Napa: A Foodies, Writers, and Winers Paradise

This September marked our lucky number 7th anniversary! Lucky for us, September is a gorgeous time of year to visit Napa Valley. With temps still in the 100’s in Phoenix, its usually around 80’s there. It’s also harvest time! Gorgeous landscape, great weather, fabulous food, history, art, and oh yea, WINE!, make Napa a great get away. This year we went to Napa once again to drink until our teeth were purple, eat until we burst, and romance until we were sick of looking at each other. Which hasn’t happened yet, fortunately!! 🙂  Highly, highly recommend planning a vacation of your own to wine/God’s country.


newton~Hilltop at Cain, foggy morning. The tree in the middle is the Newton Vineyard wine tree on the labels.

A gorgeous, foggy morning.

 cain viewIMG_0475

About a 20 minute drive up windey Spring Mountain Road, is Cain Winery. Reservations required, they made lovely, robust wines, Cain 5, Concept, Cab, and NV11. We were super fortunate enough to get a vineyard tour with the winemaker himself. He gave us a look inside the wine world not often seen. Educational, fun, and enlightening. We learned a little “b.s” too 😀

Wine tasting with Chris Howell, Cain’s Winemaker.
~Welcome gift

Chateau Montelena


One of my new favorite wineries is Chateau Montelena! Awesome, castle style building, mixed with a tranquil Zen/Japanese inspired landscape, its absolutely gorgeous. There’s a huge pond home to giant crawfish, white storks, swans, and probably a Loch Ness too. The gazebos are accessible by a zig-zag bridge, which is believed to keep evil spirits away. You also need a wine club membership, which kept us away.

There’s a really great history of this place, literally putting Napa on the wine map. In the 70’s there was a wine competition in France, the US winning in two categories, really pissing off the French. They made a movie about it. I see why they won, we loved every wine we tasted!


We had a fun tasting and tour! I want this kitchen!!


These folks know how to have a good time!!! They make hilarious music videos, know how to throw a party, and aim to “Wow!” We were blessed enough to get to stay overnight in one of their rooms. Breathtaking. They left a bottle of Chardonnay and even brought us a fancy breakfast and french press the next morning! We felt like royalty!!

IMG_0563jordjordan brkft

Tasting and tour the next day. Started with Chardonnay paired with a hamachi salad 😛

Then tried some 2006 Cabernet…

chard tastg2006

Then compared 2008, and 2011 Cabernets in a secret tasting room!


Some yummy cheeses and tidbits were offered to accompany the wines.

First photo, from top, clockwise. Quince paste, sour dough and nut bread, black truffle triple creme Brie, goat cheese from Ewe Nique Central Coast Creamery located in Paso Robles, CA, San Joaquin Gold Cheddar from Fiscalini Cheese Co, Jordans Estate Olive Oil and garden chive.

Next photo is a Braised Oxtail Salad with Tomato and shallot confiture. Paired with the ’11. Amazeballs, as Tom says.


…Honorable mentions…

Cliff Lede. Rock Inspired Wine. They get me. Excellent wines


Hess. Rich history, great wine, and INCREDIBLE gallery. This is a painting. #hesscollection
A surreal installation.

Now for the Grub a Dub..

Rutherford Grille.

The Rutherford Grill, a Hillstone restaurant, is always a good time PLUS I wanted me some ribs baby! Fall-off-the-dang-bone, smokey bbq, with slaw n fries! Yummo!

Mmm, Ribs.
rg enchilada
Tri Tip, Butternut Squash Enchilada, Fresh Cucumber Salad. That Enchilada is so divine!

Gotts Roadside

Gotts Roadside aka Taylors Refresher is another place we like to go. Looks like an old timey diner, but has a very modern, sophisticated menu. Fresh ahi tacos, Green Chili Burgers, Fried-Green Tomato BLT’s, Zucchini Fries, shakes, drool drool drool. There’s two of these in Napa, one downtown and one along Main Street. Be patient, there’s always a line.  But it takes me a while to decide so it works out.



Bravas Bar De Tapas 


Located in Healdsberg, Bravas has a huge menu filled with little plates called Tapas. WE LOOVE TAPAS! We like sharing and trying as much as possible so its perfect for us! We tried a Seafood Pallea with clams, mussles, calamaris, and shrimps. Shared some Bocadillos, or Little Sandwiches, Duck Meatball Sliders and Pork Cheek Sliders, my favorite. We also snacked on some Bacon-Wrapped Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates with Marcona Almonds. I’d seriously make a trip just to go to Bravas again! Fingers crossed they open one in the Valley!

PS, Stark Reality Restaurants is the parent co that owns this place as well as another spot called Willies. If in the area you MUST MUST go to one of these places. Willis wine bar was one of our favorites as far as flavor, uniqueness, and pure joy goes! But that was another trip.


Thufferin’ Thuckatath! This Theafood Paella kiths ath! Only avail on Thaturdays.
Pork Cheek Sliders, Salsa Verde, Pequillo Pepper. Hypnotically good!
Duck Meatballs@Bravas. Tomato sofrito, carmelized onions and yummy olive puree.

Dry Creek Market Simply fabulous Dawling! This is a historical market with very modern tastes. This busy biz has unique gifts, cards, crafts, an espresso bar, and full blown deli in about 800 square feet. It’s always jammin so space is tight but the sandwiches are killer!! I had a curried egg salad sammy the last trip out. This time we shared a rueben with local kraut and chips!


Morimoto’s Napa is another culinary experience. Iron Chef Morimoto offers his genius to the public and it’s just heaven. Fresh, delicate seafood, creative reinventions, and exclusive palette pleasers, all expertly executed.

Oysters, of course! Each has its own accoutrement.


This carpaccio was to die for. Wagyu beef, yuzu soy, sesame oil, and micro cilantro. Best. Carpaccio. Ever.
This is the dessert of the friggen year. I’ll come back to it in a sec…

cake cake2

We got a bit caught up in the moment and FORGOT to snap our favorite part of the dinner. The Ishi Yaki Buri Bop . It’s Mori’s take on the traditional Korean Bibimbap. It had hamachi, spinach, carrot, rice, and an egg which all cooked together on the table, in a searing 500 degree clay pot! So so good! But sawy, no photo!

Then we indulged in a magical dessert, which is also famous from TV, the Melting Chocolate Sphere. This sphere-shaped dessert comes out, they pour liqueur over it, light it on fire, melting the sphere down to reveal this lovely homemade marshmellow fluff stupidity surrounded by cookies topped with chocolate ganache-y deliciousness. AHHH! AWESOME!!!

Super special Shout Out and THANK YOU to Cain and Jordan Wines!!! Thank you for going out of your way to make out Anniversary memorable and your amazing hospitality. 

And thank you! if you made it all the way through this jam packed post! We obviously did a lot and had a lot to share.


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