Along with the excitement and anticipation of a “milestone” 30th birthday, comes the stress and influx of societal pressure due to long standing narratives…Are you dating anyone yet? Planning to have kids one day? Napa-No-Way! Save your money and energy and hit the wine trail! Napa Valley in Northern California is the perfect place for a 30th birthday celebration. Sipping wine among vineyards in the sunshine, sporting trendy fits, and visiting classy establishments are what a girl wants at this stage in her life.
Though the destination is perfect for this “milestone” birthday trip, pulling off a successful “Sturdy 30” in the midst of a pandemic was not easy! Here’s what you can expect when traveling to Napa Valley right now and a few tips to avoid any mishaps or birthday tears.
Make a Rez ASAP
Make winery reservations a month or more in advance! Some wineries have yet to re-open and the ones that are open are operating on limited capacity with reservations required. The State of California is moving more slowly on re-opening than some other states. Napa Valley has it’s own set of guidelines for the wineries to follow which also vary from county to county. Some wineries only offered tastings and we were not allowed to order another glass after the tasting. However, bottles were available for purchase to take with you. You can expect to spend $25 – $45 per person, per tasting.
Keep It Tight
Traveling to Napa Valley with a group larger than six people, while COVID restrictions are still in place, is possible but complicated. With reservations capped at six people, our group of eight had to make double reservations at every winery. Nine out of the 10 wineries we visited had no issue with this as long as we stayed at our separate tables, but one winery did turn us away for simply knowing each other, even though we had two reservations. In some cases we had the two reservations 30 minutes to an hour apart when we could not get them at the same time or even had to split up at different wineries due to availability. Some of the wineries required the group to pay at the time of booking. We were able to manage this with the group and keep track of expenditures through an app called SplitWise.
Surprising to me was the diversity in the style and vibe of the wineries. For a more contemporary scene, The Prisoner Wine Company offers retro-futuristic architecture with succulent planted wall art and lush gardens. For a royal experience, be sure to visit the Domaine Carneros French-inspired chateau with its grand staircase and expansive outdoor terrace. For a “rad” wine experience, check out Tank Garage Winery, literally a garage lining the street of downtown Calistoga. Discover another dimension in Raymond Vineyard’s Crystal Cellar of stainless steel walls, crystal chandeliers, and edgy decor. A shoutout goes to Beringer Vineyards, Chateau Montelena, and Cosentino Winery for their great atmosphere and awesome service!
Downtown Napa has some great bars and restaurants for every taste, occasion, and budget. For a panoramic valley view, hit up the Sky & Vine Rooftop Bar above the Archer Hotel. Then cap out the night at Jam Cellars for an intimate crowd and some live music.
Not So Sturdy Hack
If you haven’t quite made it to “financially sturdy” 30, consider RiverPointe Napa Valley Resort. This quaint cottage resort offers budget accommodations, full kitchen, community pool, and personal deck areas with patio furniture for dining and socializing al fresco. With a Walmart down the street, this made it easy and affordable to cook our own breakfast in the cottage and pack a sack lunch for the day while winery hopping.
If you find yourself getting wined-out and looking for something different, consider a day trip to San Francisco and check out Fisherman’s Wharf for some good eats, shopping, and sightseeing tours. Another option about an hour and a half drive away from downtown Napa is Muir Woods. Experience the hiking trails beneath the towering redwood trees.
The endless options Napa Valley holds will ensure you enter this phase of your life with the adulting adventures you seek and cheers to new beginnings.