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Travel Diary: Napa Wine Weekend

Members gathered for a wine sipping weekend in Napa Valley where all the details were handled and the only question left was—red or white?

The enjoyment of wine is a favorite pastime of many Exclusive Resorts Members—so why not go to the source of more than a few great sips? At the end of October 2021, a group of 20 gathered in Napa Valley for a custom-curated weekend of VIP tastings, tours, exclusive meet-and-greets, and multi-course wine-paired meals. Here’s how they spent three quintessential fall days sipping and cheers-ing their way through Napa Valley, CA for the ideal wine travel experience.

Day 1 | Thursday, October 28, 2021

Members arrived and checked into their home for the weekend, Meadowood Napa Valley. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect—mild and sunny, especially after a few previous days of rain. As couples settled in before the evening’s welcome dinner, some sipped cocktails by the pool in the afternoon sun.   

The weekend kicked off in typical Napa style—a multi-course, wine-pairing dinner at the exclusive Napa Valley Reserve. This “Taste of Exclusive Resorts” welcome dinner featured delicious wines poured by local Member family-owned vineyards: Barry Murphy and Rosemary Dunbar of SilverPoint Cellars, Maria Castellucci-Moore and Bart Moore of Castellucci Napa Valley, and the Jones family (Jones Family Vineyards). Both Barry and Maria introduced their wines, speaking to their vineyards and tasting notes while Members sipped and chatted excitedly about the weekend ahead.  

Day 2 | Friday, October 29, 2021 

The group boarded the shuttle mid-morning to Cakebread Cellars for the first tasting of the day. It was a beautiful fall day, crisp yet sunny, with changing leaves illuminating the vineyard during our tour of the grounds. After a surprise falconry experience where the residence falconer displayed the age-old tradition of using these birds of prey to keep the vineyards clear of other birds and critters, some of the Members got to meet one falcon up close. Lunch was a three-course, wine-paired meal (complete with sips of Cakebread’s new Chardonnay release) under the shade of old oak trees. Lunch was a fall-inspired dining experience with dishes crafted using fresh vegetables from Cakebread’s own gardens. 

Sipping Cakebread's new release Chardonnay before lunch
The unique falcon experience at Cakebread

After lunch, the group continued on to Faust for our second tasting experience of the day. The old, black painted Victorian home was perched on a hillside and framed by trees with fiery leaves—the perfect “spooky” setting for a Halloween weekend tasting. Members tasted five Faust wines in the speakeasy-style cellar, indulging in cheese pairings and conversations with Faust’s winemaker, David Jelinek.  

Couples dined on their own in the evening, resting up before Saturday’s continuation of the weekend wine adventure. Most Members utilized their provided resort credit and ordered room service while cozying up next to their in-room fireplace or out on their patio. A few ventured into town for a taste of the many fantastic Napa restaurants. 

Day 3 | Saturday, October 30, 2021 

The first tasting experience of the day began nice and early with a tasting and boxed brunch at Frank Family Vineyards, one of the few sparkling wine producing vineyards in the valley. Special guests joined in this morning’s tasting to the delight of Members: CEO James Henderson and his partner Mary Allan were in attendance, along with Frank Family Vineyard proprietors, Rich and Leslie Frank. The group began with sparkling wine before moving to a Chardonnay and Zinfandel, concluding with one of Frank’s highly rated Cabernet Sauvignons. Rich Frank then gave a behind-the-scenes tour of the property—Members loved his stories from not only wine making, but his history as President of Paramount and Disney. 

Touring the exclusive Napa Valley Reserve
A blind tasting and education session with Sarah Bray

After brunch, and bidding farewell to the Frank Family, we ventured back to The Napa Valley Reserve for a tour of the property, including the expansive wine caves, before sitting for a blind tasting with Master of Wine candidate, Sarah Bray, the Associate Director of Wine Education for The Learning Center. It’s a rare opportunity for non-Napa Valley Reserve members to experience a private tasting and tour such as this, and Exclusive Resorts Members soaked in Sarah’s wine knowledge. Member Enrique C. commented, it was his favorite stop of the weekend thus far. 

A perfect fall dinner at Quintessa
Marketing's Avery Johnson and trip lead Katie Duven at Quintessa

Members enjoyed downtime to relax and freshen up at Meadowood before heading to our final stop of the weekend: Quintessa. The setting for our Farewell Dinner couldn’t have captured fall in wine country better. The courtyard was dotted with red and orange trees and strung with lights, the tablescape was done up in pumpkin finery, and rolling hills of vineyards provided the picture-perfect backdrop as the sun set. The event was held in the family’s home on the Quintessa property instead of the winery’s main tasting room—a truly special experience.  

After a reception, Members sat for a multi-course, wine-paired long table dining experience while hearing from the two head winemakers for Quintessa, Rodrigo and Rebekah. Everyone enjoyed great conversation, recapping their favorite weekend moments, sharing past Experiences they had been on, and discussing future trips they would like to take before bidding one another farewell and departing home on Sunday morning. 

A tasting set up at Frank Family Vineyards
Learning from Faust's wine maker, David Jelinek


Along with curated Members-only experiences in global wine country regions, Exclusive Resorts Members have exclusive benefits from our partner wineries including complimentary tastings, early access to limited releases, special events, and more. Learn more about our Vineyard VIP benefits here.