Ultimate Guide to St. Helena

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  • by HANA-LEE SEDGWICK
  • on JUNE 8, 2023
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Guides

Ultimate Guide to St. Helena

By Hana-Lee Sedgwick June 8, 2023

Located in the heart of Napa Valley, St. Helena beckons with its beautiful wineries, five-star dining experiences, and luxurious places to stay. Whether you come for the quality wine, food, or accommodations—or better yet, a combination of all three—St. Helena has everything you need for a memorable weekend getaway in Napa Valley. Here’s our guide to what to see and do in the charming town of St. Helena.

Where to taste:

Charles Krug
Carriage House at Charles Krug, Photo Courtesy of Charles Krug

2800 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 967-2229

Founded in 1861, Charles Krug is not only home to California’s first tasting room, but is also where the Mondavi dynasty first started. Known for its storied heritage and famed wines, Charles Krug Winery is a worthy stop, especially if interested in the legacy of Napa Valley winemaking.

Insider Tip: Learn how to blind taste like a Sommelier with Charles Krug’s Certified Sommelier Jeff Arnold. In this interactive wine tasting workshop, you’ll learn how color, aromatics, structure, and grape markers can identify which wine varietal you are drinking.

Clif Family
Rise and Wine Tasting. Photo Courtesy of Clif Family

709 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 968-0625

This eco-conscious winery—founded by the family behind the beloved Clif Bar brand—focuses on high-quality, low-impact wine and food, using organic and sustainable farming practices. During a visit, you can indulge in a diverse range of experiences, from casual tastings to farm-to-table culinary experiences featuring fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced from their own organic farm.

Insider Tip: While the seated wine and food pairings are always a treat, if you’re looking for something more casual, yet no less delicious, stop by the Clif Family Bruschetteria food truck to enjoy a selection of sandwiches, salads, and sides.

Merryvale Vineyards
Photo Courtesy of Merryvale Vineyards

1000 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 963-7777

Situated on the bustling Main Street of St. Helena, Merryvale Winery is an institution in Napa Valley. Established in 1983, Merryvale is home to the first winery production facility built after the repeal of Prohibition. Since then, the winery has earned a strong reputation for its premium Bordeaux varietal wines, diverse tasting options, and delightful culinary-focused experiences.

Insider Tip: This time of year, the Profile Estate Picnic is hard to beat. This seasonal experience, offered April through October, will find you picnicking and sipping wine atop a picturesque ridge 800 feet above the valley. It’s quite a memorable way to “wine taste” in Napa.

Lithology
Photo Courtesy of Lithology

1226 Washington Street, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 968-9030

A relative newcomer on the scene, Lithology specializes in handcrafted wines from select growing areas within the Napa Valley. Their mission is deeply rooted in honoring the unique qualities of the land, with a strong emphasis on sustainability and minimal intervention in the vineyard. This commitment shines through in their wines, which offer a vibrant expression of the unique Napa terroir.

Insider Tip: Make an appointment at the winery, located at the bottom of Howell Mountain, to sample these exclusive wines for yourself. The experience pairs an educational vineyard tour with a selection of Lithology’s finest wines, allowing you to fully explore what this brand is all about.

Trinchero
Photo Courtesy of Trinchero

3070 St. Helena Highway, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 963-1160

Since 1948, Trinchero has been dedicated to crafting quality wines that represent the Napa Valley. Set on 22 acres and surrounded by vineyards, the winery offers a variety of tasting experiences that explore terroir, vintages, and culinary pairings.

Insider Tip: In the summer months, Legacy Club Members can reserve the members-only bocce ball court overlooking the vines.

If you need more ideas, stop into HALL Wines St. Helena, where a dedication to beauty shows in everything from the wine to the extensive artwork and sculptures throughout the property. Also noteworthy is Fantesca Estate, tucked just outside of St. Helena on Spring Mountain. This stunning winery and vineyard is a must for anyone looking for an exclusive and intimate tour and tasting of highly acclaimed wines.

Where to eat:

PRESS
Photo Courtesy of PRESS

587 St. Helena Highway, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 967-0550

This chic, upscale steakhouse recently reopened after a brief refresh and is better than ever. Still committed to sourcing only the highest quality, local ingredients, some of which are grown in the restaurant’s own gardens, a meal here will find you savoring prime dry-aged beef, fresh seafood, and fire-roasted vegetables alongside the best of the area’s wines.

Insider Tip: PRESS is home to the largest collection of Napa Valley wines in the world, so if you’re looking to experience the terroir of the region, there’s no better place to be.

Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch
Photo Courtesy of Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch

738 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 963-4555

Attached to Long Meadow Ranch winery, Farmstead’s American farmhouse cuisine is good any time of day, but brunch should not be missed. Featuring ingredients sourced from their farm, ranch, and vineyards, Farmstead is all about eating fresh and local food, whether reaching for the fresh-squeezed carrot juice or grass-fed beef tartare.

Insider Tip: The “Big Easy” beignets with bourbon caramel sauce will likely be a highlight of your day, so don’t skip an order of these to share.

Gott's Roadside
Photo Courtesy of Gott's Roadside

933 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 963-3486

This Napa Valley favorite is an American classic, serving mouthwatering burgers from its roadside diner since 1999. Stop by for a classic burger made with a ⅓ pound Niman Ranch beef patty or dig into something more adventurous, like the kimchi burger with fried egg and spicy mayo. You’ll also find salads, fries, milkshakes, and, because it’s Napa Valley, a selection of wines by the glass and bottle.

Insider Tip: If you save room after your meal, Gott‘s offers soft-serve ice cream by the cup or cone, available with all the fixin’s.

The Charter Oak
Photo Courtesy of The Charter Oak

Hidden behind the ivy-clad exterior, The Charter Oak offers a laid-back dining experience created by acclaimed Chef Christopher Kostow, formerly of the Three-Michelin-starred Restaurant at Meadowood. This charming Napa Valley eatery boasts a tree-covered courtyard patio and a stylish, spacious interior, where simple, farm-inspired dishes highlight ingredients primarily sourced from the restaurant’s own 3.5-acre garden.

Insider Tip: Don’t miss their legendary cheeseburger or the artfully arranged starters like farm-fresh eggs drizzled with local olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.

When you’re ready for more, head to the heart of downtown St. Helena to stop at the charming Model Bakery for their famous English muffins or a breakfast sandwich to go with your coffee. This location has been a bakery since 1908 and Model Bakery still bakes in the original brick ovens from the 1920s. Also worth checking out is Harvest Table, where inspired California fare highlights locally-sourced ingredients, much of which comes from their five culinary gardens. And at the upscale gastropub Goose & Gander, located in downtown St. Helena, you’ll find classic American fare with a Wine Country twist, plus a tasty selection of libations.

What to do:

2555 Main Street, St. Helena, CA, (707) 967-2530

Built in the late 19th century and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this gorgeously imposing building houses cooking demonstrations and classes, wine seminars, a marketplace, restaurant, bakery, and a wine key museum—everything that a gourmand or oenophile could ask for.

Insider Tip: The CIA also has a location in downtown Napa, offering additional experiences tailored for wannabe chefs, wine enthusiasts, and those who just like good food.

Robert Louis Stevenson Museum
Photo Courtesy of Robert Louis Stevenson Museum

1490 Library Lane, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 963-3757

This quaint museum next to the St. Helena Library houses artifacts and manuscripts from the famous author’s life in Napa Valley, providing the unique opportunity to experience his legacy and without a fee, since the museum offers free admission.

Insider Tip: Don’t miss checking out the scale model of the Silverado Bunkhouse, offering a glimpse of what it looked like during Stevenson’s time there.

When visiting St. Helena, be sure to wander Main Street (aka Highway 29) between Adams Street and Pope Street for some serious window shopping. Don’t miss Woodhouse Chocolate or Pearl Wonderful Clothing. Numerous high end art galleries dot the street too, for the collector or the curious. Or, catch a film at the old fashioned movie house, Cameo Cinema, where owner Cathy Buck personally welcomes the audience before each showing.

Where to stay:

Wydown Hotel
Photo Courtesy of Wydown Hotel

1424 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 963-5100

Immerse yourself in the heart of downtown St. Helena at the Wydown Hotel, conveniently located on Main Street just steps from tasting rooms and restaurants. The 12-room boutique hotel offers relaxed, modern luxury, with spacious rooms outfitted with comfortable furniture, Nespresso coffee makers, and plush robes and slippers to make you feel right at home.

Insider Tip: Regardless of the time of day, Wydown’s Tea Room will be your go-to gathering spot, where you’ll be greeted with complimentary continental breakfast each morning, gourmet cookies and tea in the afternoon, and Friday wine tastings. It’s also home to the occasional pop-up shop and seasonal celebration.

Meadowood Napa Valley
Photo Courtesy of Meadowood Napa Valley

900 Meadowood Lane, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 531-4788

For a five-star experience in Wine Country, head to Meadowood Napa Valley, where you’ll find tastefully decorated rooms and suites, fine dining, and a spa that caters to your well-being. There’s also a wide range of amenities and perks included with a stay here, from the welcome glass of wine at their restaurant, Forum, to the extensive selection of fitness classes and tennis clinics, as well as complimentary car service to St. Helena and Yountville. It all adds up to a blissful way to experience Napa Valley.

Insider Tip: There’s no better way to spend a warm day in Wine Country than beside a pool, particularly when said pool is at Meadowood. And with three pools on-site—one for swimming laps, another for family fun, and one for adults only—there’s something for everybody.

Conclusion

Also worth noting is the Wine Country Inn & Cottages, offering a tranquil place to stay just a few minutes from downtown, where quiet, comfortable rooms feature private patios and are surrounded by vineyards. The picturesque Harvest Inn is also a welcome respite after a day of wine tasting, where 81 spacious rooms, lushly-landscaped grounds, and two heated outdoor pools await.