Best of 2011 – Napa Valley

Beau Vigne

Beau Vigne, Our Favorite New Winery in 2011

There’s no way we tried everything possible there was to do/try/drink/taste/see in Napa County in 2011.  However, after many attempts at just that, these are our favorite memories of the year:

Best New Winery Discovery

Beau Vigne – High quality Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons are served at this tasting room in Yountville.  We didn’t visit here for the first time until 2011 (tasting room opened in 2010, relocated a few feet away in 2011).  The wines are served in Riedel’s XL (think really big) wine glasses which make the tasting experience a very elegant one.  Beau Vigne is owned by Ed and Trish Snider, a former head football coach from St. Helena High School and his wife, and some of his former students are now manning the tasting room.  6795 Washington Street, Yountville  (707) 947-7058

Best Established Winery

Pride Mountain Vineyards – The offerings here continue to shine at a winery where we are impressed by every single varietal.  Yes, the drive up Spring Mountain is worth it, but make sure to make a reservation first.  In 2011 we visited often, tasted, and went home with their Viognier, Chardonnay, Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  4026 Spring Mountain Road, St. Helena  (707) 963-4949 

Best Wine Club

Clos Du Val – Between the great wine and friendly staff in the tasting room, the fun Reserve Release Party (which had a Margaritaville theme this year), and a 40% off coupon for a wine purchase (no limit on quantity), this was a great year to be part of their wine club.  5330 Silverado Trail, Napa  (707) 261-5251

Best Food and Wine Event

Flavor! Napa Valley – 2011 was the inaugural year for this event, based at the Silverado Resort in Napa and the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena.  The Appellation Trail: Tasting Napa Valley event was a little crowded but a fantastic experience.  150 wineries and restaurants serving up food and wine selections for us (and 1200 of our closest friends) throughout the beautiful Greystone CIA facility.  You can read more about our experience here.

Best New Restaurant

Alex Italian Restaurant – Housed next to the Rancho Caymus Inn in Rutherford (at the former location of La Toque), this cozy restaurant features plenty of house-made pasta made fresh each day.  Prior to being the Executive Chef here, Nick Ritchie was the Chef de Cuisine at Bottega.  We’ve eaten both inside the dining room and outside on the patio and are quite impressed by the salads, pastas, and entrees.  We can personally recommend the Ravioli di Manzo, Cavatelli al Ragu Antico, and Fettucine al Sugo Bianco di Coniglio.  1140 Rutherford Road, Rutherford  (707) 967-5500

Best Old Restaurant

Bistro Don Giovanni – We’ve been here many times over the years and have eaten at the bar when we couldn’t get a table in the room.  The service is excellent no matter where you sit and in 2011 a dinner here with some close friends reminded us what a fantastic restaurant this has continued to be over the years.  The Braised Lamb Shank and Ravioli with Lemon Cream are old standbys, and a Lasagna made with Lamb was a noteworthy special in 2011.  4110 Howard Lane, Napa  (707) 224-3300

Best Breakfast or Brunch

Brix – Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. each Sunday, you won’t find a buffet brunch in Napa Valley with better food.  Fresh seafood (including oysters, clams, and house-smoked salmon), hearty salads (including Quinoa and Toasted Almond), a great cheese board (usually including Brie and Humboldt Fog), and classic brunch dishes (Scrambled Eggs, Eggs Benedict, Vegetable Quiche, Sourdough Pancakes, and Applewood Smoked Bacon) form the basis for a great meal.  When you’re ready, there’s also a plethora of dessert choices.  My parents absolutely loved the brunch we had here to celebrate my mother’s birthday, and they’re very experienced judges.   7377 St. Helena Highway, Yountville  (707) 944-2749

Best Burger

Rutherford Grill – We usually come here for lunch instead of dinner, we usually eat at the bar, and we usually order one of three things – the Chicken Sandwich, the Prime Rib French Dip, or the Cheeseburger.  It’s a slightly easier decision now that the Chicken Sandwich is off the menu (yes, still annoyed about that).  The larger question for us here is what side to order – the vegetable of the day, a side salad, the mashed potatoes colcannon, or the fries (depending on how good/bad we decide to be).  1180 Rutherford Road, Rutherford  (707) 963-1792 

Best Pizza

Oenotri – We absolutely love the wide range of choices here on the menu, but one item we almost always order is the Margherita Pizza.  The alchemy of Mozzarella di Bufala, San Marzano Tomato Sauce, and Oregano on a pizza crust that even tastes delicious plain keeps calling our name.  The owners here even imported a wood-fueled Acino oven from Naples to bake their authentic Napoletana pizzas in.  1425 First Street, Napa  (707) 252-1022

Best Happy Hour

Brix – We actually enjoyed Happy Hour at Brix a few times in 2011 because of how good the deal is.  Between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, drinks (including beer, cocktails, and wines by the glass) are half price as well as the entire bar menu (with options such as crab salad, house made charcuterie, tempura vegetables, pizza, and a cheeseburger).  7377 St. Helena Highway, Yountville  (707) 944-2749

Those were our favorite memories of 2011 in Napa Valley.  Tomorrow, we’ll share our favorite memories of 2011 from Sonoma County.

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Best of 2011 – Napa Valley — 4 Comments

  1. very interesting stuff, last year iwent to SF but i didn’t have enough to go to Napa Valley. Next time I go there I’ll make sure I stop by…keep having fun guys!

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