Napa Welcomes You…

The Insider is all about promoting Napa and Sonoma. In the wake of the wildfires, it’s imperative to let people know, even though the fires were devastating, most of Napa and Sonoma counties weren’t affected by the fires thanks to the awesome First Responders’s actions. So the Insider set out to do a day tour of each area to let people know that it’s perfectly safe, welcome and desired for people to do tasting tours and stay in Napa or Sonoma. 

Driving up Hwy 29, the Insider’s first stop was Del Dotto’s newly opened Piazza building. While construction continues on their planned caves and barrel tasting rooms, the Piazza kitchen is alive and humming with chef Joshua Schwartz knocking out terrific food stuffs to go with Del Dotto’s wines. Piazza’s Delicacies Tasting Menu is a delightful epicurean experience that my guest cannot stop raving about to this day.  It was a pleasure to have Todd serving their wines, share his knowledge and entertainment skills.  

Just a little past the Oak Valley grocery, blink you’ll miss it, the entrance to Opus One Winery. After being served their 2012 and 2014 cab, take your wine glass up to their very fine terrace and enjoy the incredible views. Just so relaxing and the wines are very fine too.  

A hundred yards down the road and you’re at the Mondavi Winery. Turn into the impressive grounds, and head for their members tasting room where Doug Nanfria leads tours and tells interesting wine tales while pouring some nice Mondavi wines. The Mondavi Reserve Cab rocked!!!  Doug is a mountain of knowledge. 

A quick sprint down the 29 again.  Don’t fail to stop at Del Dotto’s flagship winery building. High ceiling lobby with tasting bar, enjoyable tour down their barrel hallway out into a gorgeous back yard grounds. It’s fun to sip and stroll with their pinot noir. 

A little farther down the road, just short of St. Helena see that metal bunny with a Halloween hat on and pull into the Hall Winery.  A totally different wine tasting experience. All modern glass and art work, but just as enjoyable. Really liked their merlot. 

And then down the road to the Castello di Amorosa just before you enter Calistoga.  What a kick that castle is! The Insider is normally leery of popular tourist places.. and the Castello is very popular. But it should be.  It’s got such great grounds, tasting rooms and avenues to explore, dive right in!! The wine, cheese and charcuterie pairings were so good.  As well you could spend an hour easily exploring the grounds. 


Our knowledgeable server, John Costanzo, had a great sense of humor, laughed when I asked if he was related to George Costanza… and we had a ball tasting wines, oh those pinots are so good…  my guest  loved their sweet wines… in short, if you think the Castle experience is too touristy… you’re wrong.. .go there and have a ball… 


 Napa awaits you ….