Please comment on my Napa Itinerary
I will be in Napa for 1 1/2 days in June and am trying to plan an itinerary. I have never been before and am not sure how it works, how long I need to plan between appointments, etc. Based on research so far, this is what I have come up with.
My fiance and I will be leaving San Francisco in the morning and driving to the Napa area.
For that day I was thinking:
11:30 - Frog's Leap
1pm - Cakebread
Afternoon - Sterling Vineyards (you don't need reservations there)
Is there time for a 4th? What about lunch?
I made dinner reservations at Ad Hoc at 8:15
The following day, we will need to leave Napa around 3pm.
I was thinking of heading to Judd's Hill around 11am and Robert Sinskey at 1pm.
We like a wide variety of wines, and want to try a variety while we are there. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
You should definitley make your way through St. Helena and Calistoga if time allows. I would skip Sterling also, have you thought about some of the smaller less touristy wineries? Dutch Henry is great, so is Vincent Arroyo, they just give a much different feel than some of the larger wineries. If you're around Yountville near lunchtime, Bistro Jeanty has amazing food, get the tomato soup.
Though June is a busy month regardless of what days you go, the weekends are particularly busy as there are a lot of bay area people who go up just for the day. So, it is important to know which days of the week you are going. Also, it appears you are going to visit wineries based on their wines and not their art collections or architectural significance. If that's truly the case then, based on the types of wines you like, research the wineries to find which ones make the wines you like. Also, I have a tough time bouncing back and forth between reds and whites so, when I go wine tasting, I decide to maybe do whites only in the mornings or on one day and then reds in the afternoon or on another day. To the extent you can stay off of highway 29 and stay on the Silverado Trail, you will enjoy your driving experience much more and, in addition, it's very much more scenic. Having lived in Yountville for 15 years, until recently moving to San Francisco, I am familiar with a lot of the smaller wineries but, without knowing your tastes, I don't necessarily feel comfortable recommending a bunch. Incidentally, all the meals we've had at ad hoc have been great but we always knew what they were serving because we called ahead and then just walked down there, sometimes dining at the bar. Bouchon, also owned by Thomas Keller, is just a couple of blocks away and has a French bistro feel and menu. Bistro Jeanty, also French, is another favorite--don't miss the chocolate mouse creme brulee. I would agree that to go all the way up to Sterling to ride the chair lift is a waste of time for someone serious about wine. I have a soft spot, though, for Clos Pegase where I worked in the tasting room for awhile. You'll have a great time.
We are also spending a few days in Napa (staying in Yountville at the Petit Logis!) in June. I would bevery curious to hear your thoughts (bobpantzer) on our tasting itinerary. More than anything, we love big Napa Cabs and similar blends (yes, thats a little generic, but it gets you an idea!) ..our favorites last trip were Spring Mountain, Caymus, and a Hess Mount Veeder (sp?) Suvee. This trip we are headed to: Pride, Cain, Smith-Madrone, Terraces, David Arthur, Josephm Phelps and Miner Family. We're also considering Milat.
I agree with what's been said above. I'll only throw in that unless your heart is set on Sterling, you'd be better off staying around the Frog's Leap/Cakebread area of the valley instead of in the car up to Sterling. If you there on a Saturday, familiarize yourself with the Silverado Trail since Highway 29 is a mess, especially through St. Helena.
What kind of wine do you like? Cabernet, Merlot, Cab Franc, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are the types of wines you'll mainly find in Napa Valley. I'd also head to Frog's Leap, and agree that to taste and get to Cakebread by 1 pm is probably not possible. I'm not that wild about Cakebread, and would definitely stay away from Sterling and both Clos Pegase because the wines are really not memorable in comparison to the other wines available. I believe that chazzerking meant tram instead of "chairlift" when he was referring to Sterling.
What I'd do is decide what kind of wine you like, and then search on the Wine Board for that wine and Napa in the search window.
I'm a big fan of frog's Leap, but there's no way you will be done in time to get to Cakebread by 1:30. If forced to choose, i'd definitely go with the Frog's Leap. I think that you'll enjoy ad Hoc, but be forewarned, there is no menu choice. they do one 4 course prix fixee menu a night. Sterling is an interesting place, with the chairlift and all but their wines are not among my preferred. Similarly, Clos Pegase is quite nearby, has a fabulous winery with a Michael Graves designed building and a museum quality sculpture garden, but the wines aren't anything outstanding. Have a great time and be careful driving. they drive like lunatics in the valley.