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Rec's for Napa/Sonoma Winery Visits ?

My wife and I will be visiting Napa/Sonoma for a brief time (only 1-2 days) in January, and I'm interested in recommendations for wineries that you like. We have been to the wine country a number of times before, and have visited quite a few over the years, so we're not so much interested in the biggies like Mondavi/Opus One, BV, Simi etc. I'm planning to reserve a wine cave/barrel tasting tour at Del Dotto, because I've heard that can be a fun and interesting tour. Any unique experiences you'd recommend would be welcome !

We get the biggest kick out of the small out of the way wineries that you need to make reservations for, and generally get to meet and talk with the winemakers themselves. Also, any wineries that specialize in and make very good examples of wines other than Cab/Merlot/Chardonnay, would be great. Anyone been to Pride Mountain ? I had a viognier from Pride that was pretty awesome, early this year.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. If you have never driven out Dry Creek Road, west of Healdsburg (Sonoma County), I would recommend doing so. It is a beautiful spot, with a number of smaller wineries in the area.

    The SF Chronicle website has an excellent guide to wineries in Northern California. You can sort your winery search a number of ways. Look for the "Wine Country Guide" at:

    www.sfgate.com/wine/

    2 Replies
    1. re: DavidT

      I find the SF Chron guide good for contact info but not a good evaluation of the wines.

      This board on Chowhound is an excellent resource as most of the Napa/Sonoma winery reviews are on it. Searching the Wine Board using Napa and Sonoma as search terms will reveal reviews of good wines from those regions, giving you hints as to wineries you may wish to visit.

      1. re: maria lorraine

        The "Wine Country Guide" database provides factual, objective information on visiting wineries in Northern California. It allows you to search the database in a variety of ways - by area/region, complimentary tastings, picnic facilities, varietals of wine offered, etc.

        It does NOT attempt to evaluate or rank wines or wineries on a qualitive/subjective basis.

    2. I was just out there last month and went to about 20 wineries. All were great, but 4 smaller ones really jumped out (sorry but they all make great cabs):

      1. Pina - extremely small winery (less than 1300 cases total production) that specializes in cabs. Their cabs are the best i've ever tasted. The winery isn't much for scenery (its basically a garage) but it is the one place my wife and i most highly recommend to our friends. Located on Silverado trail.

      2. Vine Cliff - beautiful winey and caves. Known for great chardonnay, but their reds were also very good. Right up the road from Pina.

      3. Pride - beautiful winery with great merlot, as well as cab. I'm not a merlot drinker, but i was presently surprised by pride's.

      4. Barnett - this one is right up the hill from Pride. The winery itself isn't much to see, but they have a terrace deck at the top of Spring Mountain with great views. Also, their Rattlesnake Cab is excellent, but their pinot was also very good.

      Hope you have a good time!

      1. Pride is a great visit and while up Spring Mountain, make an appointment to visit Smith Madrone.

        Alternately, an entire day (and great touring) can take place on Howell Mountain; consider appointments Lamborn (Zin), Neal (Cab), O'Shaughnessy (Cab), Outpost (Zin), Ladera (Cab & Syrah), and Clark-Claudon (Cab).

        1. Definitly get a reservation at Pride Mountain and try to get on their 10am tour (they have tastings all day but this is the only time the offer a tour). From there I highly recommend Terra Valentine, Robert Keenan and Spring Mtn.
          In Sonoma County I recommend J Vineyards (get in the bubble room).

          1. Spring Mountain is a great region to visit. In addition to the other suggestions made - Barnett, Pride, Robert Keenan, Terra Valentine, Spring Mountain I would suggest Cain and Guilliams. Have fun!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Trevallon

              Just came back from there on yesterday....had a great time, we mostly went to small vineyards....we were not at all disapointed. All of these except Porter creek & Hartford require appointments. We found all these people at the vineyards really nice.

              Sonoma: Siduri (pinot & syrah), Hartford (beautiful vineyard, amazing pinot & zin), Porter Creek (great viogner, organic/biodynamic), Davis (great zin port), Holdredge (fun guy & great wine), Peay (best wine we bought, see what they are pouring)

              Napa: Neal (most beautiful winery & lovely wines), Tresspass (see if you can do barrel tasting)

              If you are wanting a great dinner....we had an amazing time at Cyrus

              Have fun!! it is a great time to be there, lots of one on one attention, hardly any tourists.