This California Wine Region Should Be Experienced From a Local's Point of View

Updated 05/05/19
Things to Do in Napa
@vintnersdaughter

April Gargiulo, the founder of the cult beauty brand The Vintner's Daughter, has spent her entire life in Napa. As the name of her brand would suggest, she grew up on a vineyard in the beautiful California wine country where she still resides today. It's no surprise that her holy grail active botanical serum was created out of her knowledge of the wine business. 

One may think that living in wine country permanently would lead one to enjoy a few too many glasses of wine, but Gargiulo says it's quite the contrary: "While Napa Valley definitely has its fair share of heavy food- and alcohol-fueled events, there is above all else a deep respect for the good life and all that can mean," she told MyDomaine. "From healthy eating to exercise to education and the arts, Napa Valley is a community that is all about keeping life in balance (occasional wine glass included).

Gargiulo's love for Napa runs deep. Now residing there with her husband and her children, she shared her favorite local spots with us. Trust us, you'll want to experience this beautiful wine country from the eyes of a local. These are Gargiulo's favorite things to do in Napa.

Start With a Green Juice at the Oxbow Market

Things to Do in Napa — Oxbow Market
Courtesy of Oxbow Market

"For me, the morning begins with a green jeans juice from my friend Cristina Hudson’s juice shop in the Oxbow Market," says Gargiulo. "My kids and husband are obsessed with the Cristina Cuckoo smoothie. It is made with coconut butter, hemp milk, dates, cinnamon, and protein powder. She gratefully gave us the recipe and promised revenge if it ever got out. There is also a delicious Mexican joint inside the Oxbow called C Casa that makes delicious breakfast tacos."

Get Your Hike on at Skyline Park

Things to Do in Napa — Hiking
To The Wanderer/Getty Images

"There are incredible hiking trails throughout Napa, and the one that I find myself at the most often is Skyline Park," shares Gargiulo. "You pass deer, old stone remains, a gorgeous reservoir, and the most beautiful views await you at the top. Not for the faint of heart is hiking Mount Saint Helena at the north end of the valley. You can see all the way to the ocean on a clear day. Before kids, I did this every Sunday and called it church."

Sample Wines at the Brown Family Tasting Room

Things to Do in Napa — Wine Tasting
Courtesy of Catherine Kwong

"Even for a local, it's fun to visit a few tasting rooms," shares the Vintner's Daughter. "Brown Estate tasting room just opened up in downtown Napa. It's an awesome family making delicious wines in a tasting room that you will want to copy every inch of in your own home. It was designed by another friend, interior designer Catherine Kwong.

"Gargiulo Vineyards, my family’s winery, Promontory, and Spottswoode are all winery tasting experiences worth the call ahead to make an appointment. Some of the very finest cabernet sauvignons in the world are made in Napa Valley, and these wineries live up to the hype."

Make a Pit Stop at Kelley's Filling Station

Things to Do in Napa — Vine Trail
Courtesy of Kelley's Filling Station

"A good way to get around Napa Valley is on a bike, and the Vine Trail runs the length of our beautiful valley," adds Gargiulo. "Think of it as Napa Valley's answer to New York's High Line. It magically winds its way along a north-south axis covered in vines and there is even a sculpture park being developed within its reach.

"Kelley's Filling Station in Yountville is along the Vine Trail route. It is a gas station with really good lattes, and the staff even humors me when I bring in my own matcha."

Find Your Zen at the Indian Springs Natural Baths

Things to Do in Napa — Mineral Hot Springs
Courtesy of Indian Springs

"I love to 'take the waters' at the historic Indian Springs mineral hot springs in Calistoga and maybe even a mud bath too," says the wellness expert. "I am a big believer in the healing powers of minerals, and these baths claim to cure everything from eczema to a sluggish metabolism. Minerals are also a critical part of the Vintner’s Daughter formulation because of what potent skin beautifiers they are."

Hunt for Fresh Produce at Sunshine Foods

Things to Do in Napa — Sunshine Foods
Courtesy of Gargiulo Vineyards

"As evening comes, we stop at the local grocery in St. Helena, Sunshine Foods," says Gargiulo. "It services some of the most discriminating palates in the country and has the freshest, most seasonal produce you can find. We load up and grill or cast iron anything we can with just a bit of olive oil and salt. It is always easy and delicious. Occasionally, local ice cream, Three Twins, finds its way into our shopping basket. They make as good dairy-free ice cream as they do cow milk ice cream."

Eat Your Heart Out at Ciccio's

Things to Do in Napa — Restaurants
Courtesy of Ciccio

"To me, the sleeper meal (the one that no one talks about but the locals know is the best), is the whole fish and negroni bar at Ciccio," says Gargiulo. "It feels like a Fellini film on a Friday night. The energy at my favorite Napa restaurant swirls, and there is always a mix of friends from all over.  All of Napa is what is called 'wine country casual,' which basically means casual but chic, and Ciccio is the perfect example of that."

Explore Napa in Style

Cesta Collective Lunchpail Leather-Trimmed Woven Sisal Bucket Bag $375
Striped Silk Midi Dress
Ganni Striped Silk Midi Dress $900
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Pamela Cat-eye Acetate Sunglasses
Illesteva Pamela Cat-Eye Acetate Sunglasses $220
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Carina Suede Wedge Espadrilles
Castañer Carina Suede Wedge Espadrilles $200
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