If you follow along with my social media updates on Instagram and Twitter, you might have noticed that I was recently in Napa with Tyler for a three-day getaway. This was our first Napa experience, so I thought I would share at least the highlights in case you ever find yourself wanting to venture to this part of wine country, yourself.
After three productive days of helping a friend with business in San Jose, we packed up and left for Napa around noon on Monday morning. We were en route to White House Inn, a blend of downtown Napa and modern wine country melded into a newly renovated, contemporary boutique style bed and breakfast. The drive was just under two hours from downtown San Jose in your average California traffic, which felt like a breeze since it would otherwise be a solid 8-hour road trip coming from South Orange County.
Once we turned onto the street where White House is located, it was apparent that this was bed and breakfast central, tucked into a long established residential neighborhood with several houses converted into cozy inns. The streets were reminiscent of small town streets where kids would play in the yards for hours and there weren’t HOA regulations demanding the properties look like Stepford.
Easily visible from the street, White House had a contemporary painted wooden-sign in front welcoming guests into the driveway that pulled back alongside the property to a beautiful, large house nestled into perfectly lush, green landscaping.
Walking up the porch steps, the house reminded me of the white 1910 Victorian style home I grew up in. If you’ve never spent time around older houses (that early 1900, or late 1800 era), it really is a treat to enjoy the character and craftsmanship these old homes have to offer that we typically don’t see in modern architecture. The history on this house was rich... "Originally built in 1886 for German immigrant, Emanuel Manasse, the inventor of leather tanning techniques that are still in use today, The Manasse Mansion was designed by famed architect W.H. Corlett. The mansion is an unusual combination of three Victorian styles: Queen Anne, Eastlake and Colonial Revival and is a stunning example of historic architecture in Napa, reflecting the aristocratic lifestyle that existed during the late 1890's and early 1900's. Additionally, it is one of the few properties to boast the proud distinction of being a county Landmark. With over 12,000 square feet of interior space, the mansion was one of the largest residences built during the 1800's. Now operating as White House, this spectacular mansion offers guests a unique combination of architectural beauty and modern design. Interiors are chic yet cozy. Artist influences surround and the downtown Napa location make this resort-style inn a 'not-to-be-missed' experience."
We were greeted at the check in room by an easy going and friendly young man named Sean, and shortly after by inn keepers, Scott and Candace (these two clearly care deeply about what they do and work hard to maintain the immaculate grounds at White House), who added to the impression that this was the kind of place people can come and breathe easy- which of course, was the reason we were there to begin with. Nothing was short of five star from there on, and the hospitality was some of the best I've experienced.
Some of the noteworthy highlights were the handwritten welcome note next to a bowl of fresh fruit and bag of trail mix welcoming us to our room, the daily evening wine social featuring a handful of wines, and small plate offerings, fresh cookies left out after hours (because when in Napa, treat yo-self), the colorful and filling tapas style breakfast, and outdoor lounge’ing areas where you could light up a fire pit and enjoy conversation with other vacationers. The bed and breakfast experience here was definitely the highlight of the trip, and we will definitely be back.
Outside of our restful hours at White House, we wined and dined at several spots and these are 6-must do’s if you’re going to be Napa’ing it yourself:
Paraduxx Winery (Silverado Trail, Napa)
ZuZu (Downtown Napa - Tapas bar)
Kitchen Door (Oxbow Market – American, Pizza, Bar)
Oxbow Market (First Street, Napa)
Boon Fly Café (Sonoma Hwy, Napa)
Sweetie Pies (Main Street, Napa)
We opted to drive to Paraduxx Winery, although if we’d planned to do a longer wine tasting, opting for an Uber would have been the route to go (because DUI’ing isn’t cool). We left White House around 10:30am, and the drive might have been 20 minutes, if that- full of beautiful scenery along the way, passing several other wineries and acres of gorgeous green. Paraduxx was easy to find, and there was plenty of parking in the perfectly paved gravel lot. We were greeted by friendly staff as soon as we stepped through the door- and since we hadn’t called ahead of time to make a reservation, we were relieved to see we were some of the first guests; we opted to do a flight of reds ($30/person) and were guided back to the outdoor patio area to sit and wait for our flights to be brought out. You can watch my mish-mashed vlog video on youtube.com/kelseyleedotcom of our tour!
ZuZu, a beloved, Spanish-inspired restaurant and tapas bar in Napa’s historic Old Town was more than we expected and we left full and wishing we could pick it up and take it back to California with us. The warm Mediterranean décor, lively atmosphere, and renowned small-plates menu inspired by the culinary traditions of Spain and South America made this the perfect first night out experience for our Napa trip. Must try’s here are the Flat-Iron Steak with Roasted Jalapeno Chimichurri and the Ceviche del Dia (citrus, jicama and avocado). See the full menu, drink lists and hours of operation at: http://www.zuzunapa.com
Oxbow Public Market was a nice pitstop to peruse around before we dove into some of the best artisan pizza I’ve had at Kitchen Door restaurant (inside Oxbow). In likeness to a well-designed indoor farmers market full of culinary going on’s and local edibles like flavor infused olive oils, seasonings and sweet treats, Oxbow is home to some of the area’s favorite spots for great food and wine. From coffee, cupcakes, seafood, chocolate, Italian, pizza, wine, beer, wings and more, whatever you’re in a mood for, you’ll find something that fits. Open 7-days/week, you can see specific merchant hours here: http://oxbowpublicmarket.com/market-hours/
Boon Fly Café was recommended for lunch by a friend who lives in the area, and we didn’t leave disappointed! I’d say just go for the photo op of the big red barn, but the food was great, so let’s not steal the kitchen’s thunder. Salads, burgers, fish tacos, chicken, chops, fish and steak. We opted out, but it was said that the donuts made here are 5-star, so next time we’re around we’ll have to see for ourselves! Find the full list of breakfast/brunch/lunch/mid-day/dinner/dessert and wine list here: http://www.boonflycafe.com
We were about to head home from our third day in Napa, after a stroll around the Riverwalk when the aroma of all-things-delicious led us into Sweetie Pies bakery and café on Main Street. We were still full from our tapas style breakfast at White House, so just opted for a sweet treat for the road, although the food and coffee looked and smelled amazing. We’d picked a champagne cake (mini) that tasted as great as it looked – the cake was baked perfectly, and the frosting was surprisingly light- not as sweet as we expected, which made it even better (because typically I scrape half of it off in lieu of making my blood sugar hate me). See the many options and hours of operation at: http://sweetiepies.com
I’d love to hear about your Napa visit/s if you’ve gone before or what you have planned if you're getting away to wine country in the future! I was not paid or compensated to share my reviews of any of these businesses, and hope you’ll find them just as enjoyable if you get the chance to visit them yourself!
Don't forget to watch the vlog on my channel at youtube.com/kelseyleedotcom!