at the time!), grabbed our rental car and hit the road. We stopped along the way to buy a new camera (we chose the Sony Alpha A5000) and grab some lunch in Burlingame at The Plant Cafe Organic (we both opted for the Cobb Salad).

The drive to Napa was about 2 1/2 hours from SFO. Brody still had no idea where we were staying and was surprised when we passed by Meadowood, where he’d previously visited. The drive through Napa was so incredibly beautiful surrounded by all the mountains and lush greenery of the vineyards. One thing I was surprised by was how close each vineyard is to the next — they’re all essentially spread out over one massive field and you can walk between them easily.

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We reached the resort and were greeted with glasses of Calistoga Ranch chardonnay and the most lovely receptionist I’ve ever experienced at a hotel, a young man whose name Brody and I said about 100 times throughout our stay and right this moment can’t friggin’ remember, agh!!). We were driven to our private cabin — the main facilities of the resort, including reception and the pool, are at the base of the resort and all cabins are built up a hillside in the woods — where we were met by a platter of cheeses and a bottle of cabernet sauvignon. So far, I really like Napa!!

By the time we were all settled, it was nearing dinner time. We decided to enjoy a meal at the resort restaurant, which is only open to hotel guests and overlooks the private lake on the property. Our waiter was incredibly knowledgable about wines and each dish on the prix fixe menu. Brody and I agreed to be a little adventurous with our eating on this trip; we generally eat vegetarian, but most of the menus in Napa were meat heavy so we figured YOLO! We enjoyed duck, pea soup and a fancy bottle of cabernet at our table by the roaring fire listening to the chirps and croaks of crickets and frogs.

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The next morning we were supposed to be up at 4:30 a.m. for our hot air balloon ride. This is another thing I wish someone would’ve advised me on. The weather in Napa Valley is actually not very conducive to flying hot air balloons normally, so the best thing you can do is plan a trip for a few days in Napa and try each morning to get on a flight (hopefully one day will be clear enough to go!).  We only had one full morning there, so our odds weren’t very good we’d have a flying day, and we didn’t. They offered to take us out over some farmland an hour away, but that didn’t sound nearly as appealing to us, so we crawled back into bed and got a little more sleep.

I ordered breakfast to the room around 9, which came complete in a picnic basket with a little vase of delicious smelling rosemary to decorate the table. Calistoga Ranch consists of 157 acres with miles of hiking trails, so after breakfast we decided to explore a bit. We took a trail that led us to a hilly meadow with views looking over the ranch and down into the valley. It was picturesque! After our brief hike, we went down for a midday cocktail by the pool, which was nearly as lovely as the trails had been.

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Rather than bouncing around between wineries all day, we decided on a late lunch reservation at Auberge du Soleil, a sister resort about 15 minutes away, where we could sample a bunch of Napa wines in one place. Auberge du Soleil has the only restaurant in Napa with a view across the entire valley and I’d been interested in seeing what we were missing because it was sold out by the time I booked our trip. Well, it certainly didn’t disappoint. We were given a table on the terrace (make sure you request this!) in a private corner and had a team of two servers who recommended we try a tasting of eight different red wines (we let them select their favorites). I am quite dedicated to pinot noir, so it didn’t come as a surprise that the pinot was my favorite of the day, but each of them was wonderful, especially paired with the asparagus soup, market salad, wild mushroom gnocchi, and cardamom poundcake with rhubarb and lemon meringue! Our lunch lasted nearly three hours as we enjoyed learning from our servers about the current drought in Napa, their favorite and rival restaurants, and histories of the local vineyards.

We took a taxi back to the ranch (during the ride we came across two fawns and their mom casually crossing the road!) and hopped in our private jacuzzi overlooking the creek with yet another bottle of cabernet — this is wine country, after all! After freshening up and changing, it was already time for our dinner reservation at Press. Yes, we basically went to Napa to eat and drink non-stop, but that’s my kind of vacation!!

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Now, this is something I heard a lot of complaints about on my Instagram… We were told by our hotel concierge that the best thing to order at Press was something not listed on the menu: the Bacon Sampler. Both Brody and I very rarely eat red meat, both for health reasons and because we are sensitive to the suffering and lives of animals. However, like I said before, we’d decided to be adventurous on this trip and who were we not to follow the recommendations of the Calistoga Ranch concierge? So, upon further recommendation by our waiter, we ordered the sampler. OH. MY. GOODNESS. Admittedly, I haven’t been able to eat another piece of bacon since because of how rich and heavy that sampler was, but it was incredibly, insanely delicious, with seven flavors/cuts from different towns across the U.S. One was entirely coated in brown sugar and dijon mustard!

The restaurant on the whole, was perfect, and again, our server was very helpful and charming. The best part was that, because Napa is such a small community, he actually knew the driver who’d dropped us off at the restaurant and called her to come pick us up once we paid the check without us even asking!

The following morning we enjoyed breakfast in bed before packing up and heading to Sonoma County so we could make it home for a Nylon Magazine photo shoot Brody had scheduled. It was a whirlwind trip, but the perfect romantic, relaxing getaway!

SHOP:

Lace Jumpsuit

Staple Nude Booties

Vegan Leather Jacket

THE Skinny Jeans

Colorblock Bikini

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28 comments

  • Now I want to go to Napa and I want bacon !

  • Hi! Love that you guys loved Calistoga/St. Helena.. But you should have opted for the hot air ballon ride on the farm! It’s beautiful where they take you! It’s in Hidden Valley Lake/Middletown area. Georgeous mountains, vineyards, fields, etc. you’ll have to try it out next time!! Here in Lake County there’s BEAUTIFUL vineyards/wineries! Cheers thank you for all of your tips!

  • I look forward to every single one of your blog posts and this definitely didn’t disappoint. I’ve always wanted to go to Napa but I haven’t gotten around to actually looking into making a trip..until now, that is! Thank you for all the insight 🙂 🙂

  • That sounds amazing! My husband and I went on a wine tasting tour in Niagara Falls a couple weeks ago. It was so fun! I would love to go to Napa 🙂

  • The hot air balloon tour sounds AMAZING. I’ve always wanted to do a vineyard tour.
    Glad you had fun (and great photos)!

    xx http://gymbagsandjetlags.com

  • Wow, it looks so amazing there! I love those hot air balloons
    xo
    http://www.laurajaneatelier.com

  • I am going to Napa in September — this was really helpful for some good ideas of where to go. Thanks for the tips! 🙂

  • Hi kaitlynn thanks for sharing what sounds like a perfect romantic getaway! Sounds like you guys had some well deserved R&R, and Brody’s a lucky guy to have such a thoughtful (and absolutely stunning) girlfriend put so much thought into planning this. You mentioned he had an ex do this for him before, but with the private chef, etc. money doesn’t but a great holiday. The difference between a nice getaway and out of this world never forget is WHO you are with and the thought that went to it. I’m sure being there with you is all that mattered, and that you put so much thought into this. He’s a crazy-lucky guy! We’re I live in toronto canada, we have something similar called Niagara-on-the-Lake. If you’re ever here, it’s part of the Niagara Region close to the falls and they have some great wineries were you could do bike tours, explore the vineyards and have soon delicious wine and ice wine tasting too .

    Kristina xo

  • Wow! Talk about a dream vacation. Thanks for sharing with us! Insanely jealous of those views and all your meals. I’m right there with you…vacation for me is all about eating and drinking! 🙂 XO Sam

  • You guys are the cutest!!! Sounds like a wonderful trip 🙂 my husband and I are heading to that area for our 1 year wedding anniversary the end of this month, I can’t wait!

  • This looks so serene, I love it! Definitely putting this on my list of places to visit.

    Love,
    https://lonelypineapple.wordpress.com/

  • I was directed to your blog by a post on IG. The description and content of your blog appealed to me, so I decided to explore your site. After reading one post, I became so distracted by the grammatical errors in your writing that I probably won’t continue to visit this site in the future. I’m not relaying this information to be cruel or overly critical. I just thought you should be aware that this detracts from your credibility as a professional blogger.

    • Could you please point out what specifically you’re referring to so I can fix the errors? I’ve never heard this before, so I’m interested to understand what you are having trouble with.

      • Just to be clear, I recognize that we are all human and prone to error. After re-reading your article, I feel my comment may have been a little harsh, but some examples are as follows: When referring to the receptionist whose name you couldn’t remember, you used “who’s” rather than “whose.” You ended at least one sentence with a preposition (admittedly this is difficult not to do and when used properly can make writing sound stuffy). When you are describing the fact that you haven’t been able to eat bacon since your experience with the sampler, the comma before the word “because” should be eliminated. Now it appears that the most blaring error, and incidentally the inspiration for my comment, has been corrected. The word “so” in the last paragraph originally appeared as “some.” In truth, I could look past the other minor errors, but that was the one that annoyed me. It gave the impression that you were hurried and didn’t proof your writing. After reading this comment, I expect that you will delete this thread. As a matter of fact, I would recommend that you do this. I’m glad you responded back in the thoughtful way you did. Not only did it give me the opportunity to recognize that I may have been a bit harsh, but it gained you a faithful reader. Good luck!

        • Ok, thanks! I must admit I’ve always needed another set of eyes to proofread my writing for minor errors (but I don’t have that luxury these days)! I also want to say, that there are times I actually intentionally write sentences incorrectly because they sound more casual/relatable/fun (along the lines of what you were saying about ending a sentence with a preposition)! I have a blogger friend who writes entirely in sentence fragments (on purpose) because that’s the voice she wanted her readers to experience her blog through. So sometimes it’s a style thing as well… but I have no excuse for the who’s/whose.

          • You know I do not think you need an excuse, the last time I looked this was your blog and you can post how, when and what the heck you like. I mean really, I have been reading blogs for many years and never once have i ever posted anything relating to a nasty comment another person wrote, why would i? not my business, but for once I sit here in shock that a person can actually sit down and point out an error on a post.. to quote ” i could look past the other minor errors” !!! tell me you are not serious? as we say in Ireland I think you need to see a quack (Doctor) !!!! ps i may have made a few mistakes in my comment, excuse me!! I did leave a few CAPS out but i just could not be bothered to correct!xxx

  • Looks amazing, really does:) WOW re above comment, why would any person in their right mind take the time to post such a silly comment on a blog!!!! it screams of green eyed monster!! sorry I would never usually post anything like this but I hate such rudeness and for someone to actually take the time to post that is pathetic!!!!!! Anyway looks like a beautiful place and very thoughtful of you:)xxx Hugs from Ireland!!

  • I love Napa! Sounds like you had a very special time.
    I’m not certain what grammatical errors the other reader is referring to, but there is a minor spelling error in the very last paragraph- “…heading to Sonoma County some we could…” I think you may have meant “so” instead of “some”!
    Please keep up the lovely blog. I really enjoy it.

  • ahhhh I just got back from a college reunion in napa with 5 girls…. So serene although I love Michael chiarellos bottega and bistro jeanty restaurants in napa i def want to try these ! Drove through st Helena so beautiful and charming!

  • Being from Marin county myself (you drove through it to get to Napa!) you definitely chose the best restaurants to eat at. I would recommend visiting Marin if you have spare time in the future because there is so much beauty, great restaurants like Guaymas in Tiburon, Buckeye steakhouse in Mill Valley Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael all with great service and kind and genuine people. I like your writing style it’s just so easy going and to the point. PS I go to Malibu all the time! enjoy reading WW and would you be able to recommend some hiking trails in LA that you enjoy?

    • Thanks for the tips! Yes! There is a trail up Corral Canyon that is really beautiful and is one of my favorites in Malibu. I don’t hike in LA ever since I live out here so I can’t really recommend any in town aside from Runyon, which all my friends (and everyone else in the world) do.

  • sounds like such a lovely getaway!! i remember i did a holiday with my ex and he was extremely wealthy so it was the best of the best kinda holiday. I did the same holiday with my now husband where we stayed in much more modest hotels and ate at much more modest restaurants. I can reassure you it is who are you with that matters – not so much what you are doing or where you are staying. i’m sure your boyfriend felt the same way. I can’t wait to get to napa one day 🙂 also people who comment on your spelling – really… get a life!!! i love your blog 🙂

    • This is nice to hear! I completely agree that it’s totally the magic of the landscape and the people you’re with that make Napa so romantic and beautiful!

  • Kaitlynn, the trip you took looks absolutely wonderful.. and I am seriously graving a red wine right now! Also, your posts always make me feel s happy. Thank you for that!

  • Hey Kaitlynn!
    I have a few questions and I’m hoping you can help me out. My boyfriend and I are from Toronto and we’ve never been to California, so we are trying to plan a trip in the LA area and anywhere in proximity for this August! I was wondering if you could give me any tips or advice about where to stay, what to see and where to go! I would greatly appreciate it since you always seem to find the best spots!
    Thank you so much!!

  • My boyfriend and I LOVE Napa, we went on a balloon ride last month over Pope Valley and it is a MUST for your next trip. Sorry weather wouldn’t permit you to enjoy it while you were there!

  • I know what you mean about how close the different vineyards are – I always call it “An adult version of Trick or Treat”! LOL

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