Picture Perfect St. Helena

Bale Grist Mill, St. HelenaSt. Helena is the capital of Napa Valley and a town that epitomizes all that makes this area so special – world-class wineries, great eats and unique shopping. Plan a few days with St. Helena as your home base and delve into all that this vibrant small town has to offer!

If you’re interested in spending a day or two wine tasting and touring, St. Helena has plenty of wineries to explore. One of the best in-depth tours around is offered at Beringer Vineyards, the oldest continuously operating winery in Napa Valley. For wine tasting without an appointment, drop in at Whitehall Lane or St. Clement, where you’ll find many incredible examples of Napa Valley’s finest Cabernet Sauvignons.

For something entirely different, Benessere Vineyards has a wide selection of unusual Italian varietals, including Aglianico and Sagrantino. Across the valley on Silverado Trail, visit William Harrison Vineyards, which specializes in Bordeaux-style blends. Back in town, Merryvale Vineyards stays open until 6:30pm daily so you can make one last stop before dinner.

St. Helena has a wide selection of eats for whatever you crave. In the morning, the top stop for coffee is Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company, where they roast fresh beans almost daily. You’ll find the best pastries in town at Model Bakery, which is also the perfect stop for a quick lunch of fresh salads, sandwiches or the day’s special pizza. If you want a juicy burger or other classic “drive-in” fare, check out Gott’s Roadside (formerly Taylor’s Refresher).

When you do make a pit stop in downtown St. Helena, take a stroll up and down Main Street to take in the town’s wonderful ambiance. There are interesting shops lining both sides of the street, including boutiques with the latest styles in clothing and shoes, jewelry, and home furnishings. Downtown also has a great wine shop in St. Helena Wine Merchants, which offers rare and undiscovered for novice and collector alike. For art lovers, stop in at Art on Main, which showcases the most extensive collection of fine art in Napa Valley.

It’s tough to choose between all the terrific dinner options in St. Helena. For a more elegant dining experience, make reservations at the Michelin three-star rated Meadowood Napa Valley. For a more casual atmosphere with classic California cuisine featuring fresh local ingredients, try Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen; for Italian with a contemporary flair, try the popular and fun Tra Vigne.

Itinerary for a day in St. Helena

Where to Taste:

Benessere Vineyards, 1010 Big Tree Road, www.benesserevineyards.com; 707-963-5853. Open daily 10-5pm by appointment

Beringer Vineyards, 2000 Main St.,www.beringer.com; 707-963-8989. Open daily 10-5 PM, 10-6 PM (Summer)

St. Clement Vineyards, 2867 St. Helena Hwy N.,www.stclement.com; 707-265-5000. Open daily 10-5 PM

Whitehall Lane Winery, 1563 St. Helena Hwy,www.whitehalllane.com; 707-963-7035. Open daily 10-5:45 PM

William Harrison Vineyards & Winery, 1443 Silverado Trail,www.whwines.com; 707-963-8310. Open daily 11-5 PM

Merryvale Vineyards, 1000 Main Street, www.merryvale.com; 707-963-7777. Open daily 10-6:30 PM

Where to Eat:

Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company, 1400 Oak Avenue, 707-963-4491

Model Bakery, 1357 Main St., 707-963-8192

Gott’s Roadside, 933 Main St., 707-963-3486

Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, 1327 Railroad Ave., 707-963-1200

The Restaurant at Meadowood, 900 Meadowood Lane, 707-967-1205

Tra Vigne, 1050 Charter Oak Ave., 707-963-4444

Strolling Downtown

Art on Main, 1359 Main St., Open 7 days a week, 707-963-3350

St. Helena Wine Merchants, 669 St. Helena Highway, Open 10-6 daily, 707-963-7888

Directions

From San Francisco, take Highway 101 north to the Mark West Springs Rd exit.  Turn right on Mark West Springs Rd (Porter Creek Rd), then left on Petrified Forest Road.  Turn right on Highway 128/Foothill Blvd for approximately  9 miles to St. Helena.