Today, I want tell you all about how Bill and I used our Little Books to wine taste, shop, eat and explore St. Helena.
The Little Book of Big Experiences is a passport of offers with 24 different experiences inside. It’s valid from November through the end of March and offers VIP access to some of Napa Valley’s finest establishments, some including wine and food pairings, upgraded guest rooms, barrel tastings and more.
It’s just $100 per person. For us, our Little Books paid for themselves – more than twice over!
Using the Little Book is easy. Just present it when arriving at participating wineries, spas or restaurants to receive your offer.
Here’s how we used our Little Book of Experiences during our two day stay in St. Helena.
The first time we used our Little Book was at the family-owned winery, Whitehall Lane. The Leonardini Family has 140 acres in Napa Valley, including the Leonardini Vinyard in St. Helena, and they pride themselves on making fine Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay wines.
We visited Whitehall Lane without an appointment and did their Current Release Tasting which is a standing tasting led by a wine expert in the Main Tasting Room. We tried several wines and even got to do a side by side comparison of a few different Cabernet Sauvignon vintages. Delicious! As a white varietal fan, I fell in love with their Sauvignon Blanc and bought a couple bottles to take home with me.
If you have a Little Book of Big Experiences and you’re visiting Whitehall Lane during the week, Sunday through Thursday, you can use your Little Book offer and enjoy a seated one-on-one tasting in the Club Room. This private tasting that comes with a charcuterie plate and allows guests the opportunity to taste winery only, single vineyard and library wines. You must make an appointment for this Elevated Club Room Experience.
Whitehall Lane Winery, 1563 St. Helena Highway South (800) 963-9454
When I saw the Historic Tour & Shopping Excursion at The CIA at Greystone offered inside the Little Book, I immediately told Bill we would be taking it. I love food and I love cooking!
The Culinary Institute of America is a world renown culinary school with several locations around the world including a beautiful campus in St. Helena. Their Napa Valley location offers associate degrees and certificate programs as well as specialized wine programs.
Those of you who may have visited Napa Valley many years ago may remember this property at Christian Brothers Winery. It is majestic and full of fascinating history which you will learn about during the complimentary tour.
Some of the highlights were seeing and learning about Brother Timothy’s Corkscrew Collection, which is surprisingly interesting and enormous. And getting to see students and teachers in action. We briefly watched a group of students work on chocolate creations in the Ghirardelli Chocolate Discovery Center and a peeked in on a wine tasting class at The Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies.
After the tour, which lasted about an hour, we shopped at their Spice Island Marketplace. I used our 10% offer from the Little Book and bought a few kitchen items to bring home with me.
The CIA at Greystone also has a bakery and cafe right next to the marketplace. And in another building on the property is CIA’s Gatehouse Restaurant, where students who have completed two years of culinary instruction create and serve their innovative dishes to guests.
The Culinary Institute of America, 2555 Main Street (707) 967-2530
Since 1948 the Trinchero family has been growing grapes and making wine in Napa Valley. This family owned and operated business is now a world leader in the wine industry, owning more than 45 wine and spirit brands.
Trinchero Napa Valley is their luxury wine label. Bill and I visited Trinchero as I noticed it listed in the Little Book and we have never tasted there before.
Trinchero Napa Valley makes mostly single-vineyard, hand-crafted wines using grapes sourced from the family’s estates in Napa Valley. The winery is a striking property with several buildings set on a scenic vineyard property with rolling hills and manicured gardens.
The tasting room is stylish and has a very masculine feel with lots of rich colors, leather seating, and stone and metal accents.
Bill and I stopped by the winery to see if we could be seated for a tasting. Thankfully, since it was a weekday in Cabernet Season, a seating was available. We had their 90-minute Time in a Bottle Tasting which was led by a knowledgeable young man with a passion for wine. We had such a delightful time with him, learning about Trinchero wines.
Bill and I picked different tasting options and shared our pours so we could try 8 wines rather than just 4. I chose the Valley Floor Flight and Bill selected their Mountain Flight. I love their Merlot and still think about how wonderful that wine was!
For Sunday through Thursday visitors who have a Little Book, Trinchero offers a 120-minute Behind the Scenes tour and tasting. Visit Mario’s vineyard and Trinchero’s wine cave, while learning about the history of the Trinchero family and tasting their single vineyard estate and library wines.
Trinchero Napa Valley, 3070 St. Helena Highway (707) 963-1160
Brasswood Estate is a newer property located right across St. Helena Highway from Trinchero Napa Valley. While we’ve driven by Brasswood several times, this was our first visit. Wow, have we been missing out!
Brasswood Estate offers visitors a variety of things to do, see and taste. There is a world-class restaurant, a full bar, a bakery, wine tasting rooms and a wine shop.
We decided to start our visit to Brasswood with with lunch. It was such a lovely February day, we opted to sit outside on the patio. We were so pleased with our meal and the service. I had roasted fresh prawns and a wedge salad while Bill had a mouthwatering cheeseburger. We also shared an order of fresh mozzarella – a secret menu item you have to ask for – which is served atop grilled bread that’s been drizzled with olive oil, then topped with fresh rosemary sprigs.
After lunch, we walked next door to one of their gorgeous tasting rooms where we enjoyed a seated tasting and cheese pairing as part of our Little Book offer from Brasswood.
Brasswood is open throughout the day. You can start your morning with coffee and a pastry in their bakery, then enjoy a wine tasting and finish off with a leisurely lunch. That’s my plan next time we visit!
Brasswood Estate, 3111 St. Helena Highway North (707) 302-5997
St. Helena is one of my top favorite places to shop in wine country. This charming town has a wide variety of clothing boutiques, home decor stores, gift shops, bakeries, art galleries and much more. Along tree-lined Main Street you will find not only shops, but lots of wonderful places to eat.
A few must-visits for me are Woodhouse Chocolates – some of the best and prettiest chocolates money can buy. Model Bakery where you can get some fresh baked goods, including Oprah’s favorite English Muffins, sandwiches, soups and more. Lolo’s Consignment always has fabulous fashion finds. And Steve’s Hardware – yes, a hardware store! But what I love is their wonderful kitchen ware shop with lots of gadgets, small appliances, table top decor and more.
St. Helena is a hub for fantastic food. There are many well-established restaurants, most located right on or close to Main Street.
This time we decided to try a couple new to us restaurants. We went to Market St. Helena, where we had wonderfully fresh fish in a casual yet elegant setting. And we also tried Cook St. Helena for the first time – excellent Northern Italian fare and fantastic service with an intimate and lively atmosphere.
Be sure to go beyond Main Street when you visit St. Helena and take in the scenery. Bill and I took a couple of walks around the neighborhoods in St. Helena. You are sure to see quaint neighborhood streets and also some sprawling and dreamy mansions.
We always enjoy taking drives along the country roads in Napa Valley to see the farms, vineyards, wineries, and gorgeous homes.
If you’d like to be a bit more adventurous than walks and drives, you can rent bikes and take a ride around St. Helena or float above Napa Valley in a hot air balloon.
Visit St. Helena’s website for a list of fun things to do.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our virtual trip around St. Helena via The Little Book of Big Experiences. This limited-time passport, valued at over $1000, is valid until March 31st, 2018.
You can return multiple times during the Little Book period to take advantage of your unused offers. I know I will be using mine again!
Disclosure: Our stay at The Wydown Hotel and our (2) Little Book of Big Experiences passports were complimentary in exchange for my coverage. We paid for meals not included with our room and all wine purchases. All opinions expressed here are my own, as always.