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Jan 16, 2002 10:42 PM

Help! ... Napa, Sonoma or other?

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We are receiving a special gift of a 'getaway' trip to the wine country sometime after March 1 (but of course I want to start planning right away. We had our choices of places to go ie. Whistler, and other NW places, and we want to go to the wine country, plus maybe San Francisco). If you had to choose, where would you stay, where would you dine? We're not sure whether to concentrate in Napa Valley or Sonoma or another valley, or try to make a combination. This is a retirement gift, and we are from Seattle.

ps..if we fly in, does it make more sense to fly into Oakland rather than San Francisco, and thus (hopefully) avoid fog related delays, cancellations, etc?

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  1. I highly recommend the Ink House Inn in St. Helena. It's in the Napa Valley, but more centrally located than Napa itself. It's between Calistoga, Yountville & Kenwood. Here's a page about the Ink House Inn:

    I'm a vegetarian, so I recommend checking out Greens at Fort Mason in San Francisco. You'll probably want to make reservations for a weekend night, but weekdays you can usually get in with no problem. The food is FABULOUS!

    It's usually cheaper to fly into Oakland and, if you're renting a car, it's actually an easier drive to the Napa Valley than from SFO. SFO doesn't have as many delays as the news makes it sound, so if you have a great fare into SFO, I say go for it. At the very worst, you might be diverted to Oakland or San Jose, but they do rent cars in both those airports! Have a great trip!!

    3 Replies
    1. re: SFvalkyrie

      Agreed. If you can, fly into Oakland. If you're going to the wine country, you don't have to deal with the Bay Bridge and the airport is MUCH easier to get around.

      In Napa County, I'd recommend the Vintage Inn in Yountville. In Sonoma County, the Gaige House in Glen Ellen.

      1. re: Hunter

        You may not have thought of flying into Sacremento. It takes no longer to drive to Napa than from Oakland, and might be even less time due to traffic on Int. 80 or 680. It's an almost stress-free flying experience and we have flown from Sac to Seattle.

        The down side is that if you are looking for a good place to eat on the way, your choices are better between Oakland and the wine country.

        Where to stay and eat? That depends on your budget.
        Duchamp in Healdsburg is really special, very European. In St. Helena, one of the most affordable places is the El Bonita motel. It's nice and on the main drag (Hwy 29). The Inn at Southbridge is more expensive but an easy walking distance from anywhere downtown.

        You might want to walk to two of St. Helena's best restaurants, Terra and the Martini House. Both excellent. A drink at the Auberge is good advice, but not dinner or even lunch if it is no better than the last time I was there. Don't miss a trip to the CIA at Greystone.

        You have so many good choices, but do your homework to get the best out of your trip.

        Oh yes, and try to take 128 through the Alexander Valley when driving from Napa Co. to Sonoma Co.

        1. re: Ann Leneave

          Hunter, Ann, SFval....thank you for all the great suggestions. Much appreciated! Let me know if I can return the favor if you're ever coming up to the Seattle area.

    2. What a great dilemma to have! You can do both without a problem (very close geographically). Big difference though. Napa is "fancy" - beautiful wineries, houses, a lot of money. Sonoma is more "homey" - dirt roads, more "family" wineries, beautiful country though. Both have wonderful restaurants. Don't miss Auberge d' Soliel for sunset drinks on the patio, French Laundry, Bistro Jeanty/Bouchon or CIA-Greystone in Napa County (not in Napa)and Glen Ellen Inn, John Ash, or Bistro Ralph in Sonoma County (not in Sonoma).