The June issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine includes a list of its editors and writers’ 55 favorite things to do in the Napa Valley. The list supposedly consists of “…activities and destinations that might fly under the guidebook readerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s radar.” After reading the article and reviewing the list, we beg to differ.
Now how they came up with the number 55 is completely beyond us, and while there are some interesting places included, there are some oversights in our opinion as well. Let’s examine, shall we?
The first surprise (particularly when talking about ‘under the radar’ places) was Castello di Amorosa–the giant castle winery on the western hills of the valley in Calistoga. You’ll recall we’ve written about it several times before. Here’s what Wine Enthusiast had to say:
Daryl SattuiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Castello di Amorosa (707.942.8200; www.castellodiamorosa.com) is an incredible Tuscan-style castle; the towers and ramparts look across the Valley at SterlingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Cretan monastery. There are those who will see it as a step toward Disneyfication, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s really the inevitable culmination of the trend that began with the Beringer Brothers building a Rhine House to remind them of their homeland.
Other places on Wine Enthusiast’s list that we were shocked to learn might not be included in a typical Napa Valley guidebook include Robert Mondavi and Baroness Philippine de Rothschild’s Opus One (home of the $25 tasting), the super pricey Villagio Inn & Spa in Yountville, Sterling Vineyards and its gondola and the Napa Valley Wine Train. Just looking at these few places alone, we couldn’t think of more on-the-beaten-path places to visit here in the valley!
We did agree with the inclusion of the Vintner’s Golf Club in Yountville. The write-up says:
‘A nine-hole course?’ Yes, and at 2,929 yards, a short one at that. But regardless of length, the VintnerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Golf Club in Yountville is paradise to all handicaps. To the west youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got the Mayacamas; to the east youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got the Vaca Range. All around youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got world-class vineyards. Be prepared for fast, subtle greens and holes that are more challenging than their yardage would indicate.
That said, for our money we love the Chardonnay Golf Club, which has 27 holes on three separate 9-hole courses (Lakes, Meadows and Vineyard) and challenges players with numerous elevation changes. The best time to visit is in the fall, when you’ll literally tee off and play between rows and rows of crimson, orange and yellow grapevines.
What do you think of Wine Enthusiast’s list? What are your favorite under-the-radar things to do in the valley?