Sunday, September 1, 2013

West Coast Road Trip Begins - Napa Valley

West Coast Road Trip!

Recently we went on a road trip from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon and I wanted to share some of the awesome and unexpected gems along the way. The agenda was to stick to the Highway 5 North until Portland, with a detour to Crater Lake, and come back down to LA along the Pacific Coast. 

First stop: Napa, California!

For years I've had a favorite stop for picnic fix’ins in Napa, it’s Oakville Grocery on the main highway. You can sample the meats and cheeses at their deli or just wander the isles of oils, tapenades and jams. I make it a point to always try something new when I'm there.

It's pretty easy to find a great picnic spot in Napa, but I thought I'd point you to a list of Napa Vineyards with picnic areas. I found the perfect picnic spot for us at Rombauer VineyardsThey have beautiful gardens with about four picnic tables, each are relatively private and shaded by trees. Oh, and it’s free.

One place with lovely gardens is the Mondavi Winery, I love the vibrant purples of the artichoke blooms and the fields of lavender.... 

Nearby is a very lovely little town called St Helena. It's only 3 or so blocks of charming boutiques and galleries. It was here that I first discovered Olivina, a line of natural bath and body products by a family olive farm in Napa. My favorite is the Olive Body Lotion, though they have other products made with Meyer Lemon, Fig, Honeysuckle Rose, Grape Seed Oil, Lavender, Fennel & Orange, Pomegranate, Milk & Honey and Rosemary Eucalyptus.

The wine tasting room at Sutter Home is also located in St Helena and they offer free tastings. Much to my surprise, their varieties cover a lot of ground. Even if you might not think so, chances are that they have something you will like. The Sutter Home Sweet Red has been my favorite go-to red wine ever since.

The wine tasting room at V. Sattui in St Helena is a great place to visit, they have wine tastings, a European-style deli and marketplace which is pretty popular: (photos by John Hyun)

Just 30 minutes north of Napa is the town of Calistoga where they are known for the minerals in their natural hot springs. I found the Golden Haven Hot Springs Spa who have an early bird special (50% off!) on mineral mud baths for couples. It was refreshing and a good laugh, that's for sure.

Continuing North up to Oregon we were giddy to drive past the gorgeous Mt Shasta!