Insider Guide: Napa Valley, California
How can you be sure to avoid the tourist traps in Napa Valley? Ask a couple of vintners where they like to eat, drink, shop, and explore close to home.
Sunset’s Insider Guide series highlights seasonal diversions and secret travel tips from local experts. Follow along as we learn where to eat, drink, stay, and shop.
Meet the insiders: Naoko and Maya Dalla Valle, Dalla Valle Vineyards
If you love Napa Valley wine, you may already know about a decades-old vineyard perched in the eastern hills of Oakville. Founded in 1986, Dalla Valle Vineyards produces Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, all made with love and precision by mother-daughter duo Naoko (proprietor) and Maya Dalla Valle (winemaker and director). With harvest in full swing, we asked the pair for their favorite spots in the California wine region.
Stanly Ranch has a “lavender pool where you can spend the day sipping wine and relaxing in the sun,” says Maya. “Its modern farmhouse vibe really captures the essence of Napa Valley.” Auberge du Soleil is in a “secluded location with stunning vineyard views; a highlight is definitely the Mediterranean-inspired, Michelin-starred restaurant.” Maya also loves Solage Resort & Spa. “It is so peaceful and feels like a true resort getaway.”
Elysewalker “offers a mix of super chic clothing and accessories and affordable finds,” Maya says. “Carter and Co is a ceramic-dinnerware store with the most beautiful home pieces. For fellow outdoor lovers, Sportago is my go-to for hiking gear.” Find local wines at Bay Grape, which “doubles as a wine bar.”
TORC is one of Naoko’s favorites. “Chef Sean O’Toole‘s food is fabulous and pairs well with our wines. I highly recommend the Sierra morel mushroom tortellini. Press, Charter Oak, and Bistro Don Giovanni are also wonderful.”
“Cadet is in downtown Napa and a go-to late-night spot, known for its fun and cozy ambiance,” Maya says. “They offer a range of wines, from Napa to French reds and sparkling. Valley bar and bottle shop is a restaurant, natural wine bar, and bottle shop all in one. I like how versatile the setting is, and their food is so fresh.”
For a one-of-a-kind way to experience Napa Valley’s stunning views and scenery, Maya recommends going for a hike up either Oat Hill Mine Trail or Rector Creek. “The vertical incline is totally worth it for the views,” says Maya. “But for a day of relaxation, it’s always a treat to do a spa treatment at The Spa at Meadowood.”