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

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.


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  1. Are you looking for under $30 bottle or tasting?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Paul Maipork

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

    2. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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

                  Good job on that list, Whiner.

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

                  1. re: maria lorraine


                    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

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

                      1. re: Rosetta

                        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

                          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

                            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

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

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

                      1. 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. 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!