Napa Valley, in the Bay Area in California, is the main wine growing region of the United States and one of the major wine regions of the world. It is also known for its gourmet restaurants, cafes, and spa-treatment centers.
Napa Valley, a world famous wine area, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in California. More than three million visitors come each year, often overcrowding the roadways on summer weekends. Peak times are the summer months and the harvest "crush" during September and October. Napa Valley is home to more than four hundred wineries. With wine as a focus, great dining naturally emerged to complement it. The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena supplies a steady stream of well-trained chefs, supplementing the already prestigious chefs drawn by Napa Valley's reputation and locale.
The Napa Valley enjoys a Mediterranean climate. Summer is marked by warm to hot, sunny days, cool nights, and little to no rain. Winter is mild, and is characterized by occasional rain interspersed with bright, sunny days, and occasional frosts. Snow is very uncommon, however.
The nearest international airports are in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, and Sacramento. San Francisco is the largest airport of the group presented. Here, a traveler arriving at San Francisco Airport can easily rent a car or reserve a limo to take them to Napa Valley.The trip is about an hour and a half long over the Golden Gate Bridge to scenic Route 37.
From San Francisco:
Use Highway 29 or Silverado Trail to see the valley. They run north-south along the valley.
The thing about wine, of course, is that it has a synergy with food; they enhance each other. Accordingly, food is elevated here. There are many excellent chefs in this area and many great dining facilities. One most famous place that must be mentioned is 'French Laundry' in Yountville. It is very famous, very expensive and very hard to get a reservation. Reservations open two months in advance and you must be right on top of it. Try if you must, but there are many other delicious options.
Most wineries offer tastings and/or tours of their products. The form this takes varies greatly. The largest, most well known wineries such as Mondavi and Beringer are open daily with large hosting facilities, guided tours of the operation and reserve rooms for tasting select, more expensive wines. The many smaller wineries may offer tastings only by appointment, but your tour or tasting may be conducted by the owner. Most vineyards charge a small fee for the tastings, especially at the more popular vineyards, perhaps $5-$10. Winery tours are generally very interesting and informative. Reserve room tastings provide an opportunity to sample expensive wines without having to spend a larger amount for a bottle. Sometimes the tasting fee can be applied to the cost of a bottle purchased.
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