As we approach the last few weeks of consistently fantastic summer weather, we all have vacation on our minds. Don’t get me wrong, Benicia’s bay breeze isn’t too shabby, but why neglect our Northern California neighbors? My staycation/day trip choice is where they make the good juice: Napa Valley.

Lucky for you, I’m a Benician who has recently converted into a Napkin, and I’ve got the intel. 

As we’re all aware, California is restricted when it comes to indulging in some luxury activities, but wine tasting has some advantages. Outdoor seating with a great view is already offered around the valley. The only change up is reservations are a must and party size is limited. You’ll find this request is not difficult once you’re sitting on a terrace admiring your gem-color filled glass, glistening in the warm summer sun. 

A month or so ago, a colleague and I were invited to an industry visit to a beautiful boutique winery named Young Inglewood Vineyards. We turned off the 29 and headed down a small St. Helena road. Gated homes that only got bigger the further we drove. As we parked and crossed the driveway down a gravel path surrounded by lavender and grape vines, I felt the normalcy and comfort I’ve been looking for, for months. Reading “surrounded by vines” is obviously a common description in the valley, but there is a different atmosphere to small-producing wineries. It feels as if someone is inviting you into their extravagant home to share their recent craftsmanship. At each  tasting visit, I’m always in awe of the room, right down to the tasting table. Young Inglewood’s table did not disappoint. As we passed the collected artwork to the tasting room, the light changed. The wall had lifted and opened to greet the vineyard. The wine was perfectly poured into 7 glasses. Placed in a perfect crescent shape. The table looked like it had jumped out of a Restoration Hardware magazine, but with a homemade feel. The glassware was delicate but made a statement as it caught the light of the sun and reflected colors onto our tasting sheets. The reds were complex and robust. They almost confused me for a higher elevation red. The whites were refreshing and gave you a hint of that Napa Valley Chardonnay warmth. The rose … well let’s just say it’s unsweetened, drinkable candy to dry rose connoisseurs.

This experience is not hard to obtain, even in these strange times. offers a list of open wineries and can even categorize them by wine varietal. This way you can jump straight to your favorites or try what you’re most curious about. For example, if wine tasting is not in your budget or not what you’re interested in, Yountville offers great spots for picnicking. BYOB (bring your own booze) is not frowned upon there. Especially at the Veteran’s Park. You can hop over to JCB, grab a bottle of bubbles and skip next door for some great to-go cheese options. Cupcakes from Fox & Fawn Bakehouse always pack well. Of course, you can’t forget to grab some savory goodies from One House Bakery for take away. 

Get out to the valley! We all deserve an outdoor, relaxing experience. Stay safe and sip out of a fancy glass!