Travel: Napa Valley, California

It’s hard to top a weekend getaway in to wine country and in Napa Valley you’re positively spoiled for choice when it comes to a relaxed, rural setting to while away the hours, world-class gastronomy, and of course, countless picturesque wineries to explore.

Head just seventy miles out of San Francisco and you’ll soon hit the breathtaking rolling mountains and vineyards of the infamous region, home since the 1800’s to some of the world’s most famous winemakers. Today, you can enjoy a smattering of picture-perfect towns, with their renowned eateries, stopping for a tour or three at the likes of Domaine Chandon, the super-sustainable Cade Estate and sparkling stalwart Mumm Napa.

On arriving at our super-cute guesthouse in Napa itself, we’d headed out to visit the Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville. Based at the sprawling To Kalon Vineyard, visitors can choose from walking tours with tasting sessions hosted by seasoned members of the education team, dining experiences ranging from three course dinners to a four hour wine pairing dinner with vintages from their treasured library.

The winery is famed for its 60-year-old Sauvignon Blanc vines, grapes for its world-class Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve and Oakville District Cabernet Sauvignon and for those unfamiliar with this age-old process, the sheer scale and passion of the team at hand is something quite magnificent.

For the foodies amongst us, Yountville boasts four Michelin starred restaurants – not bad for a town with a total area of 1.5 square miles. Nestled in amongst the chocolate box homes and stores you’ll find celebrated chef (the only American-born chef to hold three Michelin Stars) Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry and Bouchon Bakery. The former brings fine French cuisine to California, using the highest quality ingredients, much coming from their own Culinary Garden. Come the morning, you mustn’t miss the bakery for its array of artisan breads and classic desserts.

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Another must is Tra Vigne in St Helena, a restaurant that captures the essence of old world Italy, paired with locally sourced ingredients. If you’re visiting in summer, dining out on the Tuscan Courtyard is a location not-to-be-missed, with it twinkling lights strewn through the charming mulberry trees.

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Napa Valley is easy to explore in a long weekend, so hire a car and get discovering, with every scenic square mile packed with places to see and foodie fare to devour. Napa’s proud locals hold a wealth of knowledge too, so be sure to chat and discover your own hidden gems and vineyard tours off the beaten track. Here at HQ, we can’t recommend it highly enough.

About the Author

Based just outside London, Sarah-Leigh Bunting is a seasoned editor and marketer, having worked with some of the world's biggest fashion and interior brands and retailers. In 2012 Sarah-Leigh co-founded What Peggy Did Next (, an event and communications agency based in the UK. You can follow Sarah on... Instagram - @sarah_leigh_b Twitter - sarah_leigh_b Facebook -