HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
What's your latest food quest? Get great advice

"Don't Miss" Wineries in Napa/Sonoma?

Rosetta May 8, 2007 03:07 PM

Hi all,

We'll be in the area for about 5 days in late June. The number of wineries and options seem overwhelming. Are there any wineries that are recommended for reasonable (under $30) dry reds, especially the cab francs and sauvignons, interesting blends, and perhaps some nice zins and rieslings? If there are some good whites to be found there too, that's a plus, but we're primarily interested in reds. An informal atmosphere, and perhaps a restaurant and/or exceptional grounds and view would work very well, too.


  1. ChefJune May 15, 2007 02:11 PM

    My personal Napa favorites are Chimney Rock, Trefethen, St. Supery, Nichelini (weekends only)

    In Sonoma, I wouldn't miss Iron Horse. Beautiful setting, and delicious wines, imho. not just sparklings...

    Just a note: if you call ahead and make a reservation, some of those places that charge for tastings may just not!

    1. l
      LeslieG May 15, 2007 01:59 PM

      Whatever you do, don't miss the beautiful and idyllic Rubicon Estate winery - formerly and better known as the Niebaum-Coppola Winery (yes, that Coppola). Gorgeous grounds, fountains, and interesting wine country history. Tasty wines and lots of tasting options. They used to have Coppola memorabilia from his movies as well, but don't know if it is still there (he still is an owner, just have changed name for branding).

      1. weinstein5 May 15, 2007 09:12 AM

        For a great Cab - my personal favorite is Silver Oak Cellars - http://www.silveroak.com/

        1. fyoulady May 11, 2007 03:07 PM

          Dont miss Pride Mountain in St. Helena at the top of the Spring Mountain district for great wine and a spectacular view. Napa Valley tastings range from $10- $50 and Sonoma/Russian River are all around $5- $15 if they charge you at all, which many wineries dont.

          1. w
            whiner May 8, 2007 10:19 PM

            Ok, so apparently someone has a problem with me linking to another website, so this is gonna be long...

            For most of these wineries most wines are over $30. But, happily, I don't think any of these people charge for tasting, and frankly, many of them don't have any wine to sell you, anyway; you just taste through a lot of barrels.

            For folks coming to visit, here are some wineries to consider visiting during your stay. I grouped them geographically, but don't plan on more than four appointments a day at the most, which is probably the ideal number of stops. If you find yourself with more time on hand, do couple of walk-ins to kill time.

            Spring Mountain/St. Helena
            Pride Mountain Vineyards - Tim Bouchet - 707.963.4949
            School House Vineyard - Nancy Walker & John Gantner - 707.963.4240
            Sherwin Family Vineyards - Steve Sherwin - 707.963.1154
            Realm - Juan Mercado - 707.695.0219
            Relic Wines - Mike Herby - 707.967.9380
            Smith-Madrone - 707.963.2283
            Paloma - 707.963.7504
            Lewelling Vineyards - David Wight - 707.963.1685
            Revana Family Vineyards & Heidi Barret projects - Todd Newman - 707.967.8814
            Crocker & Starr Wines - Pam Starr - 707.967.9111
            Trespass Vineyard - Don Gallagher - 707.963.0804 New!

            Howell Mountain/Pritchard Hill
            Neal Family Vineyards - Mark Neal - 707.965.2800
            Viader - Delia Viader - 707.963.3816
            Buehler Vineyards - John & Page Buehler - 707.963.2155
            David Arthur - David & Gretchen Long - 707.963.5190
            Seavey Vineyard - 707.963.8339
            Chappellet Winery - 707.963.7136
            Herb Lamb - Jennifer Lamb - 707.967.9752

            Gemstone Vineyards - Paul Frank - 707.944.0944
            Karl Lawrence Cellars - Ric Henry - 707.963.2702
            Kapcsandy Family Winery - Lou & Louis Kapcsandy - 707.948.3107
            Del Dotto Vineyards - Georgia (cave girl) - 707.256.3332
            Portfolio - Genevieve & Luc Janssens - 707.265.6555
            Hartwell Vineyards - 707.255.4269 New!

            I'd add Etude to that list.

            In Sonoma I would reccomend:

            Russian River Valley
            Freeman - Ed Kurtzman - (707) 823-6937
            Sandler - Ed Kurtzman - (415) 225-2891
            August West - Ed Kurtzman - (415) 225-2891
            Martinelli - (707) 525-0570 / open
            Rochioli - (707) 433-2305 / open
            Hartford - (707) 887-8010 / open

            Dry Creek, Healdsburg
            A. Rafanelli - (707) 433-1385
            Rosenblum - (707) 431-1169 / open
            Davis Family Winery - (707) 569-0171 / open

            Kutch - Jamie Kutch - (917) 270-8180
            Kosta Browne - Dan Kosta - (707) 823-7430

            And I'd also add Siduri/Novy, Carlisle, Merry Edwards, Rivers-Marie, and Peay, but I haven't actually visited any of those wineries.

            Contact info for some of those:

            Siduri/Novy: Adam and Diana Lee - 707.578.3882
            Rivers-Marie: Thomas Rivers Brown - 707-942-2172
            Carlisle: Mike and Kendall Carlisle - 707-566-7700
            Peay: Andy Peay - 707-894-8720

            I don't have contact info for Merry Edwards but I absolutely love her wines.

            7 Replies
            1. re: whiner
              maria lorraine May 8, 2007 10:30 PM

              Good job on that list, Whiner.

              Here's Merry Edwards contact: 707-838-9950. Wonderful assortment of Pinot Noirs.

              1. re: maria lorraine
                whiner May 9, 2007 03:42 AM


                I'd also add that Thomas Rivers Brown makes the wines for Outpost and Schrader. His wine are killer but people need to get in touch with him to find out where he is going to be in order to do tastings.

                1. re: whiner
                  Rosetta May 9, 2007 08:01 PM

                  Thanks for all the suggestions, Whiner and everyone.
                  I'm looking forward to a very memorable experience, and appreciate the guidance.

                  1. re: Rosetta
                    jcd May 11, 2007 02:28 PM

                    I just returned from a week in Napa and Sonoma. At your price point, Selby, in Healdsburg, makes some wonderful wine. To Whiner's list, I would also add Gary Farrell in the Russian River Valley, and my personal favorite, Robert Biale, a zin specialist located in Napa.

                    1. re: jcd
                      sgwood415 May 11, 2007 03:11 PM

                      The drive to Gary Farrell will take you past some really great wineries too. You could spend a whole day just doing Westside Road. Definitely go up there if you want to get away from the touristy winery experience.

                      1. re: sgwood415
                        fyoulady May 11, 2007 03:21 PM

                        If you stop by the chamber of commerce in Sebastopol they will give you a Wine Road tasting pass that allows FREE tasting at all the Westside Road Wineries. You can also get a pass at the Holiday Inn Express in Sebastopol on 116

                  2. re: whiner
                    whiner May 15, 2007 09:10 AM

                    For posterity, Thomas also makes Maybach. Forgot about that one and I hear great things.

              2. h
                harrison May 8, 2007 06:07 PM

                I was in napa 10/05 and enjoyed the following:

                frogs leap - nice zin
                peju - i believe a cab franc - but their syrah was nice as well

                1. m
                  mlucier May 8, 2007 04:42 PM

                  I really like the wineries on Silverado trail in Napa. They're less crowded and touristy, and have a slightly more relaxed atmosphere. Specifically, I like Luna Vineyards. They make a great Sangovese, Merlot and Pino Grigio.

                  V. Sattui on highway 29 in Napa is a bit more hectic and definitely more touristy but they have a great selection of rieslings and zins. They also have a picnic grounds and a deli and sometimes have an outside Barbeque. Get there earlier in the day to get a spot before the rush.

                  In Sonoma, St Francis has beautiful grounds and quite a selection of wines to taste.
                  All the tastings are 5 or 10 dollars.
                  Have Fun!

                  1. l
                    LMT May 8, 2007 03:59 PM

                    I'll second Cline. Excellent variety of zins to taste, and a very nice (not pretentious) winery.

                    I worked in Napa for about a year, but I always liked the more laid-back Sonoma wineries.

                    1. z
                      zin1953 May 8, 2007 03:53 PM

                      Sonoma is generally much more informal that Napa, and Sonoma is the place to go for Zinfandel. If you go to the tow nof Healdsburg, a lot of tasting rooms are right on or just off the square. Also, you can stop by Ridge without going to the Santa Cruz Mtns. by going to their Lytton Springs facility.

                      The best Riesling in the area is from Smith-Madone on Spring Mountain Rd.

                      Cabernets, you can obviously take your pick between the two counties. Lots of great Cabernet Sauvignons . . . not many good Cab Francs (IMHO) from the area.

                      1. j
                        Jeni Bean May 8, 2007 03:39 PM

                        I just went to Cline this last weekend. Their tasting is complementary except for the reserve stuff on the back, which is $1 per taste. The people guiding you through the tastings are nice and I like a lot of their products. Really loved the 4Whites to go with Indian or Thai food. They also have a great picnic area and their grounds, in general, are nice.


                        1. p
                          Paul Maipork May 8, 2007 03:16 PM

                          Are you looking for under $30 bottle or tasting?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Paul Maipork
                            Rosetta May 8, 2007 03:22 PM

                            Thanks for the reply, Paul.
                            Under $30 per bottle - reasonable tasting fee suggestions are most welcomed, too!

                          Show Hidden Posts