The Baller’s Guide to Napa Valley: Most Expensive Tasting Menu to VIP Wine Tasting

View from Poetry Inn by Caroline on Crack
View from Poetry Inn by Caroline on Crack

What ballers wake up to in Napa Valley.

OK, yes, Napa is an expensive place to visit. Even staying at a Best Western in downtown Napa can be a $300-a-night affair! But that’s not too surprising considering Napa is touted as the premier wine region of California. Our entire state has over 700 miles of wine country and 107 AVAs, but everyone the world over always thinks of Napa first when considering California wine.

It’s definitely the ideal place to splurge. You’re going to want to wake up in the morning in your luxury suite overlooking the valley and plan for a day of VIP tastings, shuttled from one fabulous winery to the next in a Mercedes. And then go to your dinner at a James Beard award-winning restaurant. I mean, but of course.

So here’s your list just for that purpose: basically how to roll like a baller in Napa. It’s definitely a price tier reserved for caviar dreams. Full disclosure, I was able to sample some of this on a hosted tour. I love my life.

Stay in Poetry Inn’s Robert Louis Stevenson suite: This intimate hillside inn is actually the site of many a marriage proposal. Some candles, that view and you’ll say yes to anything. And the inn’s RLS suite is the most deluxe one in the place. At 1,450 square feet, it’s the largest of the five rooms. Located on the top floor, you wake up in that four poster nest of Italian linens and just look down at Stags Leap district below. Absolutely gorgeous. Also best enjoyed with wine glass in hand while taking it all in from the wrap-around deck. And yeah, you’ll be tempted to just hang out here all day, either in that deep soaking tub or sunk into an armchair by the wood-burning fireplace. The room rate ranges from $1,070 (low season weekday) to $1,950 (high season weekend) a night. But, hey, it comes with its own private entrance.

VIP Tasting at Cliff Lede Vineyards Backstage: In keeping in theme with this rock-and-roll winery, Backstage is what Cliff Lede Vineyards calls its reservations-only tasting room. Those with a Backstage pass get to sip wines — limited production and library wines — that are not available in the public tasting room. This room even comes with its own rotating art exhibit, it’s that fancy. Just check the site for the current exhibit. Tastings here are Friday through Sunday, $45 a person or $35 if you’re a wine club member.

Dinner at The Restaurant at Meadowood: End the day with a wine dinner at this James Beard award-winning restaurant in St. Helena. It’s one of only four California restaurants that holds three Michelin stars. They offer two menus but you’ll want to pick the $500-a-person Counter Menu (20-plus courses!) paired with the wine experience. It’s said to be the most expensive printed menu in all of California. (The regular tasting menu is $225 a person.) Enjoy dinner at the Chef’s Counter or in the dining room. But you’re going to want to sit at the Chef’s Counter, naturally the best seat in the house.

For the Budget Baller

Now for good measure, here’s how to do Napa on a budget. Well, as much as a budget price as can exist in Napa. Grab sandwiches at Oakville Grocery and enjoy it on the back patio. And book a stay at the Farmhouse at Inman Family Winery. At $695 for two nights it can be a bargain considering it fits six people.

More photos of my own trip to Napa.

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