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Napa Valley Trip

I'm going to Napa in mid-June and have beocm eoverwhelmed by all the choices: where to stay, where to eat, what to drink, what vinyards to hit. I would very much welcome any guidance. I'm going middle of the road re: cost. Meaning, I hope to pay in the 200s for a room, will pay for a good meal, etc.

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  1. Whatever you do, go to Redd in Yountville for dinner. It was the most memorable meal we had while there in March, we dream about the John Dory dish! We also had an excellent time at Shafer Vinyards.

    4 Replies
      1. re: brekkie_fan

        What does John Dory taste like. I've never had it -- or heard of it.

        1. re: bigskymind

          They taste like any other white fish. Maybe I didn't try the correct type of John Dory ... I thought it was fine but nothing to make me go out of my way to order

          1. re: bigskymind

            I love John Dory. To me it tastes a bit like Grouper but less mineral-y, if that makes any sense.

      2. You'll want to check out Ceja Vineyards. The place is comfortable, welcoming and beautiful, not to mention the wines - outstanding wines! Viansa has matured since I found them 9 years ago and their wines are now something to have. Viansa is a bit more touristy - but their Arneis is worth the drive over. Viansa is one of the few vineyards up in that area (maybe in all of California) producing Arneis.

        2 Replies
        1. re: tiamarty

          I heartily agree with Ceja and respectfully disagree about Viansa. Please don't go there; instead seek out a much more enjoyable winery in Napa (Viansa is in lower Sonoma). The Arneis doesn't justify the visit.

          BigSky, the winery and resto options are thoroughly discussed on this board. The info is already here -- just set aside the time, use the search window and do some reading.

          1. re: tiamarty

            New to this website and was happy to see Ceja Vineyard mentioned here. I've been there and it's a sweet place - good wine, great people. Make sure you put them on your places to visit while in Napa.

          2. Yeah, there are a ton of options in Napa for food, wine, etc. Depends on what you like really. We like Paraduxx and Pine Ridge for wine tasting and Cindy's Back Street Kitchen is a great little place in St. Helena to grab lunch or dinner. We have some reviews and what-not here: http://www.uncork29.com/blog/

            1. If you don't know which wineries you like, I suggest you try to get to at least six or more each day to find out what you like. Starting with a champagne house is always good: Schramsberg (high end bubbly), Chandon (beautiful room & good bubbly), Mumm (best patio, great photography & some good bubbly), or S Anderson is another good option. Then pick up a six pack of bottled water, a good loaf of bread, some cheese, maybe some olives and snack as you drive between wineries. Don't waste time on lunch, but look forward to an excellent dinner! Frequent quality snacks and plenty of water (and not loading up at each winery) will help you navigate Hwy29, Silverado Trail et al with a legal BAC.

              Realize that you must pay a bit more to taste the "reserve" or "library" wines at each stop, and that you almost certainly will not get a chance to drink the superstar or cult wines in a tasting room.

              Save Merryvale for your last stop - they're open later than the other tasting rooms.

              The only wineries I visited where I could not find wine I liked are Peju, St Clement (but their Oroppus was delicious and expensive) and V Sattui.

              I like Raymond and Flora Springs enough that I'm in their wine clubs, and I'm going to a winemaker's dinner with Mr & Mrs Raymond this Saturday.

              Napa is overwhelming, but only by experiencing it can you discern what types of places you enjoy. Planning you second trip will be much much easier.

              3 Replies
              1. re: AreBe

                Try 4 wineries per day MAYBE 5 but not 6, you will find yourself rushing when you should be relaxing and enjoying yourself at a slow pace. PLUS you want to be able to stop for lunch.
                Pride Mountain and Terra Valentine have very tasty wine and beautiful views of the valley; Sterling, Chateau Montelena and Clo Pegas all offer tours of their architectually pleasing properties. V. Sattui is great for lunchtime because they have a gourmet deli and lovely picnic area. V Sattui just opened a new winery in an actual Italian castle he had built over the last 10 years in Calistoga. It is AMAZING to visit. Let me know if you want any other recommendations and I can let you know where you can taste for free.

                1. re: fyoulady


                  I would like to know more about the V Sattui castle. Is that at the same location where the winery is?

                1. strongly, strongly recommend these sites:

                  Restaurants: Hurley's in Yontville (excellent wine room), Dry Creek in Healdsburg (part of Hotel Healdsburg, also highly recommended). Stomp in Calistoga.

                  Wineries: Cliff Lede in Calistoga (cool boutique winery), Hanna in Sonoma, Stonestreet in Sonoma (great tasting room and scenery).

                  Hotels: Hotel Healdsburg (fabulous, but a little pricey), Mount View in Calistoga.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: gawain44

                    Cliff Lede is not in Calistoga, it is in Yountville on Yountville Cross Road.

                    1. re: gawain44

                      Healdsburg is not Napa Valley, just to be clear. The OP was asking about Napa Valley. That said, if you want to expand outside of NV, Sonoma Valley is a must, and beyond that, the Healdsburg area is wonderful.

                      If you're planning to be in the area a few days, it's worth spending a day in each area.

                    2. I work in the Napa Valley and lived here my whole life.
                      It can be overwhelming with over 300 wineries. Do you have a type of wine you like? For a room...I personally think staying in St. Helena is the place to be. I would suggest the Vineyard Country Inn, bet room for the price, or Inn at Southbridge. If you want a B&B try Abrose Bierce House, Sunny Acres or Adagio Inn. All within walking distance to downtown.
                      For restaurants, a must is Auberge du Soleil. Even if it is just for cocktails or lunch. They have the best views in the valley and awsome food. In the town of St. Helena I would suggest Martini House, Press, Tra Vinge or Go Fish. In Yountville, try Redd, Ad Hoc, and my personal favorite, Bouchon! Yummmmy. Napa is our city center, there you will find your Targets, Wall Mart etc, some nice restaurants, but for a true Napa Valley experience, you could skip the town of Napa all together. All wonderful. For breakfast, head up to Meadowood and overlook their golf and croquet courses.
                      Wineries: Depends on what YOU like. Cabernets? Go to Stags Leap district and try Pine Ridge, Steltzner and Hartwell. Pine Ridge offers great cooking and wine pairing demos on Sundays which include lunch and wine. Totally Awsome! There is a new beautful winery that just opened after 14 years of construction. Castello di amarosa. It is between St. Helena and Calistoga.
                      One of my favorites is Pride, Burgess is also nice, great views and low key. Viader has an awsome syrah.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: valleygirl707

                        If you're a fan of Viader, here's the email I rec'd about the pouring tomorrow at the Cantinetta. Due to the hours, I'm assuming it's a public tasting.

                        "VIADER is having a fun, casual tasting of our VIADER Proprietary Blend, VIADER Syrah, and our DARE Cabernet Franc as well! Alan Viader will be Pouring on Wednesday May 9th from 6 to 8pm.

                        The pouring will take place in the Cantinetta at Tra Vigne Restaurant on the corner of Charter Oak and Highway 29 in St. Helena."

                        1. re: valleygirl707

                          I could not agree more with the above restaurant ideas: Auberge du soleil for the view at sunset is amazing and they have fun drinks as well.
                          Redd is great and Martini house - both places you can have a really nice lunch at or dinner (to maximize your foodie expierance )
                          At martini house if you like Kobi beef you will love the burger ...sooo good !
                          Lastly i have heard amazing things about Ad hoc from everyone - restaurant reviewers, wine makers and other chefs in the valley - cant wait to try it myself

                          1. re: valleygirl707

                            i'm so confused. i'm planning on taking my husband for his 50th birthday. I don't know if i should stay in napa or sonoma. I'm looking to stay in the $200.00 price range for a hotel/b&b. Any suggestions would be greatly apprciated.

                            1. re: deliacookie

                              Discussion of lodging is off topic for this site. If you have questions about where/what to eat, we'll be happy to answer them for you.

                          2. For an fun day make an early reservation at the dirosapreserve and enjoy an eclectic
                            collection of California art. Follow it up with a lunch in Yountville and hit a few wineries
                            on your way back to your room and rest up for dinner. Usually I just go home after but I'm sure chowhounders have recommendations for a great dinner spot.


                            1. Most of the responses are very informative, but I must say I ate at Redd Thursday night and it was very underwhelming. The halibut was mediocore and my wife's meal was also. It did not help that the waiter could not even smile and be friendly. Terra and Martini House were much better choices for Napa Valley dining.

                              1. Schramsberg has a great tour, but is by appointment only. Beringer's tour is better than most of their wine. Frank Family is relaxed, friendly, fun and free. Rubicon has beautiful grounds, a great building, and tremendous wine, but is costly. For wine and art, try Clos Pegase on the valley floor or Hess up the hillside. Chateau Montelena has some of the most beautiful grounds in the valley. And of course, stopping by Mondavi should be a pilgrimage for any oenophile.

                                For food, you can't go wrong with Bistro Jeanty in Yountville (next to Hill Family Estates, a tasting room and antique shop in one). Arguably the best cassoulet in the states. Also in Yountville, try Bouchon or Ad Hoc. In St. Helena, Martini House is always a winner, as is Terra. And you can't go wrong at any of Cindy Pawlcyn's restaurants. Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, Mustards, or Go Fish. Time for an inexpensive lunch? Don't under any circumstance miss the sweet potato fries at Taylors Refresher in St. Helena.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Scottus

                                  I second the recommendation for Taylor's Refresher - great burgers. I would also go to Redd if for no other reason than the pastry chef - 2nd best dessert experience I have ever had, period. We had very good service there - except at the bar, where the bartender was very very nice, but didn't recommend any of the really interesting cocktails and let my husband and me order a regular old greyhound and a champagne cocktail. It wasn't until we got to the table that we discovered Reddington is a mixologist too, and I would've rather had the cocktail before our dinner started.

                                  For wine, my husband's and my favorite is an unassuming winery on Dry Creek Rd (I'm pretty sure) called by the name of the winemaker, David Coffaro. Absolutely no attitude or smoke and mirrors at all, but some great tasting zins, cabs, and a really nice blend called Block 4, for rock bottom prices for what you get, IMO (between $20 and $35/bottle, futures almost half the price). He let us try futures from the barrels too. Don't expect a big Napa dog and pony show at this winery, but expect generosity, hominess, great wine, and all your questions to be answered. You're basically in his large, temperature-controlled warehouse-garage tasting wine and watching a Raiders game surrounded by barrels if it's football season.