Napa & Sonoma Travel Guide

Discover some of Crystal’s favorite things to do in Napa & Sonoma.



Madrona Manor – A beautiful Victorian B&B in the heart of Sonoma County with a fabulous Michelin rated restaurant on premise. This is one of the best meals we’ve had out there. Fantastic sommelier and chef team! Fine dining at its best.

1001 Westside Rd, Healdsburg, CA
(800) 258-400

Scopa, Downtown Healdsburg, Sonoma – Head here for a taste of Italy in CA. You definitely need reservations. We enjoy sitting at the bar in the back. It’s very authentic. You have to try the chef’s “Nonna Chicken” with polenta served in a cast iron crock. I never order chicken out, but this was fantastic! This is casual and delicious! Crazy good deals on Italian wines.

109 A Plaza Street
Healdsburg, CA
(707) 433-5282

Auberge de Soleil, Rutherford – This is a fantastic dining experience! They offer multiple courses with wine pairings. Make sure to get a table on the balcony overlooking all of Napa Valley when you make your reservation. This was the highlight of our honeymoon. They also have a sister property Angele in downtown Napa, that is amazing.

180 Rutherford Hill Road
Rutherford, CA
(800) 348-5406

Bounty Hunter, Downtown Napa – Looking for something a little more casual that appeals to both sexes, this is the place! Wine bar &BBQ under one roof. Rustic, casual, great wine list (40 wines by the glass) and great food!

975 First Street, Napa, CA
(707) 226-3976

Bottega, Yountville, California – Chef Michael Chiarello’s signature restaurant does not disappoint. This is a must stop on all of my trips to the region. Authentic, rustic Italian cuisine at its best. We also were in for a special treat, on our last visit. Chiarello personally stopped by our table for a quick chat. While you’re there, make sure to visit Napa Style, Chiarello’s home goods store,  which is located next door to the restaurant.  You can sample an array of delicious olive oils, sip on a glass of wine and savor a delicious panini while you shop at Napa Style. (Picture from left to right: Chef Michael Chiarello, Crystal Cameron & her husband Tom Schaad)

6525 Washington Street, Yountville, CA
(707) 945-1050


Oakville Grocery, – A perfect place to pick up a picnic lunch (gourmet items & sandwiches) for your wine tasting journey. They have a location in Napa & Sonoma.

7856 St. Helena Highway, Oakville, CA

124 Matheson Street, Healdsburg, CA

Oxbow Market, Downtown Napa – Another awesome place to pick up a picnic lunch for a day of wine tasting. From gourmet cheeses and charcuterie to fresh baked breads and chocolates, all your culinary need are covered here.

610 & 644 1st St Napa CA

Wineries/Vineyards/Tasting Rooms

John Anthony Tasting Room, Downtown Napa – A really great place for a glass of wine before dinner or a nightcap. They also have a vineyard that you can tour, but this was by far one of the better “tasting rooms.” We purchased a bottle that we are holding onto for our 5th anniversary.

1440 First Street, Napa, CA
(707) 265-7711

Cakebread Cellars, Napa – Beautiful grounds, great tour. They have fantastic wine club.

8300 St Helena Hwy
Napa, CA

Grgich Hills, Napa – Winemaker and owner Mike Grgich is a legend. He is the winemaker responsible for the award-winning 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that won the prestigious 1976 Judgement of Paris. This little event is what put American wine on the international wine map.

1829 St Helena Hwy
Rutherford, CA
(707) 963-2784

Jordan Winery, Healdsburg, Sonoma – One of my absolute favorites! The family modeled this estate after Chateau Margaux in Bordeaux France. It’s majestic especially during the fall. Take the tour and you will be treated to a vertical flight of library wines in their hidden library. Appointments required!

1474 Alexander Valley Rd
Healdsburg, CA 95448
(707) 431-5250

A. Raffanelli Winery, Healdsburg, Sonoma – 4th generation winemakers from Italy. Reminiscint of a Tuscan estate. Very rustic. Best Zinfandels in California (in my humble opinion). Appointments required. They don’t have a formal tasting room, but if you can get in they will take you on personal tour through the caves and you’ll taste wines in their processing room. It was a great experience.
4685 W Dry Creek Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448
(707) 433-1385

Carol Shelton Wines, Sonoma – If you love Zinfandel, this is a must stop! Carol Shelton is widely cited as the most awarded winemaker in the United States. She has won countless medals for her wines and has been honored as Winemaker of the Year numerous times.
3354-B Coffee Lane, Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Schramsberg, Calistoga – This is “America’s Sparkling Wine House.” Schramsberg is located in Northern Napa, but it’s not too far from Healdsburg. They have been in existence since the late 1800’s. They are still producing sparkling wine in the traditional method. When you take the cave tour, you may get to see the riddler in action! Appointment required.


1400 Schramsberg Rd, Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-4558

Crab Cakes & Chardonnay

Succulent, sweet lump crab meat paired with a rich, full-bodied Chardonnay is simply a match made in heaven. The bright lemon notes in the wine bring out the sweetness in the crabmeat and the luxurious mouth-coating quality of an oaked, slightly buttery Chardonnay makes this an outstanding pairing with crab cakes. Drizzle a little butter on the crab cakes before baking and really bring out the creamy, buttery characteristics in the wine. The buttery flavors in the wine come from a winemaking process known as malolactic fermentation, this produces the diacetyl compound which gives the wine a creamy, dairy, buttery quality. Grab your favorite Chardonnay or try one of my favorite producers from California. These producers are known for making a more Old World Style of Chardonnay, in an effort to retain the bright, vibrant fruit notes and also maintaining a higher level of acidity.

Recommended Producers

Recipe: Gluten Free Crab Cakes (Serves 4) 


3 tbsp. olive oil
16 oz crab meat
1 egg
1 lemon (juice & zest)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
1 celery stalk (fine dice)
1/2 small onion (fine dice)
1/2 red bell pepper (fine dice)
1 bag of Cape Cod Chips (finely ground in food processor)


Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a medium saucepan, add minced veggies and sauté for 5-7 minutes until tender. Transfer to medium bowl. Let cool for about 5 minutes. Add lemon juice, zest, parsley, worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper and mix all ingredients. Fold in crab. Make 4 crab cakes of equal proportion and dredge both sides of all crab cakes in flour. Transfer to plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Since we are not using breadcrumbs in this recipe, this is an important step to make sure the crab cakes stay intact when cooking.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix 1 tbsp. olive oil & 1 tsp. of Old Bay Seasoning. Place crab cakes on sheet pan and drizzle with Old Bay oil. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve over a bed of greens with lemon vinaigrette.

Seafood Risotto & Chardonnay

Nothing says comfort like a great dish of seafood risotto. To add brightness to the dish, add Meyer lemon juice, lemon zest and white wine. Top it off with scrumptious shrimp and seared scallops and pair it with a Cakebread Chardonnay for pure perfection.  Each sip was filled with luscious apple, melon, citrus fruit and a touch of minerality. The refreshing acidity washed away the creamy finish of the risotto, leaving your palate ready for another bite and the full-bodied Chardonnay mirrored  the weight of the decadent and succulent sea scallops.

Recommended Producers


Recipe: Meyer Lemon Risotto w/Roasted Shrimp & Seared Sea Scallops (Serves 4)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, fine dice
1 cup Arborio rice
2 ½ – 3 cups homemade shrimp & lobster stock  (see recipe) or low sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock can be used as a substitute
¾ cup dry white wine (I prefer Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc)
2 Meyer lemons (zest & juice)
1 cup shredded Parmigianno Reggiano cheese
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon pepper
Salt to taste (keep in mind there is salt in the stock & cheese)

In a small saucepan warm 3 cups of stock (simmer on low)Scallop Risotto Paired w/Cakebread Chardonnay
In a large saucepan sauté onion in olive oil for 5-7 minutes over medium-low heat until translucent. Add Arborio rice and mix with onions until rice is well coated and slightly toasted 2-3 minutes
Add white wine and let evaporate
Once white wine evaporates, slowly add the stock ½ cup at a time stirring frequently
Continue adding the stock ½ cup at a time until risotto reaches desired consistency, above 25-30 minutes for al dente
At this point add cheese and butter, mix well
Fold in chopped parsley, lemon zest & juice
Divide between four plates and top with 2 scallops & 3 shrimp
Garnish w/parsley & lemon wheel


Roasted Shrimp
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Shell & devain 1 dozen large shrimp, leave the tails on for presentation (Timesaver: Ask your fish monger to do this for you)
Toss with olive oil, a pinch of salt & pepper
Roast for 6-8 minutes

Seared Sea Scallops
Pre-heat sauté pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil
Pat dry 8 medium-large sea scallops
Brush w/olive oil and a pinch of salt & pepper
Sear for 3 minutes per side until nicely golden on each side


Shrimp & Lobster Stock
Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, lobster and shrimp shells to a large stock pot over medium heat
Saute shells for 3-5 minutes until they become bright pink and aromatic
Add 1  medium yellow onion, 3 celery stalks, 1 carrot (all large dice), 4 cloves of smashed garlic, 2 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon of Old Bay, 1 teaspoon of sea salt, handful of peppercorns and cover with 2 quarts of water
Let simmer over low heat for 45 minutes
Strain with fine mesh strainer into smaller sauce pan
Freeze the rest of the stock for up to 3 months