Vino Bello Resort is a true Napa Valley resort, so I was happy to invite a wine-loving friend on this trip to do the ultimate wine-tasting vacation.
My trip begins with a flight to the area from Virginia. This coast-to-coast trip takes about 7.5 hours by plane if you do not have a connecting flight.
My flight came into Napa (APC) airport
. The airport is just 3.5 miles from the resort. I am renting a car, but that is so close that you certainly would not have to. I chose to rent a car because I want to drive around and see a good deal of the area while I am at the resort.
This is the heartbeat region for wine in the United States. If you do not know about the history of Napa Valley wines and their popularity, a fun movie to watch is called Bottle Shock
. It just might make you a fan of the region before your trip and it is a good movie as well.
Once I arrived at the resort I was greeted by friendly staff, and then a 1-bedroom unit that was well maintained and had every feature and amenity I was hoping for. This included a fireplace as well as a small kitchen and a washer and dryer.
With all of my travel behind me today, I wanted to grab something to eat and settle in for rest to hit the ground running tomorrow.
So I stopped in the resort at a casual dining location for dinner instead of leaving the resort. The food was good, especially for an onsite casual dining location. That makes it nice when you do not have to go somewhere because the food at the resort is good.
- Cable TV
- Coffee Maker
- DVD Player
- Ice Maker
- In-Room Safe
Then the resort itself offers all of these options.
- Activities Center/Desk
- BBQ Grills
- Business Center/Fax
- Children’s Pool (Outdoor)
- Fitness Room
- Concierge Services
- Hot Tub
- Internet Access
- Kid’s Activities
- Pool Bar
- Computer With Internet (Shared)
- Game Room
- Picnic Area
Day Two Wine Tastings and a Driver
Driven to Drink
Better safe than sorry when you plan a day of visiting local wineries. And my friend who will be my tasting companion is being spoiled by our own driver/ guide today. It is just worth it not to have one person worried about pacing themselves and being safe.
Close to the resort, there are several locations within walking distance but we will save them for later today if we want a few more after we get back to the resort. For now, we had a driver, and we were going to enjoy that safety.
Being a fan of the movie Bottle Shock, I was excited to have booked a tasting at that very same winery. Chateau Montelena Winery
really does exist and looks as amazing in real life as it did in the movie. Located at 1429 Tubbs Ln, Calistoga CA 94515, they are open for tastings much of the year and are still so popular that you need to book in advance online.
After starting out at such a nice location, we then started to visit other wineries they recommended or our driver recommended working our way slowly back towards the resort. The Chateau Montelena Winery
was about 1 hour away and that put a great number of wineries between that amazing location and our resort. So many that we had to choose which we wanted to visit. In other areas of the country (even heavy wine areas) you would not see anywhere near the number of wineries per square mile.
At last count, Napa alone had over 375 wineries with almost all of those offering tastings, tours, or experiences. We resolved to try to visit as many that others recommended as we could with a stop for lunch. During the hours, we had a great driver and car service.
We chose to visit another location from the movie and a great Sonoma Winery before turning back to the resort’s direction. Kunde
is a 5th
generation winery that was used for some of the most scenic parts of the film. Their wines were outstanding, and even though I am not a wine snob, I was impressed with the taste, and their amazing location.
Here we chose to do a mountain-top tasting along with a great tour of the grounds and process. It felt very behind-the-scenes and special, and I would highly recommend it.
If we both wanted to stay rational while drinking all the wine, we needed to stop and eat something more than cheese. Almost directly across from Kunde are Salt and Stone
an American restaurant with great reviews. I had French Onion Soup, and then a half-pound burger that was both outstanding. Each also helped me relocate my feet.
After our lunch, the party continued with 5 more wineries on the way back to the resort.
I tipped our driver for a great job and his professionalism.
Day Three Driving in Wine Country
This is an amazing area, even if you are not being driven from tasting to tasting. That was a, but it is also amazing to just drive here and see all the amazing fields of grapes, and the beauty that Napa Valley
and Sonoma have to offer.
I do not like the idea of earthquakes at all but this area and its great climate make it easy to understand how someone 50 years ago could have driven through the area and just said “This is it, I found my home.”
Today I wanted to do something special with my friend and guest on this vacation. The weather was supposed to be good today, so yesterday early on during our wine tours and tastings, I arranged for a hot-air balloon ride. It should last about 90 minutes, weather permitting, and will take us up for some amazing views of the area.
We went through one of the companies listed on the Napa Valley site
and were happy with our experience. While not a cheap thing to do, the area here is so wonderful for views that I think if you are going to do a balloon experience anywhere, this may be where you want to invest in one. Our 1+ hour ride was about $300 per person and I chose the option that included a brunch so it was a bit more. It was certainly romantic. So much so, I bet they get at least a proposal a day on these rides.
From the website, their description is as follows.
We will meet you outside of The Model Bakery at Oxbow Public Market on the morning of your flight. From there, we will take you to our launch site where you will get to see the final stages of our balloon inflation. Once you board the balloon, a photographer will take your photo and have them ready for you after your flight to purchase. From there, your flight is about approximately an hour!
Once you land, we will take you back to the Oxbow Market, where we host your brunch on the patio of C Casa. C Casa offers both a vegetarian and meat option; choose during your flight booking. Upon arrival, the breakfast you have chosen will be served to you along with Champagne! Altogether, you are usually with us for about 4 hours.
Our time with the group also included pick up and drop off from the resort, which was a nice touch. They were right all in it was about 4 hours but you felt entertained the entire time, and never rushed.
You can just tell when a company has been doing something for years and has their act together. This whole experience was like a fine oiled machine.
After we returned to the resort, we chose to go to the few winery tasting rooms right by the resort to check them out and try some more wine. I was thinking a little hair of the dog would not hurt me and my gal was just thinking she would like some more wine, please.
I encourage anyone who is a fan of wine to make this trip and choose this very resort. It was so well located, and those close to wineries made it even more fun. Just make sure you book with TZort