In the minds of may Napa wine country and California wine country are one and the same. It is the place where you find California's most famous wineries. Robert Mondavi, Beaulieu Vineyards, Stag's Leap, Chateau Montelena; many people have enjoyed these wines for years, and they are recognized throughout the world.
And yet, when people visit this legendary place they are surprised to see how small it is. It is only about 30 miles long, from Napa through the charming towns of Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena and all the way to Calistoga; and a mere five miles or so wide. In this small area there are hundreds of wineries, famous and not so much, who treasure the opportunity to put the "Napa Valley" tag on their bottle labels.
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As small as the valley is, it is paradise to a visitor. Along with the many wineries, some absolutely spectacular; here you will find some of the best restaurants in the country, and some of the most beautiful hotels.
The Culinary Institute of America has a branch in St. Helena, where you can visit the gardens full of herbs, buy cookware, and have a meal prepared by the chefs in training.
But not everything is on the grand scale. There are also charming hotels, and little known eateries that serve wonderful food. You could say there is something for everyone. Each little town along the way has its own personality.
If possible, visit on weekdays. Weekends, especially in Spring and Summer, can be crowded. Also, try to get an early start, as wineries and wine tasting rooms are packed in the afternoons.
In the city of Napa you can visit COPIA, the American Center for Wine, Food, and Art. Here you can stroll through the gardens, take a wine or food class, and visit the galleries.
There are many other activities besides drinking great wine and eating great food. You can camp at Bothe Napa Valley State Park, take a mud bath in Calistoga, stop for a picnic, rent a bike and pedal through the valley, ride the Napa Valley wine train (which does include wine and food!).
The Napa Wine Country is a spectacular place, but with so many "nooks and crannies", that you can make it your own in no time.
You Will Love Your Visit To The Napa Wine Country!