Other Eats on Big Island’s Western Coast

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With so many dining options in Kailua-Kona and Kawaihae one may never eat a meal beyond those regions. Yet the Big Island of Hawaii has much to offer food lovers. Chances are during your time on the Big Island’s western coast you may venture into areas beyond Kailua-Kona and Kawaihae. Below we offer four restaurants sprinkled throughout the Big Island’s western coast to try out if you’re in the neighborhood.

The Coffee Shack

Tourist that are spending the day visiting coffee farms will find the Coffee Shack a great place for breakfast or lunch. In addition, the Coffee Shack is a great pit stop for those heading from the Big Island’s western coast out to the Volcanoes National Park. Even if you aren’t touring coffee farms or volcanoes Coffee Shack’s view alone makes it a worthwhile eatery. Enjoy the views of the ocean while sipping coffee and eating your meal. One of the best dishes off the breakfast menu is the French toast, made with their homemade Luau Bread. The Coffee Shack serves its own coffee, made from coffee beans from their own coffee farm. You can order a cup with your meal and buy a bag to take with you if you wish. For lunch choose from a variety of sandwich or pizza options. Homemade dessert is available for those with room to spare in their stomachs after their meal.

Manago Hotel Restaurant

Three miles away from the historic Kainaliu district in Captain Cook you will find the Manago Hotel. The Manago Hotel has on site a Hawaiian-American restaurant. This Big Island’s western coast restaurant is known for their famous pork chops. Grilled to perfection, the pork chops are tender in the inside and seared on the outside to ideal specifications. This attention to detail carries over to grilling other items on the menu such as the New York Steak and Mahi Mahi. Each entrée comes with a bowl of rice and three sides. Sides rotate daily and might include string beans, tofu, or macaroni salad.

Merriman’s

For a fine dining experience on the Big Island’s western coast dine at Merriman’s in Waimea. This region of the Big Island is cooler than the rest of the west coast. Contrary to other parts of the island if you are dining at Merriman’s for dinner bring a jacket or sweater to combat the cool breeze. Open for brunch Saturday and Sunday, and lunch and dinner daily once inside Merriman’s you will receive top-notch service. The staff is attentive and dedicated to providing you a wonderful dining experience. Menus change but always include cuts of meat from local ranches. The fish Merriman’s serves is straight from the nearby ocean. Those that enjoy a glass of wine with dinner will find Merriman’s wine list exhaustive with great selections from California and Europe.

Monstera

Four miles from the Waikoloa Beach Resorts and within the Shops at Mauna Lani is Monstera. This Big Island’s western coast restaurant specializes in Japanese-Hawaiian cuisine. Anyone who craves fresh served sushi will enjoy dining at Monstera. Select from a variety of sushi rolls or sashimi options. For those wishing to augment their sushi selections the menu includes small plates and noodle dishes. The head chef of Monstera trained in Tokyo and has worked at hotels such as the Ritz-Carlton. Having such a skilled chef at the helm means that the meal you consume is a feast for your mouth.

 

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Big Island West Coast Eats

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The Coffee Shack: 19.475276, -155.892291
Manago Hotel Restaurant: 19.489198, -155.910803
Merriman’s: 20.023014, -155.676598
Monstera: 19.941275, -155.857801
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The Coffee Shack
Other Eats on Big Island’s Western Coast
The Coffee Shack, Honaunau-Napoopoo, HI, United States
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Manago Hotel Restaurant
Other Eats on Big Island’s Western Coast
Manago Hotel, Mamalahoa Highway, Captain Cook, HI, United States
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Merriman’s
Other Eats on Big Island’s Western Coast
Merriman's Big Island, Opelo Road, Waimea, HI, United States
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Monstera
Other Eats on Big Island’s Western Coast
Monstera, Mauna Lani Drive, Puako, HI, United States

 

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Eat Your Way Through Portland

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Portland is a food lover’s paradise. There are so many varieties of cuisine throughout the city for you to indulge your stomach. From fusions to classics to new age there’s a dish for everyone. After visiting Portland when your stomach grumbles you’ll know what it’s trying to say is, “take me back to Portland, I want to eat!”

Portland Mornings

Voodoo doll doughnut at Voodoo Doughnut - Portland, Oregon

Voodoo doll doughnut at Voodoo Doughnut

A motto of Portland’s is “Keep Portland Weird”. A way to experience that weirdness both in visual form and with your taste buds is by stopping over at Voodoo Doughnut. Visitors line up early at either of Voodoo Doughnut’s two Portland locations to buy theses tasty pastries. Both locations open late so you can satisfy your doughnut craving from morning to night. There are over fifty doughnuts to choose from and the doughnuts run the gamut from the extreme to the classics. The namesake doughnut is the “Voodoo Doll” doughnut. This doughnut is in the shape of a person with a pretzel stick jutting out just as a pin on an actual voodoo doll. Another fan favorite is the “Bacon Maple Bar” doughnut. Other popular items are the various cereal-topped doughnuts such as “Captain my Captain” (Captain Crunch) or “The Loop” (Fruit Loops).  Keep in mind that transactions are cash only, so bring money and not your credit cards. The original location, Voodoo Doughnut ONE, is next to Caffe Vita. Caffe Vita is a coffee stand that serves coffee and other beverages for those needing a drink to go with the doughnuts.

Breakfast at Pine State Biscuits - Portland, Oregon

Breakfast at Pine State Biscuits

For those that prefer a heartier meal head over to Pine State Biscuits for breakfast. Fresh buttermilk biscuits can be ordered plain, with a spread such as jam, or as a sandwich. The biscuit sandwiches include a breakfast favorite made with biscuit, cheese, egg, and your choice of meat (bacon, country ham, sausage, fried chicken, or steak). Other biscuit sandwiches include a chicken club and a BBQ biscuit, meaning you could eat at Pine State Biscuit for each meal of the day.

Portland Food Trucks

Waffle from Gaufre Gourmet - Portland, Oregon

Waffle from Gaufre Gourmet

In Europe every Christmas a multitude of cities break out market stalls serving such delicacies as mulled wines, warm dishes with cheeses as its main ingredients, and desserts a plenty. The problem is that these markets only appear in December. In Portland food stalls are open every month of the year. Although these stalls are stationary and don’t truck anywhere they are called food trucks. There are plenty of choices to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Sprawled throughout the city in clusters no one food truck is the same. You may find the same style of cuisine, for instance, a few Vietnamese food trucks. Except each truck must offer something different from its regional cuisine neighbor. This means that one Vietnamese truck may sell pho while the other focuses on selling only rice plates. Ensuring no two food trucks are alike means so many choices your stomach may get full just thinking of the sheer enormity of everything it could consume. The best thing to do is to dig right in and pick whatever fits your fancy. One example of a great food truck is The Gaufre Gourmet. They serve up a Belgian style waffle that will satisfy your sweet or savory tooth.

Portland Dining

Seoul Sliders at KOi Fusion - Portland, Oregon

Seoul Sliders at KOi Fusion

For those that prefer to sit while eating Portland offers great restaurant choices. KOi Fusion has both food truck locations and indoor locations. One of their indoor locations is shared with a couple other eateries and has plenty of seating available. KOi Fusion serves up Mexican-Korean fusion dishes that rival similar food trucks and restaurants found in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. Choose from tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and even sliders. These dishes are made with your choice of meats such as bulgogi, kalbi, chicken, or pork. The “Seoul Sliders” with bulgogi BBQ beef on a soft bread bun with zesty coleslaw is a feast for the senses.

Burger and Fries at Lardo - Portland, Oregon

Burger and Fries at Lardo

For the hog fanatic, Lardo serves up an assortment of hog cuts on scrumptious bread rolls filled with fancy spreads. These aren’t your average sandwiches with offerings such as the “Double Burger” made with porkstrami. Lardo’s menu includes a “Pork Meatball Banh Mi” and a “Griddled Mortadella” sandwich with provolone. Lardo’s “Pho’rench Dip” sandwich is made from the same ingredients found in a bowl of Vietnamese pho. If you are looking for a classic sandwich order the “Porchetta” sandwich. There are three Lardo locations in Portland each of which serves up various sandwiches, fries, and beers.

Chicken wings at Pok Pok - Portland, Oregon

Chicken wings at Pok Pok

Those wishing for more of a romantic dinner setting will want to eat at Toro Bravo. The ambience is low light and the wood tables evoke a warm and comforting vibe. With a rotating menu of Spanish style tapas it’s possible to never have the same meal at Toro Bravo twice. Another great restaurant worth making time for is Pok Pok. This restaurant serves a variety of Thai dishes. The restaurant staple is their chicken wings a dish that has become so popular that travelers come to Portland just to eat them.

Portland Drinks

Beer tasting flight at Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) - Portland, Oregon

Beer tasting flight at Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB)

With so much food consumption one undertakes in Portland it makes for a thirst that must be quenched. Portland doesn’t disappoint in that regard either, having many coffee shops, ranging from chains and local joints. Besides coffee Portland is home to more breweries than any other city in the entire world. With so many to choose from selecting just one brewery to visit is hard. If you have to a good choice is HUB, which stands for Hopworks Urban Brewery. What sets HUB apart is that is serves organic beers at both of their two locations. An item on the beer menu is their flight of ten beers, a way to sample the various beers brewed by HUB. HUB is not just for adults but a place you can bring the whole family. Their locations include a restaurant that serves pub fare such as chicken wings, burgers, and pizzas.

View of the surrounding area of De Ponte Cellars - Dayton, Oregon

View of the surrounding area of De Ponte Cellars

Besides beer Oregon is well known for the wine produced in the state. In just over an hour from the city center of Portland you will find a few of Oregon’s best wineries. Top wineries include De Ponte Cellars, Domaine Drouhin, and WillaKenzie Estate. At each of these locations you’ll find full-bodied pinots and crisp whites wines. These wines are sipped in tasting rooms that overlook gorgeous views of vineyards, trees, and on cloud free days even Mount Hood. The tall magnificent trees that are found throughout the Pacific Northwest adds a special quality to the experience of wine tasting in Oregon. You won’t see trees of this kind wine tasting in places such as Napa or the Loire Valley, so soak it in during your visit.

 

 

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Portland, Oregon

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Portland Building: 45.515663, -122.678500
Pearl District: 45.530209, -122.681204
Downtown, Portland: 45.513454, -122.680134
Pioneer Courthouse Square: 45.518300, -122.678905
Chinatown Gates: 45.523512, -122.674157
Washington Park: 45.512640, -122.712736
International Rose Garden: 45.518951, -122.705273
Portland Japanese Garden: 45.519136, -122.706780
Multnomah Falls: 45.576160, -122.115776
Wahkeena Falls: 45.574181, -122.127430
Vista House on Crown Point: 45.539579, -122.244446
Voodoo Doughnut ONE (original location): 45.522621, -122.673111
Caffe Vita: 45.522447, -122.672914
Pine State Biscuits: 45.558886, -122.642744
Gaufre Gourmet: 45.521057, -122.680316
KOi Fusion: 45.450419, -122.781197
Lardo: 45.522021, -122.683540
Toro Bravo: 45.540813, -122.663611
Pok Pok: 45.504565, -122.632159
Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB): 45.496893, -122.634884
De Ponte Cellars: 45.262715, -123.058269
Domaine Drouhin: 45.265540, -123.055634
WillaKenzie Estate: 45.360877, -123.137926
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Portland Building
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Portland Building, Portland, OR, United States
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Pearl District
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Pearl District, Portland, OR, United States
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Downtown, Portland
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Downtown, Portland, OR, United States
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Pioneer Courthouse Square
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland, OR, United States
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Chinatown Gates
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Chinatown Gates Portland, Northwest 4th Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Washington Park
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Washington Park, Portland, OR, United States
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International Rose Garden
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

International Rose Test Garden, Southwest Kingston Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Portland Japanese Garden
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Portland Japanese Garden, Southwest Kingston Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Multnomah Falls
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Multnomah Falls, Multnomah County, OR, United States
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Wahkeena Falls
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Wahkeena Falls, Multnomah County, OR, United States
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Vista House on Crown Point
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Vista House, Historic Columbia River Highway, Corbett, OR, United States
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Voodoo Doughnut ONE (original location)
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Voodoo Doughnut, Southwest 3rd Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Caffe Vita
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Caffe Vita, Southwest 3rd Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Pine State Biscuits
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Pine State Biscuits Alberta, Northeast Alberta Street, Portland, OR, United States
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Gaufre Gourmet
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Gaufre Gourmet, Southwest 9th Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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KOi Fusion
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Washington Square, Southwest Washington Square Road, Portland, OR, United States
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Lardo
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Lardo, Southwest Washington Street, Portland, OR, United States
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Toro Bravo
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Toro Bravo, Northeast Russell Street, Portland, OR, United States
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Pok Pok
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Pok Pok, Southeast Division Street, Portland, OR, United States
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Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB)
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Hopworks Urban Brewery, Southeast Powell Boulevard, Portland, OR, United States
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De Ponte Cellars
Eat Your Way Through Portland
De Ponte Cellars, Northeast Archery Summit Road, Dayton, OR, United States
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Domaine Drouhin
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Dayton, OR, United States
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WillaKenzie Estate
Eat Your Way Through Portland
WillaKenzie Estate, Northeast Laughlin Road, Yamhill, OR, United States

 

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Portland: Keeping it Normal

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"Put a Bird on It" (from the IFC show Portlandia) - Bird wallpaper found in a Portland hotel - Portland, Oregon

“Put a Bird on It” (quote from the IFC show Portlandia) – Bird wallpaper found in a Portland hotel

 

In the Pacific Northwest region of the United States is the city of Portland, in the state of Oregon. If your only experience of Portland is the IFC show Portlandia you may have a skewed perception of the city. The city’s unofficial motto is “Keep Portland Weird” and Portlandia does a good job of depicting Portland as a weird city. Portlandia’s characters in various sketches range from cultist organic farmers to cranky feminist bookstore owners to those who put a bird on everything. Tourists who’ve watched the show Portlandia before heading to Portland for the first time may think they will enter a land of misfits once they arrive.

Pioneer Square - Portland, Oregon

Buildings surrounding Pioneer Square

The truth is first time visitors will find Portland quirky, charming, and nuanced. The city itself is clean with air that is refreshing, albeit sometimes breezy. Portland exudes scenery everywhere being surrounded by the best nature offers in this part of the world. Besides nature the city is a foodie paradise. Restaurants offer top-notch cuisine and a plethora of food trucks stationed throughout the city will make sure you will always have a sumptuous bite to eat. For lovers of food and nature Portland will find a special place in your heart.

Portlandia statue on the Portland Building - Portland, Oregon

Portlandia statue on the Portland Building

Beyond the food and nature Portland’s city itself does not boast many sights. This works for the city because travelers can just enjoy being in the city and not rushing off trying to knock of a laundry list of sights. Of the sights within the city tourists will want to visit the Portland Building. The statue in front of the Portland Building is named Portlandia. It is this statue’s name from which the Portlandia show borrows its name and the statue is seen in the show’s opening credits. Besides the Portland Building visitors can spend the day in trendy shopping areas such as those found in the Pearl District and Downtown. The streets in these areas are not bustling with crowds, and the wide avenues make for a nice stroll. While in Downtown visit Pioneer Courthouse Square. This urban park holds a variety of events and is a perfect place to people watch.

Pioneer Courthouse - Portland, Oregon

Pioneer Courthouse

To stay at a hotel in the Downtown district of Portland means walking access to the shopping areas around Pioneer Courthouse Square. You will be able to walk to various food truck stands within the city limits. Besides shopping and food within walking distance is Portland’s Chinatown and Washington Park. Within Washington Park you will find the International Rose Test Garden and the Portland Japanese Garden.

Chinatown Gates - Portland, Oregon

Chinatown Gates

To experience more of Portland and the surrounding landscape you will need to rent a car. A rental car will expand the number of restaurants available for you to try as many great restaurants are in the districts outside of Downtown. Having a rental car will allow you the freedom to explore nature spots accessible by car. Within driving distance are two waterfalls, Multnomah Falls and Wahkeena Falls. You can drive to the Vista House on Crown Point for scenic views of the Columbia River. Fans of wine will want to use that rental car to visit the various near by wineries.

Whatever you plan to do on your trip to Portland just remember, you are in the Pacific Northwest. If you travel to this region during the wintertime the weather will be low with a chance for snow. Even during the spring and summer times the weather may be brisk. Check the weather reports before you travel so your clothing choices won’t impede you enjoying your trip.

 

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Portland, Oregon

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Portland Building: 45.515663, -122.678500
Pearl District: 45.530209, -122.681204
Downtown, Portland: 45.513454, -122.680134
Pioneer Courthouse Square: 45.518300, -122.678905
Chinatown Gates: 45.523512, -122.674157
Washington Park: 45.512640, -122.712736
International Rose Garden: 45.518951, -122.705273
Portland Japanese Garden: 45.519136, -122.706780
Multnomah Falls: 45.576160, -122.115776
Wahkeena Falls: 45.574181, -122.127430
Vista House on Crown Point: 45.539579, -122.244446
Voodoo Doughnut ONE (original location): 45.522621, -122.673111
Caffe Vita: 45.522447, -122.672914
Pine State Biscuits: 45.558886, -122.642744
Gaufre Gourmet: 45.521057, -122.680316
KOi Fusion: 45.450419, -122.781197
Lardo: 45.522021, -122.683540
Toro Bravo: 45.540813, -122.663611
Pok Pok: 45.504565, -122.632159
Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB): 45.496893, -122.634884
De Ponte Cellars: 45.262715, -123.058269
Domaine Drouhin: 45.265540, -123.055634
WillaKenzie Estate: 45.360877, -123.137926
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Portland Building
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Portland Building, Portland, OR, United States
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Pearl District
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Pearl District, Portland, OR, United States
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Downtown, Portland
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Downtown, Portland, OR, United States
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Pioneer Courthouse Square
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland, OR, United States
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Chinatown Gates
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Chinatown Gates Portland, Northwest 4th Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Washington Park
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Washington Park, Portland, OR, United States
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International Rose Garden
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

International Rose Test Garden, Southwest Kingston Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Portland Japanese Garden
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Portland Japanese Garden, Southwest Kingston Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Multnomah Falls
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Multnomah Falls, Multnomah County, OR, United States
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Wahkeena Falls
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Wahkeena Falls, Multnomah County, OR, United States
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Vista House on Crown Point
Portland: Keeping it Normal
Natural Portland

Vista House, Historic Columbia River Highway, Corbett, OR, United States
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Voodoo Doughnut ONE (original location)
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Voodoo Doughnut, Southwest 3rd Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Caffe Vita
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Caffe Vita, Southwest 3rd Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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Pine State Biscuits
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Pine State Biscuits Alberta, Northeast Alberta Street, Portland, OR, United States
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Gaufre Gourmet
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Gaufre Gourmet, Southwest 9th Avenue, Portland, OR, United States
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KOi Fusion
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Washington Square, Southwest Washington Square Road, Portland, OR, United States
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Lardo
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Lardo, Southwest Washington Street, Portland, OR, United States
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Toro Bravo
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Toro Bravo, Northeast Russell Street, Portland, OR, United States
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Pok Pok
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Pok Pok, Southeast Division Street, Portland, OR, United States
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Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB)
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Hopworks Urban Brewery, Southeast Powell Boulevard, Portland, OR, United States
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De Ponte Cellars
Eat Your Way Through Portland
De Ponte Cellars, Northeast Archery Summit Road, Dayton, OR, United States
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Domaine Drouhin
Eat Your Way Through Portland
Domaine Drouhin Oregon, Dayton, OR, United States
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WillaKenzie Estate
Eat Your Way Through Portland
WillaKenzie Estate, Northeast Laughlin Road, Yamhill, OR, United States

 

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Sonoma Valley Wine Trek

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A nice alternative to Napa Valley is nearby Sonoma Valley. Not as congested as Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley can offer a more relaxed wine tasting experience. Highway 121 and Highway 12 are the main roads that will enable you to visit the wineries in this region. Listed below are the places worth visiting to make the most out of your time in Sonoma Valley.

Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards

Champagne caves at Gloria Ferrer Caves and Vineyards

Champagne caves at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards

As you make the drive to wine country you’ll notice a change in scenery and see less buildings and more vineyards. Although the view has changed your mind may not be prepared for the day’s events. A busy mind won’t be able to enjoy a day of wine tasting to the fullest. The best way to alter your mindset is to have your first stop be at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards. On Highway 121 this vineyard isn’t located next to other wineries, which gives it a sense of remoteness. Gloria Ferrer doesn’t offer traditional tastings (better known as flights). Instead, it offers visitors the choice of a variety of sparkling wines, white wines, and red wines purchased and sampled by the glass. You should order a glass of sparkling wine as most of the wineries in the region do not offer sparkling wine. Plus, Gloria Ferrer makes the best sparkling wine not called champagne. If you are ordering a glass of the sparkling wine try the Blanc de Blancs. The best part of Gloria Ferrer, besides their sparkling wine, is their outdoor terrace. The terrace offers views of sprawling vineyards and hillsides. As you sip your glass and enjoy the view you’ll notice none of the noises of the city. Before you know it you’re relaxed and ready for your day in wine country. If you are so inclined, Gloria Ferrer offers tours on how their wines are made and their champagne caves.

Cline Cellars

Cline Cellars Vineyard and Winery

Cline Cellars Vineyard and Winery

Cline Cellars has their tasting room on the first floor of a two-story building. The building appears to have been someone’s home in an earlier life. As such you feel right at home when visiting Cline Cellars. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable on the wines being offered. Two favorites to be sure to sample are the Cashmere White and the Lodi Zinfandel. The tasting room has a gift shop where you can shop for Cline specific merchandise and wine related items to take home. After you’ve completed your time in the tasting room walk around the grounds. You can capture nice photos of the vineyard lanes and a large pond with a fountain.

Jacuzzi Family Vineyards and The Olive Press

Statue at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards

Statue at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards

Across the street from Cline Cellars is their sister properties of Jacuzzi Family Vineyards and The Olive Press. If the name Jacuzzi conjures up images of pools and spas you are correct. Members of the same Jacuzzi family established the Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. A walk around the grounds gives you access to views of the vineyards and a fountain statue made in the Italian style. On the grounds is an event hall with wine casks lined up against the wall and more statues. Inside the tasting room you have two tasting options, wine or olive oil. Jacuzzi wines are top-notch. For white wine sample their Arneis and for red wines their Barbera, Montepulciano, and Aglianico. The tasting room includes a section reserved for The Olive Press. The Olive Press sells extra virgin olive oils, balsamic vinegar, and other condiments such as mustards, tapenade, herbs, and spices. Olive oils and balsamic vinegars are sold individually or pre-mixed in various tasty combinations. Visitors may taste the olive oils and balsamic vinegars on pieces of bread or crackers. Be sure to try the Arbequina Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the Fig Dark Balsamic Vinegar, and the combinations of Lime Olive Oil & Coconut Balsamic Vinegar. The Basil Parmesan Dipping oil is delicious. The Olive Press has a second location in Napa at the Oxbow Public Market.

 

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Sonoma

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Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards: 38.223579, -122.472183
Cline Cellars: 38.214360, -122.458272
Jacuzzi Family Vineyards: 38.214680, -122.453840
The Olive Press: 38.214664, -122.454012
The Olive Press: 38.301309, -122.281902
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Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards
Sonoma Valley Wine Trek
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, Sonoma, CA, United States
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Cline Cellars
Sonoma Valley Wine Trek
Cline Cellars, Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA, United States
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Jacuzzi Family Vineyards
Sonoma Valley Wine Trek
Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA, United States
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The Olive Press
Sonoma Valley Wine Trek
The Olive Press, Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA, United States
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The Olive Press
Sonoma Valley Wine Trek
The Olive Press, 1st Street, Napa, CA, United States

 

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Tips on Wine Tasting in Napa Valley

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It’s easy to spend your travel budget on wine tasting fees alone. This article offers tips on how to get more for your dollar when in Napa Valley.

The Tasting Fees

This is anecdotal but before the dot-com bubble of 1997-2000 if you were to visit Napa Valley wineries only offered free wine tastings. During the dot-com era the number of folks who moved to the Bay Area and had disposable income skyrocketed. They wanted to spend that money and Napa Valley was an easy hour to two-hour drive away. With this sudden influx of new visitors the wineries had to adjust their procedures and institute tasting fees. This allowed the winery recoup money lost on the wine being served in the tasting room. Even after the dot-com bubble burst the wineries kept the tasting fees.

There are wineries in the industry that have priced their tasting fees at $25 or higher per person. This tasting fee might garner a visitor tastings of five different wines with pours for each tasting being minimal. The quantity might equal one glass of wine. Mind you, a tasting need not mean a full glass of wine. Wine tasting is not to get drunk. You are wine tasting to see if you enjoy the wine or not. Yet these wineries are selling bottles of wine that cost less than or the same as the tasting fee. Proportionally the cost of wine tasting is too high. Additionally most wineries have stopped waiving the tasting fee if you buy a bottle of wine. If you and a friend buy a tasting fee and each buy a bottle of wine a single visit could cost a $100 per winery.

Of course, a tasting fee is understandable. The wineries can’t just give away their wines for free. It is an extensive production to make a bottle of wine. It takes years from the moment the vines grow the grapes to the time a wine bottle hits the shelves. Plus, many people are involved with the production of the wine. This includes the employees in the field, wine makers, and tasting room attendants. If every person who wine tasted bought a bottle of wine it’s possible tasting fees could stop. Except there exist individuals who go wine tasting with no intention of buying wine. Regrettably this practice of tasting fees hurts those visitors who are new to wine and those who love wine and want to try out different wines and wineries.

Those new to wine may find tasting fees to high and avoid ever tasting at wineries. This leads to wineries loosing potential customers and prevents a person from even finding out how much they may enjoy that winery’s wine. For long time wine drinkers that same high wine tasting fee may stop them from visiting a winery and that too is a lost consumer. My suggestion to wineries is that their tasting fees should not be more than half of the cheapest bottle of wine in the tasting flight. If someone will buy a bottle of wine you don’t need to comp the entire tasting fee, but you should give a percentage off the total sale. Rewarding customers is a good practice and could land you a consumer for life.

Internet research can help you find wineries with no tasting fee, a low tasting fee, or tasting fees that go towards buying a bottle of wine. If you have a winery you want to visit but don’t want to pay the high tasting fee, my suggestion is to skip the tasting room. Instead, buy a bottle of their wine out right. For example, pack yourself a picnic lunch. Go to Frank Family Vineyards, buy a bottle of their wine, and ask them to uncork it for you. Snag a spot at one of their picnic benches outside and you and your group can split the bottle while eating lunch. If you have a big group you can buy more than one bottle. You’ve gone from a small pour in a tasting center to savoring the wine in a relaxed setting.

Crowds

Regardless of which wineries you visit there will be crowds. The number of people visiting Napa Valley has increased over the past couple of decades. If you’re with a big group and you’re just there for a fun outing this may not be an issue. If you’re there only for wine tasting it can be annoying. You don’t want to struggle for a spot at the wine bar or be jostled while trying to sip your wine. The only way to avoid crowds is to visit Napa Valley during the off-peak season, or weekdays. Visit wineries the moment they open in the morning to avoid crowds. If you are visiting Napa Valley with a large-sized group try calling the wineries ahead of time to let them know when you will visit them. There are wineries that offer group rates, with discounts on tours of the winery or packaged deals that include wine pairings with food. There are wineries that have specific tastings areas for larger groups that you can reserve ahead of time.

Release Day Events

Another tip to get the most out of your dollar is to attend a winery’s release day event. There are wineries that offer one or two such events a year. There is an entrance fee that may appear steep but includes unlimited tastings plus hors d’oeuvres. The best part of these events is the chance to try higher end bottles of wine. The wineries are attempting to sell cases of newly released wine, including cases that can run upwards of over a hundred dollars a bottle. If you’ve never tried wine that expensive these events allow you to do so. A lot of people attend release day events, be sure to arrive as early as possible. Even though it’s crowded, these events are wonderful for a group outing. Release day events are held outside or in event halls, which means more space than if you were inside a tasting room. Wineries that put on great release day events are Silver Oak Cellars and Groth Vineyards & Winery. Check on-line for other wineries that may host such events.

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Napa Valley on a Budget

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Frank Family Vineyards: 38.559106, -122.521703
Silver Oak Cellars: 38.440849, -122.381457
Groth Vineyards & Winery: 38.449131, -122.379458
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Frank Family Vineyards
Tips on Wine Tasting in Napa Valley
Frank Family Vineyards, Larkmead Lane, Calistoga, CA, United States
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Silver Oak Cellars
Tips on Wine Tasting in Napa Valley
Silver Oak Cellars, Oakville Cross Road, Oakville, CA, United States
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Groth Vineyards & Winery
Tips on Wine Tasting in Napa Valley
Groth Vineyards & Winery, Oakville Cross Road, Oakville, CA, United States

 

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A Day in Napa Valley, Part Three

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Parts one and two of “A Day in Napa Valley” covered how to spend your morning and lunchtime while you traverse Highway 29 in Napa Valley’s wine country region. You’ve had breakfast, you’ve gone to wineries, eaten lunch, and been a tourist. It’s now time to complete your day in Napa Valley by visiting two more wineries.

Afternoon

Stop #6 – Charles Krug

After your lunch break you’ll continue your wine education by visiting the first winery in Napa Valley, Charles Krug Winery. Even though it’s the first winery in Napa Valley it never gets too crowded. The winery has an intimate tasting center hosted by a knowledgeable staff. You can expect great service while drinking fantastic red wines. As you sip away remember that you are drinking wine with its roots from the first winery in Napa Valley. This is where it all started.

Stop #7 – Sterling Vineyards

As your day exploring wine country comes to end why not finish as you started, soaking in the scenery. Enter Sterling Vineyards by heading along a driveway lined on both sides by vines and trees. After parking you’ll need to take Sterling’s aerial tramcars to access their tasting center. The tram offers views of Sterling’s grounds, including the vineyard and a pond. Sterling’s tasting center offers an outdoor terrace where you’ll be able to sit outside while tasting and enjoy views of Napa Valley. Use Sterling’s serene location to wrap up your day of wine tasting. Relax and take the time to absorb what you’ve experienced today.

 

Closing Thoughts

If you’ve never traveled to Napa Valley before then visiting the wineries listed in this three-part series gives you the chance at a unique opportunity. You’ll experience history and education as well as taste a variety of wines offered from the valley. Keep in mind though that the best part of Napa Valley is the sheer number of wineries in one location. This itinerary is in no way exhaustive of the opportunities available in Napa Valley. This itinerary allows you to have a guide for your first visit to Napa Valley.

After you are no longer a wine tasting rookie which winery to go to may still appear daunting but it’s part of the fun. If you drive by a winery that looks interesting to you just pull over for a visit. You’ll never go wrong because each visit to a winery is a chance for you to figure out what types of wines you enjoy and which you don’t.  Everyone’s tastes differ so to find out which wines you enjoy you just have to keep trying different wines. Remember to keep a list of the wines you do enjoy. Having a list allows you to notice trends in your wine preference as well as help you order wines at restaurants. Plus, you never know, you may find your favorite bottle of wine at a local supermarket back home.

Earlier Stops

Your day in Napa Valley is now complete. Read our related articles for more information on what else to do in Napa Valley. Click below to access the other articles in this series.

A Day in Napa Valley, Part One

A Day in Napa Valley, Part Two

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Napa Valley

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Bouchon Bakery: 38.402422, -122.361802
PlumpJack Winery: 38.455471, -122.374091
St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery: 38.455262, -122.414318
V. Sattui Winery: 38.488610, -122.448717
Napa Valley Sign: 38.427534, -122.394365
Charles Krug Winery : 38.518744, -122.480955
Sterling Vineyards: 38.569816, -122.545443
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Bouchon Bakery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part One
Bouchon Bakery, Washington Street, Yountville, CA, United States
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PlumpJack Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part One
PlumpJack Winery, Oakville Cross Road, Napa, CA, United States
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St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part One
St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery, Saint Helena Highway, Rutherford, CA, United States
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V. Sattui Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Two
V. Sattui Winery, White Lane, Saint Helena, CA, United States
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Napa Valley Sign
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Two
7610 St Helena Hwy, Napa, California, United States
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Charles Krug Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Three
Charles Krug Winery, Main Street, Saint Helena, CA, United States
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Sterling Vineyards
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Three
Sterling Winery, Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga, CA, United States

 

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A Day in Napa Valley, Part Two

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In part one of “A Day in Napa Valley” you started your journey through wine country. Your first stop was to have a breakfast of delicacies at Bouchon Bakery. After breakfast you eased into wine country living at PlumpJack Winery. Next you enhanced your wine education at St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery. Now that you’ve had a chance to visit a couple of wineries you’ll need to start pacing yourself on the amount of wine you’re consuming. That means it’s time for lunch.

Lunchtime

The biggest mistake one can make wine tasting is going from winery to winery without any breaks. Drinking a lot of wines in a row doesn’t allow you the chance to cleanse your palate. Soon the wines will just start tasting the same. Your tongue won’t know the difference between a Pinot Noir and a Riesling. You might fall victim to buying a bottle of wine you thought you enjoyed only to dislike it weeks later at home. To make sure this doesn’t happen you’ll want to refresh your palate with a nice hearty meal.

Stop #4 – V. Sattui Winery

 

V. Sattui Winery sign and picnic area

V. Sattui Winery sign

It’s time for lunch and as your afternoon will continue on Highway 29 it’s best to stick to that road for dining options. A good place to fill up your stomach is V. Sattui Winery. This spot is ideal for couples, families, and groups as V. Sattui has a variety of food items available. Next to their tasting center and wine shop is an expansive deli filled with fresh cheeses, deli meats, breads, pastas, salads, and more.   There’s something for every appetite. Another feature that makes V. Sattui a great stop is that the property has a large picnic area with tons of benches and large trees providing plenty of shade. Take your food purchases outside and savor the outdoors while you take a well-deserved wine country break.

V. Sattui Winery picnic area

V. Sattui Winery picnic area

Stop #5 – Napa Valley Welcome Sign

 

Napa Valley Welcome Sign

Napa Valley Welcome Sign

After lunch you’ll have one more stop before going to your next winery. Beyond the wineries Napa Valley doesn’t have very many traditional tourist sites as you might find in other locations. The wineries really are the sites but there is one stop that makes for a postcard photograph. The Napa Valley Sign welcomes visitors to the beautiful region with a picturesque background of hills and vines. There isn’t a parking lot near the sign. A dirt path runs in front of the sign that allows multiple cars to park next to the sign. The easiest way to find the location is by entering in the longitude-latitude coordinates (38°25’38″N 122°23’41″W) into your map search engine. Or you can use the following address: 7610 St Helena Highway, Napa, California.

Next Stop – More wine

After lunch and a tourist stop, you’re off to two more wineries. Check out part three of “A Day in Napa Valley” for where your will end your day.

A Day in Napa Valley, Part One

A Day in Napa Valley, Part Three

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Napa Valley

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Bouchon Bakery: 38.402422, -122.361802
PlumpJack Winery: 38.455471, -122.374091
St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery: 38.455262, -122.414318
V. Sattui Winery: 38.488610, -122.448717
Napa Valley Sign: 38.427534, -122.394365
Charles Krug Winery : 38.518744, -122.480955
Sterling Vineyards: 38.569816, -122.545443
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Bouchon Bakery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part One
Bouchon Bakery, Washington Street, Yountville, CA, United States
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PlumpJack Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part One
PlumpJack Winery, Oakville Cross Road, Napa, CA, United States
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St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part One
St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery, Saint Helena Highway, Rutherford, CA, United States
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V. Sattui Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Two
V. Sattui Winery, White Lane, Saint Helena, CA, United States
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Napa Valley Sign
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Two
7610 St Helena Hwy, Napa, California, United States
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Charles Krug Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Three
Charles Krug Winery, Main Street, Saint Helena, CA, United States
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Sterling Vineyards
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Three
Sterling Winery, Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga, CA, United States

 

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A Day in Napa Valley, Part One

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Trying to plan a day in Napa Valley’s wine country can be tricky. There are many wineries in the region and it is impossible to visit all of them in one day. Not to mention disastrous for your liver. Your aim in visiting wineries shouldn’t be to overly imbibe. The goal is to understand the flavors and different varieties of wines available. To prevent palate overload visit three or four wineries in one day. A perfect day in wine country mixes relaxation, scenery, eating, and wine tasting. “A Day in Napa Valley” is a three-part series that will give you a complete itinerary for a day in Napa.

Morning

To reach Napa Valley, you will find yourself on Highway 29, the main artery running through the region. You can use Highway 29 to reach the various locations listed in this guide. Or if you prefer you can use back roads, which offer closer views of the picturesque hills and vineyards.

Stop #1 – Bouchon Bakery

Bouchon Bakery Macaroons

Macaroons from Bouchon Bakery

Before your first sip of wine you will stop off at Bouchon Bakery for breakfast. The bakery is run by Chef Thomas Keller and is in Yountville. Bouchon Bakery is popular so if you are line averse be sure to arrive when the bakery opens its doors. If upon arriving there is a line do not let that deter you. The good folks working at the counter move quickly and efficiently. Plus the wait in line just allows you more time to decide which pastries to buy. If you are having trouble deciding, the macaroons are delicious. The macaroons come in multiple flavors so don’t be shy and buy a couple variations to try.

Stop #2 – PlumpJack Winery

With your belly content off of Bouchon’s delicacies you are set to begin your day of wine tasting. Your first winery to visit will be PlumpJack Winery. The winery isn’t located directly on Highway 29 but tucked away on Oakville Cross Road. Set off from what can be a busy highway makes PlumpJack Winery a great place to settle into the flow of wine country living. The grounds are quiet and the tasting room is quaint and homey. At first glance PlumpJack might appear to be a small time winery but it packs big time wines. Be sure to sample their Chardonnay, a bold buttery wine that will leave you wanting more.

Stop #3 – St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery

Grapevine tasting

Grapevine tasting at St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery

Your next stop is St.Supéry Vineyards & Winery. St.Supéry offers a variety of clean crisp wines. Their moscato in particular is a light fruity dessert wine that is so popular it has its own wine club. The St.Supéry tasting center is modern and airy with comfy couches just begging to be sat on while wine tasting. What sets St.Supéry apart is that it offers the opportunity for you to expand on your wine education. When grapes are in season St.Supéry has a section of vines next to the tasting center that the public may pick grapes off of and taste. The vines are labeled so you will know which grapes are used to make particular wines. Grab a red grape from a vine labeled Cabernet. Gently bite into the grape and while tasting the juices of the grape imagine just how this little grape would have transformed into a red wine. This is a great way to experience the wine making process from where it initially begins.

Grapes on Vine

Grapes on vine at St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery

Next Stop – Lunch, wine, and more

After visits to two wineries it’s time for lunch. Be sure to read part two of “A Day in Napa Valley” for how your day will continue!

A Day in Napa Valley, Part Two

A Day in Napa Valley, Part Three

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Napa Valley

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Bouchon Bakery: 38.402422, -122.361802
PlumpJack Winery: 38.455471, -122.374091
St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery: 38.455262, -122.414318
V. Sattui Winery: 38.488610, -122.448717
Napa Valley Sign: 38.427534, -122.394365
Charles Krug Winery : 38.518744, -122.480955
Sterling Vineyards: 38.569816, -122.545443
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Bouchon Bakery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part One
Bouchon Bakery, Washington Street, Yountville, CA, United States
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PlumpJack Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part One
PlumpJack Winery, Oakville Cross Road, Napa, CA, United States
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St. Supéry Vineyards & Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part One
St. Supéry Estate Vineyards & Winery, Saint Helena Highway, Rutherford, CA, United States
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V. Sattui Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Two
V. Sattui Winery, White Lane, Saint Helena, CA, United States
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Napa Valley Sign
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Two
7610 St Helena Hwy, Napa, California, United States
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Charles Krug Winery
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Three
Charles Krug Winery, Main Street, Saint Helena, CA, United States
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Sterling Vineyards
A Day in Napa Valley, Part Three
Sterling Winery, Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga, CA, United States

 

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