With more than 400 wineries, an abundance of destination restaurants, welcoming weather, and dreamy, bucolic surroundings, Napa Valley is one of the world’s greatest adult playgrounds. In this gluten-free Napa Valley travel guide, we share where to find the GF goodness and more within this thirty-mile-long stretch of vine-growing paradise.
Photos Erin Ng
With hundreds of wineries in the valley, selection can be hard. Inexpensive, architectural, scenic, romantic, small, picnic-friendly, huge … they’re all here. Pick based on interest and budget, and limit your plan to three per day so you leave room for inevitable dawdling and happenstance. A few of our favorites: the Hess Collection for art (hesscollection.com); Schramsberg Vineyards for sexy cave tours and sparkling wine (schramsberg.com); Shafer Vineyards for intimate tours and exceptional reds (shafervineyards.com); Frank Family Vineyards for relaxed tasting and banter (frankfamilyvineyards.com); and Far Niente Winery for ogling gardens (napawineproject.com/far-niente-winery).
Downtown Napa’s co-op marketplace is a GF nosh fest waiting to happen. Along with worthy restaurants C Casa and Hog Island Oyster Bar, there’s Kara’s Cupcakes (with GF options), charcuterie, spices, and more—plus free wireless and ample indoor and outdoor seating. See their website for details
There are dozens of pampering opportunities throughout the valley. But the most unique is the detoxifying Calistoga mud bath, which entails getting partially buried in thick, clingy, hot mud followed by a long soak in a tub filled with the property’s hot springs mineral water. Indian Springs (indianspringscalistoga.com) steps up with a refined mud made from volcanic ash straight from the grounds plus all-day access to the swanky Zen gardens and mineral pools. Across the street, Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort (drwilkinson.com) mixes peat with volcanic mud for a wetter, chunkier mud bathing experience.
Annually held each spring, BottleRock (bottlerocknapavalley.com) is a three-day rock extravaganza. Robert Mondavi Winery’s Summer Concert Series (robertmondaviwinery.com/About-the-Series#) is a collection of somewhat intimate, happy, dancing-in-the-grass picnic events. Downtown Napa’s gorgeously remodeled vintage Uptown Theater (uptowntheatrenapa.com) welcomes known headliners year-round.
Inn on Randolph
One hundred percent GF with a shockingly great full-gourmet breakfast, this historic downtown Napa inn pampers with luxuriously modern accommodations and amenities. innonrandolph.com
Napa River Inn
At the base of downtown Napa along the Napa River, and steps from all the nearby attractions, are beautifully appointed rooms within a historic building (with multiple restaurants) and the adjoining annex. Perks include breakfast in bed (request GF) and discounts and freebies for more than a dozen wine-tasting options. napariverinn.com
Tasteful accommodations with antique appointments and thoughtful touches don’t come at a better price than at this small downtown Calistoga inn. thebergson.com
One of the best bargains in the valley, these spacious, freestanding throwback cottages two blocks off Calistoga’s main drag have all the essentials (though no phones), and many come with full kitchens. hideawaycottages.com
Indian Springs Calistoga
White-robe living, free bikes, smartly appointed rooms in multiple buildings, a restaurant and outdoor lounge, mineral pools, tranquil ponds, a spa with epic mud baths, and more make this a preferred Calistoga escape for Bay Area locals. indianspringscalistoga.com
DRINK IT IN
The Bistro & Bar at Auberge du Soleil
There’s no better valley view than the one you’ll get here on the terrace of ultra-exclusive Auberge du Soleil resort. Order a drink—from an iced tea or cocktail to a thousand-plus dollar bottle of wine from the astounding wine list—or indulge in a full meal. It’s worth the trip any time before sunset, as long as money is no object! aubergedusoleil.aubergeresorts.com
Sam’s Social Club
The outdoor area of the full-service restaurant at Indian Springs resort includes welcoming fire pits that beg to be paired with a luscious house-made cocktail, such as the Berry White (gin, blackberry, raspberry, lemon juice, and egg white) and delicious snacks like Deviled Eggs and Blue-Cheese-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates. indianspringscalistoga.com
Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company
Small-batch roasts, including single-origin specialties, and everyday residents meet at this St. Helena stalwart with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. There’s a second location in downtown Napa. napavalleycoffee.com
Most of the restaurants on this list are not 100 percent gluten-free, but they are accustomed to accommodating GF diners. Upon arrival, be sure to advise your server of your dietary constraints.
Note: Restaurants change their menus and recipes all the time, so be
sure to confirm with your server that all the dishes you order are in fact, gluten-free.
Angèle Restaurant & Bar
Elegant-cozy French on the inside and sunny-day satisfying on the patio overlooking the Napa River, this downtown Napa restaurant is perfect for a leisurely lunch or dinner. Must-tries: Niçoise salad; Spring Pea Tartine with burrata, hazelnuts, and pea shoots (on lettuce rather than toast; torchon of foie gras with strawberry compote (skip the brioche). angelerestaurant.com
An all-gluten-free menu plus astoundingly good GF classic baked goods to go make this super-fresh counter-service contemporary Mexican restaurant at downtown Napa’s Oxbow Market a must stop for a casual meal. Must-tries: agua fresca; grilled prawn cocktail; fish taco; tostada salad; baguette; donut (!). myccasa.com
Bright and lively, rough-hewn-stonewall environs, and refined contemporary American cooking make this a prime dinner haunt for locals in downtown Napa. Must tries: deviled eggs with pickled onions and bacon; lobster risotto; Akaushi Beef Short Rib with blue oyster mushroom, fava beans, Fiddler’s Green fennel, and polenta. torcnapa.com
Bistro Don Giovanni
Festive and reliable with good-time vibes inside the huge, bright dining room, on the wrap-around terrace, and at the bar, Napa’s beloved Italian restaurant is as good for date night as it is for family gatherings. Despite the pizza and pasta, there are still plenty of good choices. Must-tries: beet and haricot vert salad; Seared Salmon Fillet with buttermilk mashed potatoes and chive butter. bistrodongiovanni.com
Hog Island Oyster Bar
Wine and oysters start an excellent dining experience at this super-casual restaurant within Napa’s Oxbow Market. Indulge at the bar or on the shaded back patio. Must-tries: oysters; steamed Manila clams with jalapeño sausage, kale, roasted jalapeño butter, and white wine. hogislandoysters.com
The French Laundry
Here world-class dining by famed chef Thomas Keller means your GF multicourse meal includes spectacular breads and other treats along with artful presentation, and synchronized service. Access to reservations and the price are potential hurdles. Must-try: GF tasting menu of the day. thomaskeller.com/tfl
Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch
An expansive country-chic dining room and contemporary American seasonal cuisine combine to make this a favorite locals spot in St. Helena. Must-tries: pork hash at brunch; Heritage St. Louis Ribs with green apple cole slaw and barbecue sauce. longmeadowranch.com
With two locations (in the corner of a strip mall in Napa and on Main Street in St. Helena) and killer tacos, this counter-service restaurant is locals’ trusted source for hangover food or easy, affordable lunch and dinner. Must-tries: chicken tacos; huevos rancheros. villacoronacatering.com
The restaurant at Solage resort lures even the locals with their seasonal cuisine, indoor and outdoor seating, and relaxed-swank surroundings. Brunch is hugely popular. Must-tries: crispy slow-cooked pork belly with Granny Smith apple kimchi and miso-apple butter; crisped Mt. Lassen trout with artichoke confit. solage.aubergeresorts.com