An insider’s guide to Napa Valley


A wine country vacation is a must-do experience for any sophisticate, and there are few better places to go for a vineyard adventure than Napa Valley, a friendly piece of the world, as beautiful as it is welcoming to the LGBT set.

If you’re traveling to Napa from afar, the best way to reach the region is to fly directly to Santa Rosa airport, just 40 miles from the town center. If a larger airport is more convenient, you can fly into San Francisco, Oakland, or Sacramento- each is only two hours away. Renting a car is easy, or there are shuttles, taxis, buses, and limousine services to get you where you need to go. The Napa Valley Transit’s bus line is known as “The Vine” and can get you around Napa with ease.

Keep in mind that many restaurants close between the last week of December and the second week of January, so plan your trip accordingly to avoid the region during this time, if the culinary route is your goal. Otherwise, every season has something worthwhile to offer: Whether you visit during spring as the vineyards are just beginning to grow fruit, the summer while grapes are ripening in the temperate sunshine, or autumn when harvesting begins and the leaves are ablaze with colors as the seasons change.

Below are a few tips and tricks of places to go and things to do on your Napa Excursion this November and beyond, curated from dot429 member’s opinions and insider info.


The people about town

Out in the Vineyards: Owned and operated by local gay community leaders, including dot429 members Gary Saperstein and Mark Vogler, Out In The Vineyard has the unique ability to offer guests exclusive access to some of the world’s best wineries, restaurants and accommodations catering to the LGBT lifestyle. They have weekend itineraries for the quick wine country getaway as well as week long tours for those looking to lose themselves in a longer trip. Visit their site here. They have also begun to take over the Napa Valley Wine train one day a year for the “Big Gay Train” event. Stay tuned for next season’s excursion by visiting the site here. 


Places to visit and things to do

Napa Valley Wine train: Enjoy this relaxing Napa experience stable, a three-hour thirty-six mile round-trip journey between the historic town of Napa, through one of the world’s most famous wine valleys, to the quaint village of St. Helena, and back again. Guests on the train can enjoy a freshly prepared lunch or dinner, and of course plenty of wine tasting, as the valley passes them by outside the restored vintage locomotive. Visit the site here.

Napa Valley Opera House: A beautifully restored Italian-style building that was originally constructed in 1879, this space is now a national historic landmark. A non-profit performanign arts organizaiton in the heart of downtown Napa, shows are eclectic, ranging from tehater, dance, comedy, jazz, blues, and world music. Walk in after a day of wine tasting to enjoy a night of entertainment. The curved staircase leads to the second-floor, 500-seat theater. A 24-light chandelier hangs above and an illustrated curtain framed by a painted proscenium arch sets the stage. Visit their site to find out about upcoming performances.

Some of our favorite wineries

Passalacqua: Young owners Jason and Noelle Passalacqua come from an experienced winemaking family, but the real treasure is on-site winemaker Margaret Davenport. Having worked for many years at the famed Clos du Bois Winery, Davenport is openly lesbian – the mother of a young daughter adopted from a Guatemalan orphanage by Davenport and her partner. She has been profiled in the San Francisco Chronicle as a “winemaker to watch.” Visit the site here.

Caldwell Vineyard: Explore John Caldwell’s vineyard and discover its sexy secret: Wine Caves. 20,000 square feet of caves to be exact, equipped with an elaborate tasting room. They began excavation of the speace in 2002 and now, nestled in the vineyard hills, the cave is home to all winemaking operations. Sit and sip in the cool caverns and enjoy a unique experience. Visit the site here.

Great Restaurant/Hotel/Spas

Auberge Du Soleil: We all know gays love their brunches, and Auberge Du Soleil happens to have one of the best in the Valley, with reviews lauding the premium quality ingredients and phenomenal Bloody Marys. They’ve received back to back Michelin Stars and rave reviews. The pleasures of a gorgeous view enjoyed with a glass of wine and an exquisite meal invite lingering. They’ve perfected the art of balancing wellness with luxurious indulgence. Visit the site to check out all the amenities this space has to offer.

Greystone: The Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant is part of the West Coast Campus of the Culinary Institute of America, a postgraduate institute where professionals of the industry perfect their arts and skills. The campus is 150 years old, and the world-class restaurant provides unique experiences, such as watching the chefs at work in open teaching kitchens, interacting with the chefs of tomorrow, learning about food and wine from “Did You Know?” menu notes, and more. Visit the site here.

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