Hiking and wine tasting

Hiking and wine tasting on a budget in Napa Valley

Day 2 budget

After breakfast, we headed out to Bothe-Napa Valley State Park ($4 parking fee) and walked to nearby Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park ($3 each). Built in 1846, the mill processed flour and cornmeal back in the valley's early days. We had come full circle ― from the pinnacle of food preparation at the CIA to this 36-foot wheat-grinding waterwheel.Our biggest indulgence of the weekend was lunch at Martini House in St. Helena. We'd read the buzz about this Pat Kuleto restaurant, and the place was just as gorgeous as we'd imagined, with a garden patio, woodsy Craftsman interior, and a massive driftwood chandelier. We sat downstairs, next to the bar, and ordered wine, soups, and a cheese plate to share. It was a leisurely, decadent meal for $52.26 ― a pretty penny to be sure, but a lot less than dinner here would have cost.

Our palates whetted, we headed out for an afternoon of free wine tasting. We started with white Zinfandel at Sutter Home Winery, and admired the garden as well. Then we joined a group of tourists to sample Chardonnay at V. Sattui Winery. Finally, we savored a deliciously rich Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon at Raymond Vineyard & Cellar, a small winery, using a coupon for a free tasting from the complimentary Wine Country This Week.

Three sets of tastings wore us out. We wanted a nap, but we continued south to the city of Napa for dinner at Zuzu Tapas & Wine Bar. The year-old eatery has drawn raves for its tasty menu and lively ambience― justified praise, we found out, for a dinner costing only $42.64. After dinner, we hopped on the Downtown Trolley for a free narrated tour of Napa.

Day two
($164 in pocket)

Complimentary breakfast at the motel: FREE

Hiking under Douglas firs and black oaks on the History Trail to learn how an old grist mill operated in 1846: $10

Indulgent lunch and a glass of wine in the bar at Martini House: $52

Tastings at three wineries, including the ivy-covered stone and timber building of V. Sattui: FREE

Tapas dinner, including mussels, a Spanish tortilla, anchovies, and ceviche, plus sangria, at Zuzu: $43

Trolley ride through Napa: FREE

$59 remaining