3 Days In Napa! Day Three – Ride In My Beautiful Balloon!By Patrice Majorie | May 24, 2018 | Travel
Join Patrice on her last day in Napa, Calif.
On my third day, I got a little adventurous and thanks to the lovely people at Napa Valley Balloons, I was able to book my first Hot Air Balloon ride – and I am so glad that I did! The day started at 4:45 a.m. since precheck is at 6:30a at Domaine Chandon. Yeah, I know!
Once on location, we all gathered for a pre-flight orientation and light breakfast. We then drove with our pilots about five minutes up the road where the balloons take off. There were about eight of us in the balloon – spacious enough so that we all had elbow room and felt comfortable.
While in the air, you can take pictures and video on cameras and cell phones as much as you like. The flight pilot also takes a beautiful group photo while up in the air and they send the photos to you via email as soon as you leave for the day.
All of the flights are about 45 minutes to an hour, which is a good amount of time to watch the sunrise and really take on the beauty of Napa from up in the sky. Once on land again, everyone boarded the van to head back to Domaine Chandon for a hot buffet breakfast with coffee, tea and of course, mimosas. There we had more opportunity to chat with others about the flight experience. With the day starting so early, by the time we were back at the hotel it wasn’t even noon yet with plenty of time to nap and prepare for my scheduled evening adventures.
That evening, Bob Magnani of O’Connell Family Wines scheduled three tastings, all located in downtown Napa. My hotel, River Terrace Inn was the perfect location to easily access downtown attractions and wineries. Since we were so close, we took a 5-minute UBER to the first tasting and walked to the others from there as all three locations are within walking distance.
The first visit was Acumen Wine, followed by Riverhouse by Bespoke Collection. Both Acumen and Riverhouse have beautiful artwork decorating their walls which help create a unique, inspiring and modern vibe to the tasting experience.
We then met with Bob and Chef Jonathan Jones at O’Connell Family Wines.
There’s certainly a difference between having wine tastings with a group or tour versus tasting alone. A one-on-one tasting allows more opportunity for a personal interaction with the whoever is your tour guide or host. Acumen and O’Connell also prepared food pairings with each wine tasting which was an added bonus to complete the experience. In fact, at O’Connell family wines, we personally met chef Jonathan and he brought us a different dish to try to pair with each of the wines that we tasted, starting with their homemade popcorn and ending with a delicious assortment of chocolates. He also sent me recipes for all the sample plates he made so that I could try to prepare them at home.
I loved all of the food he made us, but the two dishes that stood out as something I want to try at home was a goat cheese crostini with crusted almonds…
…and roasted cauliflower and cashew smear! O’Connell is unique in that not only does this company grow their wines, but they also expanded to provide products for your home and spa (kitchen, bath & air refreshers), kitchen (oils and seasonings) and pets.
While in Napa I stayed at a fabulous boutique hotel, River Terrace Inn, a Nobel House Hotel. This boutique Napa Valley hotel is located perfectly in downtown Napa. The architecture of the building is stunning, modern and quaint. It sits alongside a river with an adjacent trail to walk or bike ride, as they offer cruiser bikes to ride any time of the day!
I would highly recommend booking your nights here because the location is perfect – absolutely no complaints! They take pride in providing great service and if you’re like me, the boutique vibe makes you feel like you’re at home.
Inside the hotel is ALBA, their on-site restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Guests can dine inside or outside with fire pits available if it gets chilly. On my final evening in Napa, I made a reservation at ALBA for dinner and had the most amazing meal – crab cakes and lobster mac-n-cheese for appetizers; salmon and potatoes for the entree and hot lava cake and beignets for dessert. As expected, their dining service was excellent! A couple times during dinner, the manager came to speak with us just to make sure we were enjoying our experience. River Terrace was a perfect choice for my lodging and I can’t wait to come back in the summer.
Three days in Napa has been fantastic – but I definitely need more time to really take it in! I plan to visit some of the wineries closer to Calistoga! Until next time, Napa!!
Carpe Diem xx,
Read Part I of 3 Days In Napa – Getting To Wine Country!
Read Part II of 3 Days In Napa – Riding the Wine Train!
See more Napa photos on our DivaGals FB page!