Spawling Napa Valley offers acres of verdant land, popular wineries, restaurants, and hotels — a lot to take on for a quick visit. Recently I spent time along the Silverado Trail in just a six-mile stretch from Napa to Yountville. I tasted my way from one end to the other, including an indulgent food and wine pairing and resort pampering.
Beginning as a trail in 1852, Silverado was used as a route for mining traffic and later became the first important road from Napa to Calistoga.
Silverado Resort and Spa is set on 120 acres just east of the Silverado Trail on Atlas Peak Road. Land grants date back to 1850, with the original mansion completed in the 1870s. Nestled among towering trees, adjacent to two championship golf courses, and near residential and guest properties, the stately mansion today houses public gathering places (including the lobby, bar and dining areas, pro shop, and more).
I stayed in a junior suite with indoor and outdoor seating areas, fireplace, kitchenette, and a good-sized shower and dressing/bathroom area. The room is designed with clean modern lines and provides easy access to the resort’s many amenities (800-532-0500, silveradoresort.com).
PLAY & SHOP
The Silverado Trail is known for the many wineries that line its path. I started in the southern-most end (across the trail from the resort) at Luna Vineyards in the Oak Knoll AVA. Built 20 years ago, it was the first winery on the trail. The Tuscan atmosphere and décor and intimacy of the tasting salon add to a European feel. The larger tasting room has an expansive wood bar and exposed beams, and a striking tile floor.
Since my visit, the winery has begun an alfresco lunch consisting of a five-course food and wine pairing, a barrel tasting, and a tasting in the Reserve Room accompanied by an antipasti platter. Favorites among the wines I tasted are these black labels: The 2013 “Bubbles,” the 2014 Sangiovese Riserva, and the Club member-only Canto Super Tuscan blend (707-255-2474, lunavineyards.com).
The certified organic and biodynamic Robert Sinskey Vineyards (RSV) is just up the Silverado Trail. They offer several food and wine experiences meant to enhance your visit to a property full of fruit trees, bee hives, vegetable gardens, sheep, and of course, vines. I chose the “Eat Drink RSV,” joining other guests around a communal table on the patio to indulge in seasonal bites from the chef paired with the perfect wine.
We started tasting the 2013 Los Carneros Pinot Blanc and the 2014 Abraxas (Vin de Terrior, Scintilla Sonoma Vineyard, Los Carneros) paired with a fava bean, mint, and ricotta salad and pâté served with Abraxas mustard. The second course included smoked duck crostini with foraged mushrooms; baby beets with crème fraîche and dukkah; and a rice, beans, and garden kale pot with house pancetta paired with these Pinot Noirs: a 2103 Los Carneros and 2012 Three Amigos Vineyards, Los Carneros, Napa. The final course matched the 2012 POV Los Carneros with several lamb servings and a Spanish tortilla (707-944-9090, robertsinskey.com).
At Pine Ridge, south on Silverado, it’s possible to tour the caves and taste their wines in the company of other visitors. Start in the vineyard, then walk through the production facilities, and end with a cheese and wine pairing in an expansive cave. I tasted these 2013 Cabernet Sauvignons: Rutherford paired with Manchego and Stags Leap paired with St. André. The 2014 Oakville Cab was paired with the French Agour Petit Brebis (800-575-9777, pineridgevineyards.com).
The Spa at the Silverado Resort is a welcome oasis any time. Enjoy the sauna, steam, and Jacuzzi as part of your pampering. I chose the Silverado massage that combines aromatherapy with deep tissue work. Needless to say, it’s heaven. If more is better, choose from mani/pedis, facials, haircuts, or a rose mud wrap, among other treatments. (800-532-0500, silveradoresort.com/spa).
The 120-acre Silverado Resort also includes two golf courses, multiple tennis courts, bocce ball courts, a swimming pool, and numerous bike and hiking trails.
Even while traveling, it’s often nice to stay at the hotel for meals. That’s where the Silverado Market & Bakery at the resort fits the bill. Open from first thing in the morning until early evening, it features casual outdoor seating around a fire pit. The market is full of sandwiches, salads, cheese, and other items, often with gluten-free options available. Savor scones, muffins, bread, cookies, and more from several Napa bakeries, including the Pastry Kitchen at Silverado. You’ll also find gourmet groceries and lots of options for wine and beer, as well as Starbucks coffee (800-532-0500, silveradoresort.com/dining/silverado-market-bakery).
Visit Napa Valley: Find a schedule of cooking classes, market tours, summer concerts, and more at visitnapavalley.com
Silverado Trail Wineries Association: silveradotrail.com
Napa Valley Vintners: napavintners.com
Farther up the Trail and Beyond
Discover Titus Vineyards (2971 Silverado Trail North, St. Helena, 707-963-3235, titusvineyards.com). Brothers Eric and Phillip have recently opened their new tasting room, an open-air building in the middle of their estate vineyards. Eric is the managing partner overseeing the overall operation and Phillip is the renowned master winemaker serving as mentor to his Titus’ vintner team.
Titus serves a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, a zesty Zinfandel, plus a variety of other outstanding Bordeaux varietals: Merlot, Reserve and Napa Cabernets, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. The not-to-miss taste is the 2013 Reserve Cabernet.
Another new destination is Maxville Lake Winery (4105 Chiles Pope Valley Road, St. Helena, 707-965-9376, maxvillelakewines.com). Located in the Chiles Valley, surrounded by 1,000 acres of protected land by the Napa Valley Land Trust, this winery is off the beaten track, but worth the effort. An open-air tasting room features sweeping views of the winery’s lake.
The French-born executive winemaker Camille Benitah boasts quality by focusing on fermenting and aging in French oak barrels to produce a Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Sirah.
— K. Majer