48 Hours in Napa Valley

48 Hours in Napa Valley: A quick trip out to wine country!

48 Hours in Napa Valley

My wife and I were supposed to get engaged in Napa Valley, CA.  You see, some of my good friends from Baton Rouge had moved out to Napa, and Laura and I were talking about going out there on vacation.  As it turned out, my friends got pregnant, and their due date was the very weekend that we had been talking about.  Needless to say, we didn’t make the trip back in 2010.  (I ended up popping the question to Laura back in Atlanta…but more on that some other time!)

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to visit Napa as part of Panasonic’s international launch of their new Countertop Induction Oven.  This oven is pretty darned nifty, but we’ll come back to the food in a bit.  First, Napa.  And of course wine!

48 Hours in Napa ValleyI had never been out to Napa Valley, so I was quite excited to make the trip.  I actually met my sister out there, so it was nice to see a familiar face out on the other side of the country.  (Courtney lives in Nashville, so I only get to see her a couple of times a year…and this time, we both left our respective kids at home!)  We didn’t have much time for researching Napa before the trip, so we ended up planning on the fly.  Normally, I’m a serious planner, but I gotta admit that it was kinda fun just planning as we went.

48 Hours in Napa Valley

The first thing we learned about visiting vineyards in and around Napa Valley was the need for reservations.  We had no clue!  Needless to say, we didn’t have reservations.  So we both sat there on our laptops over breakfast on the first morning reading about vineyards that didn’t require reservations.  We also needed vineyards near the southern end of Napa Valley as we planned to Uber it from our hotel to the vineyards and back.  (Uber is a great way to get between wineries if you are planning on drinking!)

48 Hours in Napa ValleyWe stayed at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, CA, and I can only say amazing things about this property!  The accommodations were incredible, and we were greeted with a bottle of the resort’s signature wine waiting for us in our rooms.  After a 6-hour cross-country flight and another 1.5 hour drive up from the San Francisco airport, that bottle of wine was much appreciated!  We both ordered room service for dinner as well as breakfast, and the food was top-notch.  Seriously!

That first afternoon of our 48 Hours in Napa Valley, we joined the Panasonic team for a trip up the Valley to the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena.  (The CIA is located ~30 minutes north from the actual town of Napa.  If you get the chance, I highly recommend visiting both CIA as well as the town of St. Helena itself.  There are 2 restaurants and a bakery/cafe on site, but definitely make reservations well in advance of your trip.  The advance planning is worth it, though, and you won’t be disappointed!)

48 Hours in Napa ValleyLater that afternoon, Courtney and I decided to check out the tasting room on site at the Meritage Resort.  That’s right…the resort were we stayed had it’s own tasting room.  Trinitas Cellars’ tasting room is located in a cave beneath their 7 acres of vineyards.  (And remember that bottle of wine in our room that I mentioned earlier?  Yup, that was from Trinitas.  And it was excellent!)

48 Hours in Napa ValleyThe next day, we had the morning and early afternoon free before we were scheduled to meet up with the Panasonic team to learn more about the Countertop Induction Oven.  So Courtney called us an Uber and we headed over to Domaine Chandon.

My sister really wanted to taste sparkling wines, and I happily went along with this plan.  We arrived right when the tastings began, and that was clearly a good plan as the tasting room was noticeably more crowded when we left an hour later.  I may or may not have signed up for the Chandon’s sparkling wine club while I was there.  And I may or may not have sent us a case of sparkling wine back home.  What?  It’s the holidays, and sparkling wine makes great hostess gifts!

48 Hours in Napa ValleyAfter wrapping up at Chandon, we had a couple of more hours left so we decided to grab an Uber and head over to Darioush.  Founded by Darioush Khaledi, this vineyard brings to life the combination of Darioush’s knowledge of wine (which he learned growing up in Iran) with the unique terrain of the Napa Valley region.  Courtney and I sampled several of their wines, and we quite enjoyed ourselves there.  Featuring grand Persian architecture, this winery is definitely worth a visit!  We dropped by early afternoon on a Thursday, and it wasn’t hard to get a seat at the bar for a tasting.

And last but not least, the Countertop Induction Oven!  This new appliance from Panasonic was the entire reason we were out there, and I must say that this is a really unique appliance.  Designed for the home kitchen, this  oven uses both induction and infrared technology.  (In case you’re not familiar with induction style cooking, this method uses magnetic resistance to heat cookware.  It can increase temperature much faster than traditional gas or electric style cooking.)

48 Hours in Napa Valley Panasonic’s Countertop Induction Oven (the CIO) comes with a dishwasher-safe grill pan, so no special bakeware is needed.  Thanks to the induction technology, the CIO can be used to cook dinner for 4 people in less than 30 minutes.  Seriously!  I saw it happen!  The grill pan is designed to reach higher temperatures in the center of the pan.  As such, you can place meat in the center of the pan and veggies around the outside…and everything is done in the same amount of time.  How cool is that?

You may have noticed that I mentioned grill pan.  The CIO includes a number of pre-programmed cooking styles, including Grill.  Yes, you can actually achieve perfect grill marks indoors.  Right on your countertop!  (That is particularly attractive to me as my grill is covered by snow for a good chunk of the year…and you guys know how much I love to grill!)

48 Hours in Napa ValleyI used the Countertop Induction Oven last week to make a batch of these Oven Roasted Potato Wedges.  Woah!  They cooked quickly and evenly, and the outside was perfectly crispy.  Pretty much exactly what I’m looking for in a potato wedge…and look at those nice grill marks!  The CIO also comes with a recipe book developed by the folks at the Culinary Institute of America.  I spied recipes like Jerk Pork Chops, Baked Lemon-Stuffed Trout and Caramelized Root Vegetables…all cooked indoors on your countertop.

48 Hours in Napa ValleyAll in all, it was a whirlwind trip out to Napa, but I enjoyed every second of it!  Not only did I get to learn about Panasonic’s CIO, but I also saw my sister and tasted some great wine.  I’m definitely planning on heading back out with Laura sometime soon.  (It’s just strange to me that I can fly to London faster than I can fly to Napa, though…)

Have you guys been to Napa?  What are some other tips and tricks I should know about for my return visit?  Hopefully next time is a bit longer than this 48 Hours in Napa Valley!

Cheers!

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20 Comments

  1. Very jealous of your trip to Napa. I’ve always wanted to go, and it looks amazing. Funny about the comment about flying to London than Napa, we always joke it is faster to fly to the East Coast than it is to take the train in the UK from London to Edinburgh! Cool looking oven as well, great idea if you don’t want to heat the whole oven.

    1. Is it seriously faster to fly to the East Coast than to get to Edinburgh? Crazy! You know I love me some Edinburgh, and I’ve been plotting about how I can get back there again sometime. 🙂 Napa was amazing, and you totally need to put it on the list. Sure, that would be a long trip, but maybe you could stop off in New York on the way over. Kinda break up the traveling a bit. And, yes, this oven is great for just cooking up a quick meal…perfect for busy weeknights once we go back to work! Hope you guys had an amazing holiday season over there. Cheers to 2017 and more delicious food!

  2. It sounds like you had an awesome whirlwind Napa trip! I LOVE wine country, and try to take advantage of living in California and make a trip to a wine region in the state at least a few times a year (I’m doing a road trip up to Santa Barbara in a few weeks!). And yes, Napa and Sonoma are especially popular wine tasting areas, and making plans & reservations is usually a necessity! If you wing it, you wind up at the most random places – which can work out well or not so well 😉

    1. Oh man, I am totally hooked on wine country now, Nicole! It was a whirlwind of a trip, but totally enough to make me want to go back…and soon…and with Laura! I’m so jealous that you can get up to that area easily. That was a heck of a flight over…and the red eye coming back almost wiped me out! Hope you guys had an amazing Christmas/New Year’s out there! Cheers to 2017 and more delicious food!

  3. I love California, period….but Napa looks like such a great place to visit (especially as theres wine involved)….Happy New Year David, what a great way to end 2016!

    1. Oh, Napa is definitely a great place to visit, Lucie! Not only was it beautiful (and we weren’t even in peak season), but there was delicious wine involved, too. Thanks so much, and I hope you’ve had a wonderful and relaxing holiday break. Cheers to 2017, my friend! 😉

    1. We really did have a blast out there in California, Puja! That was my first time visiting the wine country, and I definitely plan on going back. And, yes, that oven is super nifty. Perfect for cooking up a meal when you don’t want to use the larger oven! 🙂

    1. Yeah, we really did have fun out there in Napa, Karen…and now I’m ready to go back. And this time I feel like I’ll have a better idea how to tackle wine country. It’s such a fun and gorgeous part of the country! Hope you guys had a very happy New Year’s. Cheers to 2017, my friend! 🙂

  4. That Napa trip sounds amazing, David! And how awesome that you got to see your sister too! I’ve never been to Napa, but I’ve been to San Francisco and the Lodi Region for some fantastic Zins. I’d really like to check out that resort! That’s also a pretty nifty oven and those potatoes look absolutely perfect!

    1. You definitely need to add Napa to your bucket list then, Rachelle! We only had a short stay out there, and I’m already plotting how to get back to really appreciate the region a bit more. 🙂 Also, that oven is indeed pretty nifty! Thanks!

  5. I remember catching a few of your pictures on IG from this trip – David, am so glad you decided to blog about it! All in all it sounds like one heck of an awesome trip! From the vineyards to the property yall stayed at – what a treat this trip was! And ooh – that Countertop Induction Oven sounds pretty rad too! Fingers crossed you and Laura get to go back – hey maybe for your 10 year anniversary?

    1. It took me a couple of weeks to get around to a blog post on it, but that Napa trip was just too fun to not include here somehow! The trip really was a great experience…and of course it was fun to see my sister without the kids involved. I’m thinking that 10-year anniversary idea might just need to happen! 🙂

  6. This looks like a beautiful trip! How lovely that you got a complimentary bottle of their signature wine – the hotel looks gorgeous (just had a look at their website) and very convenient that they have their own tasting room. My husband loves trips that involve visiting vineyards and wine tasting. Great idea to use Uber to get around. The countertop induction oven sounds interesting – it looks like it has done a great job roasting your potato wedges 🙂

    1. You should totally check out Napa sometime, Miriam! The Meritage was an incredible hotel, and I sadly didn’t have any big, beautiful pictures from our stay there…I think we were too focused on the vineyards! And, yes, that oven is pretty darn nifty, too. Thanks so much!

    1. Thanks so much, Arman! I did indeed have a blast out there in Napa…but it feels like it was years ago now. haha! How are the holidays already over??

    1. Hey there, Agness! Yes, Napa is an absolutely incredible place. I really wanted to try to get back out there this year, but I’m not sure that’s in the plans. (It’s still a 6-7 hour flight for us!) But Napa is most definitely on the radar for a vacation again sometime. As far as the best time to visit, I would recommend mid-late October. We went in mid-late November, and I think the tourist season was dying down a bit. There wasn’t much traffic which was nice, but most of the vineyards were already dying back for the winter when we were there. But honestly even November would be great again! Do put it on your list of places to visit! 🙂

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