Napa City Staycation

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By Courtney Cochran

With the economy bumping along as uncertainly as the box office receipts for latter-day Lindsay Lohan pics, it's no surprise Americans are embracing staycations in record numbers. An amusing portmanteau of the words "stay" (as in stay-at-home, or near home) and "vacation," the staycation offers Wine Country travelers an escape that's long on pleasure but short on planning and out-of-pocket expenses. And with its convenient location just 50 minutes north of San Francisco, the city of Napa makes an ideal destination for Bay Area staycationers of all stripes.

Read on for the low down on top spots for sipping inside the Napa City limits, and click here for more on the dos and don'ts of staycations - including tips on how to make yours a smashing success.
Olabisi Wines
Since Olabisi Wines' new tasting room opened in downtown Napa last November, you can now taste craftsman winemaker Ted Osborne's rare vineyard-designated wines while browsing the town's charming central district. He shares the cozy space with Trahan Winery, for whom he consults, which means this spot promises double the pleasure, double the vino.
974 Franklin Street. Open 7 days, 12pm-5:30pm. (tel) (707) 257-7477
Tasting Fee: $10 for 5 wines.

Vintner's Collective
Just a leisurely stroll from Olabisi you'll find the picturesque Vintner's Collective tasting room housed in a gorgeously renovated stone building near the river (word has it the spot used to be a brothel). But the real show here is the expertly edited selection of boutique Napa Valley wines on-hand to taste, many of which are available exclusively through the sleek, club-like tasting room. Whether your taste runs more to claret-style reds (cue Buoncristiani Family Winery , soulful Zins (ergo D Cubed) or palate-enlightening whites (merci, Destino Wines), the VC's got you covered.
1245 Main Street. Open 7 days, 11am-6pm. (tel) (707) 255-7150
Tasting Fee: $25 for 6 wines.

Oxbow Public Market

With the addition of the über gourmet Oxbow Public Market on the riverfront downtown, Napa gained a culinary destination worthy of the region's world-class food and wine rep. After a short walk across the Napa River, tuck into a glass of something delicious and hard-to-find while taking in the scene at Folio Enoteca & Winery in the spot's bustling main hall, or settle into a seat with a riverfront view for stellar sipping at the Oxbow Wine Merchant. Warning: At the latter, you're just a few feet from the ridiculously popular Oxbow Cheese Merchant, making snacking difficult - if not downright impossible - to resist.
610 & 644 First Street. Open 7 days beginning at 10am; merchant hours and tasting fees vary.

Conveniently located just across the street from the Oxbow, GustavoThrace winery enjoys the distinction of being home to winemaker Gustavo Brambila, the upstart young winemaker portrayed by actor Freddy Rodríguez in the hit indie film, Bottle Shock. On the heels of a successful career making wine for Grgich Hills for more than 20 years, Brambila now crafts wow-worthy whites and reds available for quaffing at his quaint riverside tasting room.
1021 McKinstry Street. Open 7 days, Sun-Wed 11am-7pm, Thu-Sa 11am-9pm.
(tel) (707) 257-6796 Tasting Fee: $10 for 5 wines.

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When you have had enough wine, head to Compadres Rio Grille, located just North of Downtown at 505 Lincoln on the West bank of The Napa River. The best margaritas in the area, and The Most Unique Dining and Party Venue in The Vally.

Other activities to think about:
1. Stay at the Cedar Gables Inn:
- Three course gourmet breakfast, wine and cheese every evening in the Old English Tavern, Fabulous rooms (every room in the 10,000 sq ft mansion is different

2. Cooking Classes:
-Paired with outstanding wines from the best wine producing region in the world, the Cedar Gables Inn offers the ultimate Napa Culinary Experience: Hands on cooking classes with top notch chefs from the area. Following the class you will enjoy the fruits of your labor by feasting on your creations and delicious wines in the Inn's elegant dining room
The classes are designed for food enthusiasts. The class size is small and intimate and they are designed for hands-on participation. The only requirements are a love for food, cooking and having fun. 1-707-224-7969 or 1-800-309-7969 toll free.

3. House Concerts:
The Cedar Gables Inn has just started the House Concert Series featuring a variety of artists from all over the west coast.

4. Gingerbread House Contest:
Come see the fabulous Gingerbread House Display created by contestants. These delightful Gingerbread Houses will be judged on Saturday December 5 at 1:00PM. The display will be open Saturdays Dec 5, and Dec 12 from 1:00 p.m. till 3PM 3:00 p.m. for you to enjoy. Entertainment will be provided by Jim Maris ( Contact us if you would like to be a contestant

You can still have a Napa Staycation even if you don't live in Napa. Simply rent a home and feel like a wine country native. Surprisingly affordable and folks have lots of insider tips to local events, deals, and activities.

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