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