Last year Steve and I celebrated our anniversary with a weekend trip to the Napa valley. We are not drinkers so I planned a weekend getaway in the Napa Valley without the typical vineyard tours most people go to Napa for.
Day 1 – Drive to Calistoga and spend the afternoon at the Old Faithful Geyser of California. Enjoy a farm-to-table dinner at Quivira Vineyards and Winery in Healdsburg. Then spend the night camping at the Bothe-Napa Valley State Park campground.
Day 2 – Take a short trail around the campsite in the morning. Drive to Yountville and have lunch at Bouchon Bakery before heading back home.
Old Faithful Geyser of California
There are only three geysers in the world that are designated “old faithful”, meaning it erupts at a regular interval. Every few minutes the water shoots out from the ground, although the intensity and duration vary each time,. There’s a picnic area in front of the geyser so you can enjoy your packed lunch and wait for the perfect geyser to snap a picture. On the side, there are a few enclosures with different animals. Great for family outing and for kids to hang around.
Quivira Vinyards and Winery
I have always wanted to try a farm-to-table event and was eyeing the Outstanding in the Field events for a few years. However, given that I am not a drinker, it was hard to justify spending that much money on a dinner pairing water or soda. So when I found out that Quivira Vinyards and Winery were hosting farm-to-table dinners during the summer around our anniversary date, I quickly made the reservation. Their price is much more reasonable and I’ve read some good reviews about the dinners. They were very accommodating when I requested non-alcohol beverage, offering sparkling apple cider instead and even made my dessert alcohol-free. I was surprised they were not offended for my request, given this is a winery and they mainly sell alcohol!
Before the dinner, we were served hors d’oeuvres and Rose (apply cider for me). The table was set in the courtyard among the vegetable garden and the chicken coop. We were given a tour of the garden and the winery, and learned so much from the master gardener and the winemaker. We learned about the use of biodynamic method of farming in the vegetable garden, and also learned about how the wines were made. Steve even got to enjoy a glass of wine straight from the barrel! It was also interesting to know that Quivira specializes in Rose, Grenache, and Zinfandel.
There was about 15 guests attending the dinner, and surprisingly, we were the youngest in the whole group! Dinner was prepared by chef Jeff Mall of Zin Restaurant located in Healdsburg. Some of the ingredients were straight from the garden! One thing I love about the dinner was that we were joined by the owners of the winery (they sat right across from us!), the master gardener, the winemaker, and the chef (when he was done cooking, of course!). There was a live band performing while we ate, and at each course, the winemaker gave a mini lesson on the wine being served.
It was such a great experience to learn about food and wine, and to talk to the owners about how they started and why they chose to make the wines that they offer. I would totally recommend anyone who wants to have a one-of-a-kind dinner experience in the Napa Valley!
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park Campground
We set up our tent before we headed to Headsburg for dinner, while it was still daytime. There wasn’t much of a view from our campsite, but it was quiet and a trail was close by.
There are plenty of campsites and trails to explore in the park. The campground accommodates quite a few people, and there were a lot of campers on the weekend that we stayed there. We were far away from the large campsites so it was pretty quiet; however, we did walk by the larger campsites the next morning, there were a lot of people and were much noisier. So definitely make sure you’re picking a good spot if you enjoy being quiet.
And a trip to the Napa Valley is incomplete without going to Yountville. We stopped by the Bouchon Bakery to get some pastries for lunch, and a couple macarons to take home!
It was a great anniversary celebration with great foods while spending some time in the nature. Even though the Napa Valley has tons of vinyards, it also has a lot of natural scenery to offer that are as good as the wines.
More information on the places we visited and the surrounding sightseeing attractions:
Old Faithful Geyser of California
There is an admission fee to enter the area, and except the geyser, there is really nothing much to see, unless you really enjoy watching the animals (which I guess is not the whole point of going there). I suggest bringing some snacks or a packed lunch and just sit at the picnic area while waiting for the geyser.
Visit the Old Faithful website for more info.
The Petrified Forest
Redwood trees that were fossilized when a volcano northeast of Calistoga erupted several million years ago. Covered in volanic ash, the trees turned into stone, creating the petrified redwood trees. There are both docent-led and self-guided tours available.
Visit the Petrified Forest website for more info.
Old Pioneer Cemetery
Located next to the picnic area of the Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, the cemetery is a resting place for a lot of the original residents of Napa.
Visit the City of Calistoga website for more info.
Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park
The Mill was built in 1846 to grind grains and corns, and was in use until the 1900s. The water-powered mill has been restored, and visitors can see the miller grinding grain into Bale Mill flours and meals.
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park
The campground can be noisy if you’re near the bigger groups. If you enjoy being quiet, try to pick a location with fewer campsites.
There are several trails in the park.
- Ritchey Canyon Trail – 4 mile one-way hike ending at the site of the old Traverso Homestead that dates back to the 1880s
- History Trail – 1.1 mile one-way hike that starts from the picnic area, pass the Pioneer Cemetery, and ends at the Bale Grist Mill
- Coyote Peak Trail – a popular 4.5 mile loop that climbs to the 1,170-foot peak, with a view of the surround valley and hills
- Redwood Trail – 1.5 mile one-way hike, heavily shaded by redwoods and mixed-evergreen forest
- Native American Plant Garden, Wappo People – Native American Plant Garden – a 3/4 acre walking trail next to the Bothe-Napa Valley Visitor Center
Quivira Vineyards and Winery
To learn more about their wines, farm-to-table dinners, and other events, please visit their website for more info.
Photos taken by Vean Chen and Steve Chou