Walt’s Best
Walt Wunderly - Walt's Napa Wine Guide




There are so many great places to eat in Napa Wine Country, it is hard to chose the “best.”  This is not intended to suggest there are not many great alternatives. There are. My short list:

Topping the list is the French Laundry. Thomas Keller’s first restaurant is great food in a great setting. Set in an a old stone farmhouse, surrounded by organic gardens, and then set in Napa Valley – the setting is charm on steroids. The menu is mostly French, with other contemporary items mixed in and paired with the best of wines.  There are two different nine-course menus every night. The menus change daily.   Expect a long meal.  The French Laundry also is open for lunch Friday through Sunday.  Not inexpensive.

The Restaurant at Meadowood is one of 10 restaurants in America to earn 3 stars from the Michelin. It is only three-Michelin-star restaurant on the West Coast besides the French Laundry but with a more affordable three-course menu. Located in a the Meadowood, St. Helena luxury resort, it is one of the best dining experiences in the USA. Everything served, from vegetables to shellfish to meat are all from local producers. Dailey menus offer between 15-20 courses- or 8 to 10 courses. Not inexpensive.

For American cuisine, try the Rutherford Grill, on Hwy 29 next to BV, burgers, or for ribs and cornbread.

Turning from the high end, Gott’s Roadside is located along the roadside in St. Helena in. This is the original Gott’s Roadside of the family-run Bay Area chain, started up in 1949. Burgers, ahi poke tacos and milkshakes are to had here, and eaten in the surrounding outdoor picnic area.


Well, let’s start with wine tasting. Hwy 29 leading is wine tasting central in Napa Wine Country, followed by Silverado Trail.
If this is your first Napa wine excursion, you are in for a treat.  If it is a return visit, you are still in for a treat.  There are over 500 wineries in Napa Valley, and over 400 with tasting rooms (600+ if you count Sonoma)  – More than enough to keep you busy on multiple trips.
For first timers, suggested stops include  variety of the tasting styles.  Consider starting with a smaller Wine Bar style tasting room or two to start, such as ZD, or Heitz.  Try a sit down experience such as Duckhorn.  Duckhorn tasting is sit down with side by side tastings in a beautiful Victorian overlooking vineyards.  Visit Del Dotto for a memorable cave barrel tasting, where will taste from barrels with a “wine thief’, often comparing comparable vintages prepared in different ways. Warning – Bring your wallet!   For some grand salons, head to Silver Oak or Hall.

For repeaters, there are number of wineries to expand your knowledge, library, and experience.  Try Pride and nearby Barnett for a hillside winery excursion.  To get lost on the cave tour, visit Harlan.  For the upper end, taste at Cardinal or Bond or Kinzo.  Kinzo is an experience, not only is the wine incredible, my favorite, Ai, the grounds are spectacular. 3800 acres of pristine property, Kenzo is the largest land owner in Napa. Do not miss it. Reservations required.

Some of my favorite times have been when we are just driving and see a winery, that we have never heard of, pull in and are pleasantly surprised. Try Two Goats winery, the goats are actually in the pasture. There are so many hidden tasting rooms in between Hwy 29 and Silverado trail. Some may require appointments but others are welcoming to show you their wares.

Famous mud baths in Calistoga, wonderful spas, and don’t forget the many many incredible restaurants along the way. Shopping, my favorite place is St Helena. On the main st there are 2 great places to stock up on olive oils. Don’t forget to look into the window of the chocolate store, chocolate designs you swear are real. St Helena also boasts wonderful art galleries, clothing stores and even has a 1 movie, movie theater. From days gone. If you head out towards Spring Mountain Rd, you can visit, Barnett, Sherwin and Pride. All require reservations, but Pride is a must, at the top of the hill and  the views are incredible.

All said, get a limo, stock up on bread, cheese salami and water, and spend the day discovering uncharted wineries.


As you head down Hwy 29, be sure to stop at V. Satuii Winery and deli for some cheese bread and snacks to enjoy while you are wine tasting. The V. Sattui Winery deli, located on Hwy 29 in the heart of Napa Valley, is open 7 days a week, has cheeses, salami & pâtés, fresh fruits and desserts.   The  V. Sattui Winery deli and winery is surrounded by manicured gardens, lawns, giant oak trees and 35 acres of vineyards with picnic grounds on site.  From 11:30am to 3:30pm on the weekends (weather permitting) their outdoor Barbecue features mesquite-grilled prawns, tri-tip, salmon and ribs, wood-fired pizzas, and fresh or grilled local oysters.

Or you can go across the street to the famous Dean and Deluca where you will find not only gourmet foods, but all things wine, kitchen and cooking. Stock up on some rare cheeses and salami and fresh breads as well. Either of these stores make for a great picnic. 

Many wineries ave picnic areas.

 Share your best of Napa Valley Wine Country!