A Day in Napa Valley: Getting off the Beaten Path
Everyone knows that Napa Valley is one of the best spots in the U.S. to find a good bottle of wine. Many visitors to the area, however, don’t stray far from the main drag.
The Silverado Trail is a great alternative to the often-congested St. Helena Highway.
Running from Calistoga, Calif., to the city of Napa, Calif., the Silverado Trail is dotted with unique and accomplished wineries. From small-batch premium wines to fully organic vineyards, the viticulture along this route is unlike any place else in the country.
It takes all of 45 minutes to drive between Napa and Calistoga, but a wine connoisseur could spend weeks touring vineyards and tasting superb California wines. It’s quite difficult to choose just two Silverado Trail vineyards, but Lava Vine Vineyard, Robert Sinskey Vineyards capture the quirky, elegant and classic blend of the Napa Valley thoroughfare.
Just outside Calistoga lies one of the most unique vineyards in all of Napa Valley. Lava Vine Vineyards is a relatively new vineyard for the area, but carries a rich history dating back some 3 million years.
The steep hillside was carved by lava flowing from Mount St. Helena. The modern vineyard reclaimed an old Portuguese-grape vineyard but the vintners did little to modernize the winemaking process. The steep, rocky fields mean every bottle of wine is organically crafted by hand — with a little help from some furry gardeners.
Visitors to Lava Vine Vineyards are in for an intimate but enthralling experience. At just 4 acres, the vineyard is a quick tour, but the staff – including chickens and two sheep dubbed the “wooly weeders”— makes for a memorable visit. Situated in an old barn, the tasting room feels more like a group of good friends chatting over a bottle of great wine. Unpretentious pourers, music and interesting tasting accompaniments like olive oil-drizzled dark chocolate make the small, vineyard a must see and a worthy detour off the St. Helena Highway.
About 25 minutes south down the Silverado Trail lies a classic vineyard steeped in tradition and elegance.
The Robert Sinskey Vineyard exemplifies the connoisseur culture. The vineyard takes tremendous care to give visitors a gourmand experience. A Farm to Table Tour runs $75 per person, but is well worth the price and will garner a finer experience than a few cheaper venues. The tasting tour comes with scrumptious snacks of fine meats, cheeses and bread that pair perfectly with on-site wines.
Another reason to visit the winery is the fantastic recipe books. While they might be a tad complicated for the normal RV galley, plates such as the wild mushroom and cheese soufflé, the goat cheese strudel and provincial beef daube will get your salivary glands pumping at first sight. From steak to lamb shank, every scrumptious meal and appetizer is pared with one of the vineyards organic wines.
From the Robery Sinskey Vineyards, it’s just a short drive into the city of Napa for fantastic food and a great place to park the RV.
Napa is jam-packed with top-notch eateries, but FARM is the perfect end to a day travelling down the Silverado Trail. The strictly local spot offers food sourced within 150 miles of the restaurant. The menu ranges from fresh lobster risotto and local oysters to a scrumptiously saucy prime filet. Cap it all off with a potato cake and sour cream ice cream dessert for a stunning meal from start to finish. The restaurant also offers corking service for $25; so don’t be shy about brining in a bottle from the RV wine cellar.
The Napa Valley Expo RV Park is a great place for a Napa Valley home base. Though spartan in vegetation, the park offers all the amenities for any RV. A quick drive in a dinghy will get RVers back up the Silverado Trail or along the St. Helena Highway. The park also has a stop for the famous Napa Valley Wine Train.
For more information on the historic Silverado Trail and other attractions in the area, visit the Silverado Trail Wineries Association.
Looking for another day’s worth of activities?
Head on over to our sister site Trailer Life for another day in Napa Valley.