• A. Skinner

More Wine? Napa Valley Here We Come….

Updated: Aug 27, 2021


While planning this adventure, I guess we felt four days in Paso just wasn’t enough... so we scheduled five days in Napa!


Actually, we had not been in Napa for a few years and we have many friends that we have missed greatly – not to mention it is MY all-time favorite place to eat.


Finding a large enough RV spot in Napa is challenging. The only real location is the Napa Fairgrounds, but if you come in July you are out of luck because well… The FAIR.


After calling numerous parks and being told NO to our 45-foot rigs – we called in a favor to Sonoma Raceway. The only issue with the racetrack? NO Power for buses. I found this crazy to believe, but there really are NO pedestals offering 50-amp of power at Sonoma Raceway. Insane. However, the great staff at the track helped us find a secure parking area, and brought in solar panel truck to provide solar power. We buddy plugged with Tom and Laura’s Marathon and set the air conditioners to basically just keep the buses cool enough so nothing would spoil, and to keep the refrigerator and freezers operating.


Now… where do we go with four adults and four dogs?


Well, you call your friend Fred Biagi, who is still the most generous fella in Napa. He organized a vineyard house in Glen Allan at Arrowood Winery. Mike and I had stayed there before when Mike was inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame ( yes… Fred arranged it that time too! ). We were just a tad excited to have a large home, multiple baths and a BIG yard for the pups to play. Just what we needed to explore wine country while our buses took a rest.


Fred met us on the back patio with wine in hand – because yes… we needed more wine. A nice dinner that evening…and it was off to the house and a long soaking bath. Oh, how I miss bathtubs while on the road. We opted for an early dinner near the house with Fred and his wife Pat before heading back to the house for a final, final out on the back porch.


Our first full day in Napa started with a drive over to Yountville where we discovered an active pickleball club. The players were talented and fun to take on. After a few hours on the courts, we choose to meet Fred at Bistro Don Gionvannis for a long leisure lunch. I forgot how GOOD this restaurant is. We used to dine there annually when Mike ran the NASCAR Sonoma road course event. After a filling lunch, it was time to get back to the house for some relaxation.


Dinner at the famous Auberge had been arranged for the evening, which is by far the best views of the Napa Valley. We kicked off happy hour overlooking the valley from a lovely table outside the bar, then directed to our dinner table which was just as special.

The next morning, Mike and I decided to try another pickleball club. This time in Santa Rosa. We had some fun games and found a lil' lunch spot across the street.


We had to make sure to get back to get ready for an afternoon of wine tasting at Caymus, followed by dinner at Ciccio in Yountville.


Now, I have eaten at many amazing restaurants around the world, but when asked my favorite region to dine, I always say Napa Valley. Ciccio is my all-time favorite. Maybe because we are spoiled and friends with the owners Frank and Karen Altamura – but when I suggest others to dine there while visiting Napa, most agree that Ciccio is a favorite!


We don’t even order from the menu – we just sit down with Frank and Karen and they bring the most amazing in-season small plates to the table for us to all founder.


This particular night, Frank became “The Wine Devil” and kept pouring some of his best vintages to date. Yes... he also owns and makes our favorite wine Altamura.


Our third day in Napa Valley was supposed to begin with a noon tour of Altamura ranch, but around 10am our plans changed abruptly.


Laura made us the most amazing frittata after our 2-hours of coffee sipping on the back porch.

We planned to tour the Altamura Winery at noon, grab a nice lunch and then spend an evening relaxing at the house. We had been running pretty hard and felt an evening IN watching old Steve McQueen movies would be a stellar idea. We thought this… UNTIL the doorbell rang!


Laura ran upstairs in her bath towel reporting the cleaning crew had arrived. Ok… just tell them we are good, no cleaning needed until we depart on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, the crew was there to clean after our departure – another group would be checking in at 3pm.


WHAT?!&%$!


A reservation mix-up, was forcing us to quickly grab our belongings and bolt – with NO place to go.


My friend in Napa, Matt Cordiero, was trying to call my phone to secure our dinner plans at his steakhouse for Saturday night while I was throwing clothes, groceries, dog beds and bowls into the back our of tow vehicle. In a tizzy, I told him I would call back shortly.


Whew….! Ok, I think we have everything packed up. Dogs are loaded in the car and as we are leaving, still trying to catch our breath from running in and out loading the cars, the cleaning crew requested a quick photo with Tom. I am not joking … we got kicked out one minute and the next they want a quick autograph? LOL! It’s never boring with this group!!!


While headed to the racetrack to collect our buses, we were considering just leaving Napa early, until Matt came to the rescue. Literally as we were pulling into Sonoma Raceway to jump in the buses, Matt suggested we just drive over to his transportation company's parking lot. YES! We could spend our final two nights right in Napa inside a nice, secure industrial park??? Sign us up!


Upon arrival, it got even better... The lot had a dump, water and even fuel if needed. Our day went from crap to perfection.


Our host then knocked on the door and said your limo and driver are waiting. I have arranged a private VIP tour of Del Dotta wine caves just up the road. I have always wanted to see this winery!


Dave Del Dotto the owner greeted us upon arrival and provided the most amazing tour complete with barrel tasting of his best and favorite vintages.


The wine caves were abundant in gorgeous décor, featuring authentic Italian chandeliers, statues and works of art. Absolutely beautiful.


We completed our tour inside his private wine room, sipping more of his gorgeous wine, and enjoying fresh pizzas, baked to our liking. Our day could not have been better.


Our final day in Napa would begin with a late morning tour of Altamura ranch. Thankfully, Frank and Karen re-scheduled our tour after the house blunder.


It was fun to see the ranch again after more than 15 years, and share our favorite wine and friends from the valley with Tom and Laura.


For our official taste, a meat and cheese luncheon was laid out with fresh pears and blueberries. YUM!


Then, a quick pitstop at Oakville Grocery before heading back to our Napa “GlampGround.”


We were warned to not over-eat early in our day because Matt had planned a feast at his steakhouse that evening.

We were glad we were warned! We walked into Cordiero Steakhouse and were greeted with large format bottles of cabernet already decanted, and a chilled seafood tower that could have been my entire meal for the night!


Service was followed by delectable bread, side dishes, grilled steaks and veal chops galore.


Then a flaming fondue of fruits and chocolate, followed by more homemade chocolate cordials and pours of fine ports.


I am NOT exaggerating when I say we all gained up to four pounds each while visiting Napa Valley. We needed to leave!!! Our livers were screaming it was time to give them a lil' rest.



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