I’m gearing up for my holiday shopping! Yes, it’s that time again! I have two goals when I take on this annual task. First, I make it an exploratory outing for myself (no department stores). Second, I challenge myself to find unique and relevant gifts. If I’m having fun, I know I’ll find gifts that will delight my friends and colleagues.
Here in Napa Valley, we have a wealth of unique opportunities. I can make a day of just shopping while wine tasting at some of my favorite wineries (some have exceptional gift shops). And the originality of the boutiques up and down the Valley is a most enjoyable adventure.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Winery gift shops that not only have great wine gift packs and branded items, but also other exceptional gifts:
Inglenook Winery (owned by Frances Ford Coppola) has an extensive collection of very elegant and original gifts. From pashminas, to carved boxes, to Russian painted eggs and books, and so much more. All in this iconic chateau built in 1879. www.inglenook.com
Raymond Vineyards tantalizes with wonderful Baccarat crystal, dramatic jewelry and other tidbits. And the hospitality and environment of the winery is very entertaining. www.raymondvineyards.com
Robert Mondavi Winery has an extensive gift shop with a very broad range of culinary and wine related gifts and you where can enjoy their exceptional wine education. www.robertmondaviwinery.com
airdean Estate’s Redolent Mercantile offers elegant and stylish products to create that unique touch for men’s and women’s wardrobes. www.cairdeanestate.com/Redolent-Mercantile
Hess Collection offers multiple sensory experiences. Enjoy their wine while viewing a revolving art collection that also showcases in museums around the world. And, of course, select some gifts from their well-curated gift shop. www.hesscollection.com
Also unique to Napa Valley are the culinary offerings (some with wine, too).
The V Marketplace at the center of Napa Valley in Yountville is a collective of shops guaranteed to fulfill more than one of the items on your gift list. Within the 1800’s brick two-story former winery resides a variety of shops from art galleries of glass, jewelry, paintings and sculptures to chic clothing, a children’s shop, and enticing home décor items. It has great range. www.vmarketplace.com
While you’re there, stop for lunch at Michael Chiarello’s Napa Style. The shop/bistro is filled with a wonderful lifestyle selection of dishes, glassware, and other tasteful decorative items, as well as culinary bits like seasonings and olive oils. www.napastyle.com
At the V Marketplace is a standout shop for chocolate lovers. Kollars Chocolates are gorgeous to look at and even better to devour. They even have a monthly chocolate club, a great gift for those chocolate fans on your list. www.kollarchocolates.com
Dean & Deluca has mouth-watering gourmet foods, some culinary “tools” as well as an extensive selection of wines. In addition to their selection of gourmet gift baskets, their concierge can help to create custom gift collections. www.deandeluca.com/gourmet-gifts-and-gift-baskets.aspx
Keeping in mind enjoying my experience while finding special gifts, Round Pond Olive Mill rises to the top for purchasing olive oil. Their olive oil tasting (along with wonderful vinegars and syrups, too) is very educational. You’ll have a greater understanding of how to select olive oil anywhere after this experience. And they have very appealing gift packages. www.roundpond.com
Of course, it is essential to mention the true adventure of visiting the Culinary Institute of America (affectionately, known as the CIA, it is a place to enjoy lunch at either the café or the Wine Spectator Greystone restaurant on the premises to fortify you for the extensive browsing in their wonderful culinary store. Also, consider giving the gift of a class or two to your foodie friends.
So, there you have a good start to exploring Napa Valley for a gift shopping “experience”. Why not start now and get a jump on the season! NVL
by Colby Smith, CANVAS