Wine Enthusiast comes up with 55 not-so ‘under the radar’ things to do in Napa Valley

by TrevR on June 4, 2007

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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 reader’s radar.” After reading the article and reviewing the list, we beg to differ. Wine Enthusiast List of 55 Napa Valley Faves

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 Sattui’s Castello di Amorosa (707.942.8200; is an incredible Tuscan-style castle; the towers and ramparts look across the Valley at Sterling’s Cretan monastery. There are those who will see it as a step toward Disneyfication, but it’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 Vintner’s Golf Club in Yountville is paradise to all handicaps. To the west you’ve got the Mayacamas; to the east you’ve got the Vaca Range. All around you’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?

[techtags: Napa, Napa Valley, Wine Enthusiast, Castello di Amorosa, Opus One, Villagio Inn and Spa, Sterling Vineyards, Napa Valley Wine Train, Chardonnay Golf Club]

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About the Author

has written 723 posts on The Cork Board. He was born and aged in the Napa Valley and has a passion for wine, writing and social media, which led him to co-found this blog in early 2007. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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