Gluten Free Travel: Napa Edition
Whether you’re new to living gluten free or have been successfully navigating the gluten free world for a while, gluten free travel can be a challenge. Every new destination and mode of transportation brings with it hurdles or even seemingly insurmountable road blocks.
I’ve been living and traveling gluten free since 1999 (wow, I’m getting old in this gluten free life), and still learn new tricks and creative solutions on every gluten free travel adventure I take. Join me on my latest gluten free trip to Napa, California, as I share how I traveled to, from and while on this year’s Gluten Free Blogger Retreat.
Admittedly, traveling with 9 other seasoned gluten free friends is a rarity — daresay a luxury — and this is only the second time our group has met like this, however the tips I’ll share are generally applicable no matter where you’re headed. (Also see my post: Top 9 Gluten Free Travel Tips)
On to Napa, California!
Gluten Free Plane Travel
The first and perhaps most important thing to always remember is that you need to pack your own food! Planes, trains, automobiles, ships … it doesn’t matter. You can pack your own food and you should! Food is perfectly acceptable to pass through TSA security (as are ice and gel packs to keep them cold), but not liquids.
As far as liquids go, they must be in 3.4-ounce (100 milliliters) or smaller containers. A “liquid” for the purposes of TSA is anything you can squirt, spray or spread, even including condiments like peanut butter, salad dressing and gravy.
The total volume of all liquids in these 3.4-ounce containers must fit into one clear quart-sized plastic bag, and there’s only one such plastic bag allowed per passenger. There are some exceptions for liquid medications, formula, breast milk and juice for travelers flying with infants.
That means that for the most part, you need to pack your carry-on salad separate and apart from your dressing, and your apples in a separate container from your SunButter, or you risk having the whole kit and kaboodle confiscated at the security checkpoint.
Many companies are starting to make travel packs that make this process much easier: Justin’s Nut Butters sells packets; SunButter sells On-the-Go cups; San-J sells travel packs of gluten free tamari. Once again, plan in advance and so much is possible!
I always always always pack gluten free food when I travel. Anything from homemade gluten free Pad Thai (yes, yes I do, and it makes other passengers jealous) to homemade gluten free muffins to snack mix, granola bars and protein bars. I wouldn’t pack soup, but get creative with other leftovers or baked goods so you don’t get hungry on the plane.
Most airlines don’t serve complimentary snacks that are gluten free (or remotely nutritious), so don’t rely on them to to feed you on a long flight. One current exception is Delta Airlines which is offering Kind Bars on many flights!
As an aside, I also always choose the window if I can. I don’t want to miss views like this!
Do you choose the window seat, too? This was one of my favorite views from this flight. It was somewhere over Nevada … I think:
Ok, back to the sustenance!
For this trip, I packed some yummy new nut mixes I discovered from Harper & Soul Provisions. I would have packed more, but hubby got to them first.
I also brought along some Enjoy Life Foods Breakfast Ovals. I was traveling at a ridiculously early hour and going east to west coast always takes longer, so I packed extra! Enjoy Life was a sponsor* of our Gluten Free Blogger Retreat and I was happy to have them — these Breakfast Ovals are like having a portable bowl of oatmeal, and they use purity protocol gluten free oats!
Because it was such a long flight, I also baked gluten free muffins. I took some for myself, but perhaps more importantly I left some behind for my family so they wouldn’t miss me as much (at least that’s what I told myself).
I love my new packaging for my gfJules Muffin Mix because it doubles as the perfect container for a jumbo muffin!
No smooshed muffins in my travel bag this time, and then I can toss (*recycle) the container when I arrive.
I also used the gfJules Pancake/Waffle Mix container to store extra gluten free pancakes I made on our trip this summer! So handy!
In order to stave off the migraines I inevitably get when flying, I also used KidzShake SportzPure Electrolyte Packets and Pedialyte Electrolyte Packets. It really helps to keep you hydrated, particularly while flying.
Once I arrived in California, I opened my checked baggage and grabbed my favorite portable protein shake: OWYN (Only What You Need) cold brew coffee.* It was the perfect way to wake up, get some energy and be ready to face a full day.
(If you’d like to try OWYN for yourself, use code GFJULES20 for 20% of all orders $25 or more!)
Inn on Randolph, Napa California
Where I was headed was a lovely B&B in Napa, California called the Inn on Randolph. It’s an entirely gluten free bed and breakfast — talk about luxury! I didn’t even know this was a thing, but now I’m wondering why they’re not everywhere?
The Inn on Randolph was also one of our Retreat sponsors* and they spoiled us!
From the tray that greeted me in my room …
to the gluten free cookies displayed daily with coffee …
to the 5 course gluten free breakfast the first morning (this was the first course) …
at a pretty table with my name card (I felt very special, but actually we all had them).
And look at the breakfast I missed since I had to join late due to a medical emergency: Gluten Free Bread Pudding made with another retreat sponsor, Canyon Gluten Free Bakehouse bread.*
The Inn was just magic. It has 10 separate rooms (including small cottages) and each has their own bathroom and in-suite gas fireplace. It’s a gorgeous setting and within easy walking distance of the town of Napa, where I found my favorite 100% gluten free restaurant of the trip!
C Casa in Napa boasts of its entirely gluten free menu, and it makes easy accommodations for vegan or dairy-free requests. It’s in an upscale food court called Oxbow Public Market that’s worth a visit on its own.
It’s next door to the Culinary Institute of America, but we actually made a pilgrimage to the other CIA in wine country, in a castle called Greystone. I mean, it’s in a castle, folks. Definitely worth a stop if you’re anything of a foodie like I am!
Some other culinary highlights were the first dinner there at Ad Hoc in Yountville.
It’s a meat-heavy menu, but this little guy had nothing to worry about from me …
The menu is not entirely gluten free, but they were very happy to accommodate our group with modifications.
While I enjoyed multiple helpings of this delicious salad …
Most of our group feasted on gluten free fried chicken!
After our meal, they were gracious enough to give us a tour of the kitchen where we thanked the chefs in person.
Another day’s lunch took us to Bouchon Bistro down the street. It’s also not a dedicated gluten free restaurant, but they were eager to serve us and modified dishes where necessary.
Here’s a peek at the famous garden that supplies chef Thomas Keller’s restaurant The French Laundry, just a bit further down the street. The chefs are enjoying a snack before the dinner crush.
I didn’t dine here, but Chandice from This Vivacious Life and Erin from Meaningful Eats did. Check out their social media for reviews of this once-in-a-lifetime meal! (I went back for more gluten free tacos from C Casa!)
To find restaurants like these — whether they are entirely gluten free or offer a gluten free menu — I always turn to crowd sourcing for honest results. A great place to start is FindMeGlutenFree, but there are other apps and on-line reviews that make gluten free travel so much easier. Comment below if there’s another app or website you like to use!
Just because a restaurant boasts of a gluten free menu does NOT automatically mean that it is safe for you to eat there, nor does it mean that you don’t still have to ask lots of questions.
Gluten Free Wine Tastings
In case you’re wondering, yes! Of course we did some wine tastings. We were in Napa, after all!
Our first was at a stunningly gorgeous vineyard called Round Pond Estate Winery.
We couldn’t resist taking photos all over the grounds around the tasting room. I’m not one for selfies, but with this background, anyone looks good!
Ok enough with the selfies … for now.
The important thing to note about doing a wine tasting when you’re gluten free is not whether the wine is gluten free or not (wine is gluten free — read more here), it’s what do you use to “cleanse your palate” between tastings?
This is where thinking ahead always helps, since most wineries will offer you some sort of glutenous cracker, or if you’re lucky, nuts (maybe ok maybe not, depending on whether anyone you’re with has a nut allergy and whether they’re plain gluten free nuts or flavored and maybe no longer gluten free). Again, just bring your own and know that you’re safe.
We packed retreat sponsor Schar Gluten Free* crackers for our wine tastings and they were the perfect solution!
Our next tasting was at Mumm Napa and we all tasted sparkling wine options.
They even had non-alcoholic offerings for those in the group who preferred. Michelle from My Gluten-Free Kitchen loved it!
The final wine tasting stop of the day was so spectacular on the outside, that I never even made it in for the tasting.
Castello di Amorosa is an authentically styled castle winery modeled after 13th century Tuscan architecture, and spanning 121,000 square feet (three acres!) with 107 rooms, four underground levels, and four above-ground levels.
It was built over the course of 15 years out of 8,000 tons of hand-chiseled local stone and nearly one million antique bricks imported from Europe. It truly looks the part of an historic medieval castle, with a moat, drawbridge, five towers, defensive ramparts, courtyards and loggias, a chapel, stables, an armory, and even a torture chamber.
I’m just disappointed I didn’t have time to see the torture chamber. Next time!
The grounds at this winery were truly extraordinary, with vineyards a plenty, plus Guinea Hens, goats and even an emu for good measure. We had so much fun exploring that we didn’t have time to go inside to taste the wines or visit the 107 room castle, but it’s just another reason for me to go back.
Although we only had a day of winery visits, we made the most of it, carting our gluten free crackers along for the ride.
Many thanks to our sponsors for this year’s Gluten Free Blogger Retreat. Doesn’t it look like we had fun? We didn’t miss a beat traveling gluten free and you shouldn’t either!
Please feel free to comment below with any questions you might have about our stops along the way, foods I packed, restaurants we visited, or the Inn at Randolph.
Have you been to Napa? Do you travel gluten free often or are you wary of going too far from home on a gluten free diet? Don’t let dietary restrictions hold you back: if this trip is any indication, you can and should get out and enjoy!
With some advance planning and research, you’re never far from a safe gluten free option (even if it’s just in your suitcase!). So get out and enjoy yourself on your next gluten free travel adventure!
Other Gluten Free Blogger Retreat Members:
- Allergy Free Alaska
- Celiac and the Beast
- Flippin’ Delish
- Gluten Free Palate
- Meaningful Eats
- My Gluten-Free Kitchen
- Sarah Bakes Gluten Free
- This Vivacious Life
- Vegetarian Mamma