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Winery Recs Napa Valley

We're heading to Napa Valley for a very brief 3-4 day rest the week of July 4th. Will be there 1/2 day on the 3rd (driving from Monterey, with a stop in Santa Rosa to the Schultz Museum - a "must" as we're Peanuts Nuts), and will be checking out on Friday, the 6th and heading back to NJ on the red eye, so we do have most of Friday available to us.

Anyhoo - while we aren't huge drinkers but we do have some knowledge and appreciation of wines, me more so and would like to visit a few wineries - but it isn't our main focus. We're coming to relax, do some photography, have some spa treatments, eat good food, etc.

This being said, it matters that we make the most of the few days we have there and we're not looking to just spend these days driving from winery to winery - but would like to see a few.

I particularly enjoy Zin. Ravenswood, Ridge, Rosenblum, Renwood - you know, all those "R"'s come to mind not that there aren't others :-) Unfortunately several of my favorites are not in the area (Renwood obviously is one). My husband is more of a Merlot drinker and we both enjoy Pinot Noirs when they are less tannic/oakey. Not big on whites in general other than Savignion Blanc, do like this quite a bit and both of us enjoy champagne/sparkling wines.

Anway, if anyone could recommend a few places (maybe 3-4) specifically in Napa Valley worth checking out, I'd really appreciate it. We'd prefer not to go out of the area only because of how little time we have. Maybe one in Santa Rosa too since we'll be there Tuesday afternoon.

We would consider Sonoma of course, that's close enough. Historic wineries, interesting architecture, lovely gardens that have a strong focus on Zins in particular, would be a plus. If I'm going to do any tasting, I'd rather taste what I prefer and might purchase. I know the focus on Zins could be a problem since my understanding of it is most of this grape is not grown in this region.

Hope this is the right board to pose this question :-)

Thanks!

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  1. I would stop at Dutch Henry (I like buying unique bottles that you can't buy elesewhere), Miner (they make some very robust wines), Segehesio (in Sonoma, maybe another CH'er can advise as to how far from Napa), Niebaum - Coppola (a tourist destination, but when in Rome !), and Edgewood (they were bought out in the last few years, but the Zins and other wines are very good), and Buehler. Being from Vermont (the land of no traffic), my advice would be to try and stay off of Rte 29, go early, and drive to your furtheset destination of the day and work your way back to the hotel.

    5 Replies
    1. re: TonyO

      Is that the same Dutch Henry that makes olive oil too? We could kill two birds with one stone on that one - we're big on olive oil and I wanted to do one of those tours if possible

      We definately intended to go to Niebaum, that one I couldn't pass up, touristy as it is. The estate/grounds are just too impressive.

      Thanks for the rec about staying off 29 and starting off early. We tend to get up pretty early, even when on vacation so heading to the furthest and working back as you suggested should work really well for us.

      1. re: sivyaleah

        Just as a clarification:
        Niebaum-Coppola is no more; it has now morphed itself into Rubicon Estate, which promotes Coppola's high-end wines and charges $25 at the gate to merely enter the property and taste a few wines that do not command that price of admission. Coppola's new winery is still being refurbished in the former Chateau Souverain winery.
        Edgewood is no more. It is now Hall Winery; try it if you like; there are many more interesting wineries.
        Seghesio is the proper spelling.
        Since you love Zins, my suggestion is to explore the Dry Creek area on the day you visit Santa Rosa. That area is a premier area for Zins. Lots of maps available online, and many detailed road maps are free when you arrive in that area.

        1. re: maria lorraine

          That's a shame about Coppola. Maybe he needs to make another Godfather movie !

          1. re: TonyO

            Dont' worry about Coppola. The Napa property is still his but now exclusive to Rubicon and his associated high-end wines. He bought the Sonoma-based Souverain property for his more moderate labels. He's not hurting, though $25 at the gate is certainly not the most inviting number I've heard, though it doesn't stop Opus One.

        2. re: sivyaleah

          Yes, the same Dutch Henry. Their wine vinegar is also quite good. A very casual laid-back winery...nice place to visit.

      2. Zins are more Sonoma -- I would check out Carlisle (appt only, I believe) and Rosenblum in Healdsburg (walk-in).

        Pinot in the style youare talking about, I would check out Freeman and August West (by appt) -- also try the Sanler Zin made there (all same winemaker, same location). Also in Sonoma. (by appt only)

        Both Zin and Pinot -- and Cab -- contact Thomas Rivers Brown. He has half a billion projects going on at once -- he could be anywhere in Napa or Sonoma given the day.

        Also open to the public -- and a very pretty building -- Hartford Family wines, in Sonoma, again. Make both good Pinot and good Zin.

        7 Replies
        1. re: whiner

          I didn't know Rosenblum was in Healdsburg, excellent!

          I don't think I'll bother with making appointments this trip, only because we don't want to be tied down to specific timetables, we really want to keep things loose. We'll have to save that kind of thing for when we can be there for a full week. But, I'll check out Hartford for sure. That seems to be rather near Santa Rosa, maybe we'll stop there on the way to the Schultz Museum. Thanks!

          1. re: sivyaleah

            Hartford is a great rec. As in Rosenblum.

            Are you staying in Napa? I ask because you may wish to save your Peanuts museum visit for the day you visit Dry Creek for Zins, Hartford, etc. We are talking about a fair amount of driving from Napa Valley.

            1. re: maria lorraine

              We're doing the Peanuts museum on our way to Napa, Tuesday. We're leaving Monterey early and heading straight to Santa Rosa, spending the day there and then heading to Napa, since we can't check into the hotel until 4pm anyway. I saw your post above about getting the maps when we arrive in the area. So I think we'll try and do the museum as early as it opens, and leave the rest of the afternoon open to (hopefully) pop into 1 or 2 wineries while there - and find someplace wonderful to have lunch too. Any good ideas for food in the area?

              Thanks for all the clarifications!

              BTW, do you know what the approx. driving time is from Santa Rosa to Napa? About an hour or so? Thanks again.

              1. re: sivyaleah

                I would suggest a slight shift in plans. I think it too much driving, too big a day, to land in SF, drive north to Santa Rosa for the Peanuts museum, then up to Healdsburg, have lunch, then backtrack south to Napa Valley.

                My suggestion for your first day would be to head to Napa, have lunch, tour around, taste at a couple of wineries, de-camp at your hotel, and have dinner. You may like Frog's Leap Winery a great deal, in Rutherford, run by the lovely and funny John Williams. He makes a pretty good Zinfandel (and other wines) and is fairly knowledgeable about great fruit farming/winegrowing. Seems like the whole staff has fun. In the big red barn on Rutherford Rd. with the frog windvane.

                On a separate day, I would make the drive north out of Napa, following 29 north to 128 and then taking that breathtaking drive into Healdsburg. Hit the Healdsburg Square for tastings and lunch, then over to the backroads of Dry Creek Valley for more Zins. In the afternoon, take the easy skip south on 101 to Santa Rosa/Peanuts Museum, and from there over the big hill (via Calistoga Rd./Petrified Forest Rd.) into Calistoga and northern Napa Valley. That last leg there should be 45 minutes, about another 45 minutes to get into Napa city proper. Be sure to check out the Silverado Trail wineries too. The roads of Napa are arranged like a ladder -- two major parallel roads, with crossroad "rungs." Easy to get around and cut off to the over if there's traffic.

                I know you've received great tips on restos in Napa Valley from your post about those on the San Fran Bay Board. Whiner gives lots of good recs both on restos and wineries and you could just click on his name to get more tips from him. (Assuming he's a him, sorry W. if not!)

                1. re: maria lorraine

                  NO, not going from SF. We're in Monterey first. We're driving from Monterey to Santa Rosa as a stop on our way to Napa. We intend to leave our hotel in Monterey early in the morning, get to museum when it opens at 11am, spend an hour there (I can't imagine it take that long) have a quick lunch in SR (nothing elaborate) and hit maybe 1 good winery there - then head to Napa around 5ish).

                  Doable? The reasons for this too is Wednesday is a complete dead day for us as we're booked for a massage at 11am, and are just spending the day relaxing and preparing for our wine train trip later in the day (this, is a HUGE concession on my part for my husband because he's a big vintage train buff - but its the 4th of July and they are doing a special run stopping at Domaine Chandon to see their fireworks).

              2. re: maria lorraine

                Maria,

                Can you please check out my post this morning? I'm going to Napa this weekend and have put together an itinerary on wineries and restaurants. I've since added Miner Family, Paloma, and Frank Family. Other wineries I intend to visit include Mumm, Duckhorn, Milat, Consentino, Terra Valentine and Joseph Phelps.

                Best.
                Flyn

                1. re: FDawson

                  Looks good, Flyn. The weather is wonderful now. Mumm is fun, especially sitting on their outdoor terrace with a sweeping view of the valley, though you might call Schramsberg once you're here to see if anything has opened up. Phelps and Duckhorn are not to be missed.

                  By the way, tasting room employees know the valley's wines pretty well...what you might do when you find a wine you like is to ask the TR employees "Who else makes a beautiful cab in this price range?" "What other wineries are your favorites?" Wineries often exchange complimentary tasting passes with each other to give to customers. Also, check the posts/recs of whiner, zin1953, and bill hunt -- they know what they're talking about.

          2. Miner and Sinsky both make nice wines and are a hop and skip from each other on the Silverado Trail. And we were pleasantly surprised by the pricest of the Beringer tastings (its in a separate place from the other stuff).

            1. As others have pointed out, Zins are more likely to be found in Sonoma, Amador, Lodi and not so often in Napa. That being said, you need to do Milat Winery. Yeah, I know, you have never heard of it. Well, they were the eucalyptus note in Silver Oak Napa for years, until Justin Meyer stepped back, prior to his death and Milat began operation as a winery, not just a vineyard. They are on the west-side of 29, right about the Oakville Cross (not the Oakville Grade, over to Sonoma). They do Cabs, Merlots and Zins (plus a few others), and their Napa Zins are very good. Their Cabs and Merlots are great! Small, family-owned and the guy behind the counter will probably be Dan Duckhorn's (Napa Merlot fame) son, David, who married into the Milat family and is their director of marketing. Great wines, great vineyards and more like Amador, than what Napa has become. Do not expect an architectural experience, just enjoy the wines. Nice grub is available at the Oakville Grocery, about 1 mile away. There are many more, but you've gotten enough info to last you the trip.

              Most of all, enjoy,
              Hunt

              9 Replies
              1. re: Bill Hunt

                Just stayed in napa in May and by far schramsberg was my fave. It's one of the only champagne wineries and it was an incredible tasting. Make an appt. We all enjoyed Peju that was fun and then there is an italian winerey that was built brick by brick and I am blanking on the name.

                Coppola/rubicon was not worth it. I seem to have the same palate as you and didn't enjoy the wines at all.

                eat at Redd if you want the best meal ever. we did the 5 course chef tasting and we all agreed the best meal ever eaten.

                1. re: drewb123

                  Two of the best tours we took were at the Gloria Ferrer wine caves (sonoma) and the Phelps vineyards, both very in depth. The great part of the Ferrer tour was at the end, sitting on a patio overlooking the vineyard, drinking sparkling whites with their special spiced nuts!. Also while you're inapa and you want a great experience, check this place out. We did and loved it.
                  http://www.goldenhaven.com/

                  Have a great time.

                  1. re: jnk

                    Oh so much to do so little time! I had come across Golden Haven in my spa searching online. My husband and I are very much into the whole spa thing.

                    We only have 3 days, maybe 4 in Napa (I have a friend in SF we're trying to hook up with on the last day, but he also lives part time in Tuscon so he might not be around). I'm seriously thinking of asking my husband if we can change our plans and forsake Monterey completely this trip. Monterey wasn't a choice for me, he's the one who wanted to go there too and I really thought trying to do both with such little time made no sense and the more I read about Napa and surrounds the more convinced I am of this.

                    I'm gonna have to do some real sweet talking on this one...

                    1. re: sivyaleah

                      If you have fun, and I'm sure that you will, you might want to do a week in early Feb. and really do some tasting. Hwy 29 will be empty, as will the TRs. The folk there will LOVE to have you and likely pull out some surprises from the "library." I try to get up that way, before the Mustard Festival kicks off, and do some serious tastings.

                      Hunt

                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        I'll tell ya, coming out there in February sounds fantastic - it will be the dead of winter here in the northeast and while I know the weather there won't be "perfect" it sure will beat snow and ice! I'll have to keep that in mind.

                        1. re: sivyaleah

                          Hey, tasting wine in a friendly TR with a light mist falling and needing a sweater to stay warm, is pretty nice. You have to remember, though, I'm coming from "Sunny Arizona," so some fog and cool is something that I miss from other areas of the US! The only downside is that some of the restaurants close, so it might pay to call and secure reservations. Though they will likely not be filled, there will likely be fewer open.

                          OTOH, late Feb, driving down from SF to LA, before heading East to PHX, the orchards along I-5 are in full bloom, as far as the eye can see. A sight to behold. It makes the full-day drive from SF to PHX worth every moment, even with the LA traffic!

                          Besides, the folk at the wineries will give you undivided attention. This is something that they cannot do with the crush of the Summer, and early Autumn.

                          Hunt

                  2. re: drewb123

                    With regards to the Coppola wines, the only one that I have ever enjoyed has been the Rubicon, but for the $, I'd rather have Insignia, Diamond Creek, and many, many others. All of the rest (portfolio tasting a few years back, so changes could well have been made since) were not impressive enough for me to ever purchase, at almost any price-point.

                    Another that I like is St. Clement (now part of, and next door to, Beringer, via Beringer-Blass). Very good wines, that one does not see every day, and the neatest TR folk, you're likely to meet in Napa.

                    Do not know Redd, but it's been a while, since we did more than a day trip from SF, or Sacramento, so a lot has probably changed. I'll add them to my list.

                    Hunt

                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      I met my husband on the porch at St. Clement. Every year on our anniversary we drink a bottle of Orropas. By the way it was the last week in January that we were there.

                      1. re: chickstein

                        Hey, great minds must gravitate to neat architecture in Napa, with good wine, at "odd times" of the year! Very good wine (though I have not done a tasting, since Beringer-Blass), great people, and a neat building. After three days of tastings, I took my wife back on her one half-day off, just because of the building - oh, and the wine, and the people in the tasting room...

                        Hunt

                2. I second the Schramsburg tasting -- very educational as well. It's fun to ride the tram at Sterling Vineyards and Cliff Lede has some amazing artwork -- nothing like a glass of their bubbly on a hot day.

                  1. Keeping in mind that Zin is number one on your list of particular favorites, I'd suggest:

                    - Biale (Big Ranch Rd. in Napa) by appointment

                    - Chase Family Cellars (St. Helena) by appointment. I think their Zins can be a bit pricey, but they're good.

                    - Ehlers Estate (St. Helena) no appointment needed. They do a Zin, but also a Merlot, Cab Franc, Cab Sauv and Sauv Blanc, all of which are very good.

                    - The Terraces (St. Helena) by appointment. An ATV tour of the property, including the old stone quarry, the "ghost" winery and tasting in the balasamic vinegar acetaia. Oh yeah, and Zin, Cab Sauv and Chard too.

                    Also, you may want to check out the Silverado Trail Winery Assocation map, which lists the varietals produced by each of the member wineries.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Ruby Louise

                      Thanks for those names, all within easy distance to where we're staying.

                      Think I'll skip the ATV tour - last time I was on one - it flipped over, I wound up sliding off the ATV, slamming flat on my ass into the hard sand (it was in OBX, NC) with the ATV sticking head up, motor still running. Freaking ATV tour guide didn't even realize I'd flipped over and kept going with the rest of the group! Thought it was going to roll onto of me for sure. Managed to get out from under the part which was kind of over me. Good thing my husband was on it with me and he managed to not get a scrape, because to add insult to injury he landed ontop of me too. Thankfully he was able to flag down the group at some point on the trail.

                      Never knew a butt could black and blue so much. I'm getting too old for that nonsence :-)

                      I'll look up the map too!

                      1. re: sivyaleah

                        I should point out that at The Terraces, your guide (probably Nate) will do all the ATV driving, and you are a passenger in a covered little vehicle.

                        1. re: Ruby Louise

                          Much more gentile and safe :-) Would change my mind for sure!

                          1. re: sivyaleah

                            Yes, no yarmulkes while all-terraining!

                            1. re: maria lorraine

                              LOL - that was some spelling error! Where was that "edit" button when I really needed it?

                      2. Visit Venge. Small winery. Unfortunatley their late harvest zin is sold out. But, maybe if you asked nice...

                        http://www.vengevineyards.com/

                        13 Replies
                        1. re: ocaladevil

                          ooooh...Venge Scout's Honor is an express train to heaven...primarily Zin with Petite Sirah and Charbono. But just about everything Nils Venge makes is terrific. He has two wineries (soon more): Venge and Saddleback, both in Napa Valley. Good rec. Hmmm, you might be able to blow off Dry Creek Valley/Healdsburg with all these good Napa Valley Zinfandel recs. Might save on headaches and driving, too, and allow you to anchor yourselves in Napa Valley once you're here for your short visit. Sounds best. I might shift your massage appt. to early evening, however, to be able to get out into the day. I live in Napa Valley; you can email me (address on profile) for more specifics, driving etc. if you wish.

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            Maria, we are going with another couple to Napa and have 2 days set aside with them to see Napa wineries and 1 day for Sonoma. I like big chards and they like Pinots.What wineries do you recommend in both areas not only for the wines but scenery? My choices so far in Napa are: Etude, Artesa, Jarvis, Darioush, Vinecliff, Miner, Sinsky, Phelps, Barnett, Duckhorn,Rombauer, Frank. In Sonoma: Siduri, Martinelli, Marimar Torees, Gary farrell, Papapietro-Perry. Any other suggestions or comments on my current choices would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

                            1. re: pof

                              Some good choices. I'd budget a bit more time to J. Phelps - maybe do two tastings, as they alternate several themes during the day. Some of the wines will likely overlap, but the presentation and info will definitely be different. As I'm a member of their club, I've been invited to three, in a day, and each was different, and each was worthwhile.

                              I'd also suggest a trip up into the Mayacaymus Mountains to visit Cain. Gotta' make an appointment, but it is well worth the effort. Caymus is another on that list. With a little effort and a few calls, you can do some great tastings.

                              In general, I try to limit myself to 4/day and have a designated driver. Beyond that, it all becomes too much of a blur.

                              Hunt

                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                Bill, Thanks for your suggestions. We will defintely go to Phelps and I'll investigate the others.

                                1. re: pof

                                  Phelps is wonderful- very good wines in a pretty setting. And if you're looking for scenery, you might try a quick stop for lunch at the Auberge au Sol (something very like this) which is close by. You can sit out on the porch and look out over the mountains/vineyards - absolutely gorgeous.

                                  1. re: pof

                                    Get good directions, to the nearest 0.1 mile. the turn, off of Silvarado Trail is very, very easy to miss. Having been there a dozen times, I often have to turn around once, or twice.

                                    Hunt

                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                      Phelps is on Taplin Road off of Silverado Trail, just north of Zinfandel Lane and just south of Pope Street. Call and make an appointment.

                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                        Maria,

                                        Have they enlarged the road sign lately? I should be able to find it blindfolded, but pass it by, especially if heading N on Silverado. I would hope that MapQuest, or similar, had the exact odometer readings. It's especially disconcerting to be poking along with the curves on Silverado Trail, looking for a lane, with trucks and semi-drunken wine tourers flying along. Next time, I will count the .001s of a mile to the turn!

                                        Thanks for stressing the appointment. I think that I had forgotten that part. Also, I find it a good thing to make appointments some time out, and keeping to these. Yeah, it's nice to just drive along 29, or Silverado, with no mission, and pop into the first cute winery, but so many have gone to appt. and I really like that. It also helps to budget one's time - 4 tastings, is about ideal. One only needs ONE winery tour per trip, unless there is something historic to gain.

                                        Hunt

                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                          Big ole green sign. Four-tenths of a mile north of Zinfandel Lane. Next time you're here, rather than you craning your neck to find the road sign (actually it's not that hard), you can follow my car.

                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                            I'd do so gladly! Don't know why it so hard for me to find, even when they are the first tasting of the day. Heck, I can find Cain, in my sleep, and it isn't that easy. I still find it an easier task, heading South, though you have to turn across traffic. Maybe next time we go, we'll just program it into my wife's auto, and let "Helga" tell us where to turn. Only problem is that her auto cannot hold the # of styro-shippers, that the Landcruiser can. Plus, I can also carry our luggage, golf clubs and wife in it, plus 15 styro-shippers - or drop wife off at SFO, leave clubs at home, and take only one change of clothes and fit 19 cases. The choice is mine. Then, I'll just follow your car!

                                            Hunt

                                2. re: pof

                                  In another thread, pof, I read that you like Rombauer Chard, so to me that means your preference is for Chards that are big, bold and buttery with a teeny bit of residual sugar. Marimar Torres (Russian River Valley in Sonoma County) is for you then, especially her reserves. Frank Family (Napa) also has your type of Chard, but is visually uninteresting and has a, uh, tacky tasting room. Pretty good zin and Cab there also.
                                  Please see this search thread for more big buttery Napa chards:
                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/33617...

                                  I also read your thread about the best pinots in Napa, Sonoma and RRV, and the recs on that thread really can't be beat. Dutton-Estate is wonderful. Merry Edwards, too. Hartford also. Kosta-Browne. Dutton-Goldfield. Whiner makes some excellent suggestions.

                                  Disclaimer: I am quite picky about Pinot Noirs, and prefer those of Russian River Valley, Oregon and Burgundy. Napa can't really match the level the level of these Pinot Noirs, sorry.

                                  Please take a few moments and enter each of the winery names from your thread about Pinot as a search term, click on "filter results by board name", and read the threads on the Wine Board and San Fran Bay Area Board. Lots more recs and answers also by searching for Russian River, Russian River Chardonnay, RR Pinot Noir etc. to really narrow the recs down.

                                  In Napa, my favorite Pinots at a recent large tasting (not all wineries were represented) were Stelzner, Schug (almost like a Burgundy -- beautiful), and Artesa (very interesting building built right into the mountain -- architect Domingo Triay). Etude and Sinskey used to make fairly good Pinot (haven't tasted lately). None as good as RR Pinots.

                                  Phelps makes miraculous wines and is quite lovely, my favorite winery in Napa Valley, but those are extra tasty Rhone wines. Likewise, Duckhorn is terrific (beautiful tasting room!) but not for Chard or Pinot. Vinecliff will possibly give you a Chard thrill along with a great view. Can very highly recommend Schramsberg for outstanding bubbly and stunning grounds and caves. Worth it, make a reservation. Jarvis is lovely and unusual, but Schramsberg trumps it.

                                  You've got a good list going, pof. Plenty enough for 3 days. Have fun.

                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                    Maria, Thanks. My wife and I did go to Napa a year ago and I found your recs for the chardonnays to be very helpful. William Hill, Frank, Ronbauer were all to my liking. We liked the tour and tastings at Chappellet but were not at all impressed by any of their chardonnays. We will check out Miner on our upcoming visit this fall. We really enjoyed the cab franc at William Hill even more than the chardonnay.

                                    1. re: pof

                                      i agree with Maria on all of her rec's I would add that the artwork at Clos Pegase makes it worth stopping, even if the wines are just good and not great.(scattered on the grounds are sculpture by Moore , deBuffet and others that worth seeing and the winery building itself, designed by Michael Graves is also quite cool.) the they do have some nice char's from year to year as well.Rombauer has the quintessential california char, and the tasting staff is very friendly. be sure to try their late harvest char dessert wine which I really was impressed by.

                            2. I can't say enough good stuff about Schramsberg. I like Heitz alot too. Silver oak is not a bad stop but Opus is ridiculously stuffy.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: SeanT

                                Of our 25 + visits in Napa, Opus was the only place that seemed like they were inconvenienced by having us there (at $25 a taste). Since then, on the rare instances that I purchase a $100 + bottle, it is not Opus. Heitz is a nice stop and worth the visit to purchase some of their Port.

                                1. re: SeanT

                                  I agree on Schramsberg. I've done the tasting a few times, and somehow forgot that they were "by appointment only." Stopped by one afternoon, and they were full, and apologetic. Since there was a group coming into the tasting area in a few minutes, the host invited us in, to "warm up the glasses." We then spent the next 20 minutes talking Napa-stuff. When the group finally arrived, we tipped, and departed.

                                  I've love Heitz too, though since Mr Heitz passed on, it is not quite the same. I enjoy it and appreciate the history.

                                  In all of my years, I have never made it to Opus. Building looks neat. In years past, I really liked the wines. Lately, it's not been quite the same. Maybe a little me, and a little them. Last time I did some serious Opus, was New Year's '99, and Michael Mondavi had a road show, that came to PHX. We did it, and it was disappointing. All we got was, "Hi, I'm Michael Mondavi, and this is Opus, the best wine in the world. Pay up. Drink up, and don't bother me." A real departure from his father, with whom I was fortunate enough to dine on one occasion. I wonder how the kids are doing now.

                                  As a side note: I have yet to pay $1 for tastings in Napa. I've handed my card to many folk, but have yet to have anyone charge to it. I also do not usually buy tons of wine from the TR's, unless they are not represented in PHX. OTOH, I do spend a lot of time tasting, asking quesitons, and getting to know the folk behind the bottles. Now, in Sonoma, I have had some real problems, but that is another story.

                                  My best trips have been Napa, Amador/Sierra Foothills and Central Coast (about all of it from Santa Barbara, all the way to Monterey). Need to try Livermore next trip.

                                  Hunt

                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                    "As a side note: I have yet to pay $1 for tastings in Napa. I've handed my card to many folk, but have yet to have anyone charge to it."

                                    Wow, Bill.... you charmer you!! I've been visiting Napa tasting rooms for years and have had to pay just about everywhere that they charge, unless I've bought enough wine or the policy is stated as the charge goes against a purchase. That did change when I became a retailer, but it must be a real gift of gab that gets you comped all the time.