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Wineries with good wine + picnic area

Shane Greenwood Jul 17, 2008 06:55 AM

I just saw on the news this morning that the Gov. signed a bill allowing us to drink wine outside at winery picnic areas. Finally. So, what are your recommendations for wineries in Napa and Sonoma that would be a good spot for this? Who has good picnic wine AND a nice spot outside to enjoy a picnic (either tables or nice grounds or views to enjoy from a blanket).

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  1. Robert Lauriston Jul 17, 2008 10:40 AM

    We were breaking the law all these years?

    Hop Kiln has a beautiful picnic area. Most of their wines are so-so to my taste but the Thousand Flowers white blend is a nice picnic wine.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston
      s
      SteveG Jul 17, 2008 11:59 AM

      I'm not really clear what it means. The detailed and informative (not!) AP report says,

      " It allows winery patrons to consume wine on winery premises, and will be added to existing winery license privileges to give wineries the choice to pursue it as an option in their business plan.

      The bill also provides that cities and counties may restrict but not eliminate winery license privileges in a manner consistent with local land use authority."

      I'm quite positive consumers have been allowed to consume wine on winery premises in the past, and much of the limitation on picnicking has been by county ordinance anyway, so I don't know what this will change.

      For instance, it was probably illegal when my mom had a group of tasters who wanted to try another winery's wine, Ritchie Creek's Blaufrankisch, and my mom gave them a taste from a bottle she already happened to have open in the house. Ritchie Creek produces so little that I don't think they're pouring it, but luckily they do bring it to neighborhood tastings!

      1. re: Robert Lauriston
        Robert Lauriston Jul 18, 2008 12:13 PM

        Prior to its enactment, the bill's author, Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), said, "... current law is unclear about winery picnics when a bottle of wine from the tasting room goes into someone´s picnic basket."

        The change makes it explicitly legal, and also allows tasting rooms to sell wine by the glass.

      2. m
        Michelle Grinnell Jul 17, 2008 01:02 PM

        One of the best picnic spots is V. Sattui in St. Helena, however their wine is sub-par, so I wouldn't recommend it. Try either of the following:

        Rutherford Hill: http://www.rutherfordhill.com/basic_template.asp?page=winery_tours

        Cuvaison: http://www.cuvaison.com/tasting_room_Calistoga.htm

        Buena Vista http://buenavistacarneros.com/history/

        1. b
          Bryan Gros Jul 17, 2008 02:23 PM

          I agree. V. Sattui has made a ton of money all these years on this picnic concept--surely it couldn't have been illegal?

          In Dry Creek, Bella and Preston have good picnic areas. Bella has good wine and a nice grassy area under the big olive trees. Preston's wines are a notch lower. But Preston has fresh bread and a garden. Wilson has picnic tables as well, from what I recall.

          Further south, Lynmar has some nice wines and a really nice patio area with a garden and fruit trees. (and grape vines). Great new facility there, which we were surprised to find has been open for two or three years now.

          1. angie2210 Jul 18, 2008 01:11 PM

            Casa Nuestra is a "funky" little winery on Silverado trail in St. Helena. Think tie-dye and framed paintings of Elvis, it's pretty cool something different than all of the other wineries...They sell wine by the glass there. We brought food from the deli at V.Sattui and had a picnic at Casa Nuestra! I loved it and there was no one there but us...nothing like the zoo that is V. Sattui...

            2 Replies
            1. re: angie2210
              manomin Jul 18, 2008 08:03 PM

              I completely agree! While we did not picnic there we had the nicest time at
              Casa Nuestra, loved the people, loved the Fillmore posters (we have a few here)
              the atmosphere and the Elvis stuff from him filming a movie there. Very pretty and relaxing. Of the 15 wineries we did in 2 1/4 days this was one of the most
              fun and welcoming.

              1. re: angie2210
                Bon Vivant Feb 16, 2009 12:21 PM

                I too love Casa Nuestra for picnics. Yes, it is a little funky but it's also quiet and there aren't bus loads of tourists pulling up to the place. The vineyard dogs will hang around but are not beggars and the goats take an interest in you as well. I like their wines as well and think that they are reasonably priced.

              2. w
                wanderlust21 Jul 18, 2008 06:44 PM

                I like the wine and picnic area at Sunce near Santa Rosa. They have an deck with chairs and picnic tables that surrounds a bocce area. Very relaxed tranquil atmosphere.

                1. rworange Jul 19, 2008 01:49 PM

                  Wineries with picnic facilities ... whether the wine is good or the picnic facilities nice ... that is the question ... would be nice if people who knew updated the place record with info.
                  http://www.chow.com/search?search%5Bq...

                  1. m
                    Mick Ruthven Jul 19, 2008 10:11 PM

                    >the Gov. signed a bill allowing us to drink wine outside at winery picnic areas<

                    I don't remember ever encountering a winery picnic area with no wine drinking allowed.

                    1. Robert Lauriston Aug 24, 2008 11:03 AM

                      How about good wine + wheelchair-accessible picnic area?

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                        Shane Greenwood Aug 25, 2008 05:55 AM

                        Excellent question. V. Sattui comes to mind since the place is all ground level (is the wine good or just okay...? some debate there). Buena Vista in Sonoma seems accessible too, but there is about 50 yards of dirt road leading up to the winery from the parking lot.

                        1. re: Shane Greenwood
                          Robert Lauriston Aug 25, 2008 10:06 AM

                          V. Sattui's a tourist trap. I don't think there's any debate among wine lovers that their wines are not good.

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/381428

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                            d
                            dcrockett Aug 25, 2008 01:34 PM

                            I kick myself for buying my cheeses and meats at V. Sattui's for a picnic. Not that it's bad but there's more of a selection across the street at Dean and Deluca's. Didn't see it there until we were pulling out. Nice deli.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                              Shane Greenwood Aug 25, 2008 05:34 PM

                              Yes, agreed. But you were asking about wheelchair access. Maybe some people would appreciate them for that.

                          2. re: Robert Lauriston
                            Robert Lauriston Feb 16, 2009 12:03 PM

                            We ended up at Paradise Ridge in Santa Rosa:

                            http://www.prwinery.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=30&Itemid=55

                            It has a covered patio with tablecloth-covered tables and a stunning view. The wines are good and varied--I ended up buying a case of a late-harvest Sauvignon Blanc. Very wheelchair-accessible. There's a small charge for picnics.

                            http://blogs.sfweekly.com/foodie/laur...

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                              rworange Feb 16, 2009 12:41 PM

                              Do they charge for tasting?

                              -----
                              Paradise Ridge Winery
                              4545 Thomas Lake Harris Dr, Santa Rosa, CA

                              1. re: rworange
                                Robert Lauriston Feb 16, 2009 12:58 PM

                                I think it's $5, waived with purchase.

                          3. Robert Lauriston Aug 25, 2008 01:31 PM

                            This photo doesn't make the picnic area look very nice:

                            http://mybt.budgettravel.com/kickapps...

                            1. Robert Lauriston Aug 26, 2008 08:51 AM

                              Ledson's an even worse tourist trap than V. Sattui.

                              1. ChefJune Aug 26, 2008 08:57 AM

                                Viansa in Sonoma has a lovely picnic area, but there are a lot of stairs to get to it.

                                13 Replies
                                1. re: ChefJune
                                  Robert Lauriston Aug 26, 2008 09:10 AM

                                  Viansa's a tourist trap, too, or at least the winery is at best the third priority after the deli and gift shop.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                    Shane Greenwood Aug 26, 2008 02:00 PM

                                    Robert, do you have any suggestions of your own, or do you plan on just pointing out what's wrong with everyone else's?

                                    1. re: Shane Greenwood
                                      Robert Lauriston Aug 26, 2008 02:46 PM

                                      I recommended Hop Kiln above. I emailed them asking about picnic area accessibility but haven't heard back.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                        w
                                        wally Aug 26, 2008 02:52 PM

                                        I think, but am not sure that their picnic area is accessible, but I seem to remember a lot of stairs to the tasting room.

                                        1. re: wally
                                          Robert Lauriston Aug 26, 2008 02:56 PM

                                          Tasting room accessibility doesn't matter for my purposes.

                                          1. re: wally
                                            p
                                            pickyeater08 Feb 16, 2009 11:40 AM

                                            Sounds like this post has been dormant for a while, but for future reference, the picnic area at Hop Kiln does not require any step-climbing as far as I can remember. I agree that the wines are not standouts and the picnic area is in full view of some wine-making tanks/equipment, so it is not the most bucolic setting. I think the picnic grounds at Gundlach Bundschu are a lot nicer.

                                        2. re: Shane Greenwood
                                          r
                                          rahir Aug 26, 2008 03:04 PM

                                          I second Shane's comment (although I think this is just Robert's style, in general).

                                          But Robert, a nice rephrasing such as "I believe x is a tourist trap because" instead of "X is a tourist trap" (or not jumping to the conclusion that wine lovers automatically don't like V. Sattui) might be a little kinder than the harshness of your above posts (as well as posts on other threads). Really. Sadly, some of us LOVE wine and can appreciate V. Sattui's Gamay on a warm summer's day.

                                          1. re: rahir
                                            Robert Lauriston Aug 26, 2008 03:30 PM

                                            I posted a link to a discussion about V. Sattui on the Wine board. Ledson and Viansa have never been mentioned there. None of them are really in the wine business.

                                      2. re: ChefJune
                                        rworange Sep 3, 2008 10:06 PM

                                        Viansa has a ramp leading up to the second floor tasting room. It is a steep path though so either the person in the wheelchair needs a moter, strong arms and grit or a hearty assistant doing the pushing. However, the picnic area is limited to what is bought at the deli in the tasting room. The wine as mentioned are ok and not top of the line.

                                        1. re: rworange
                                          Glencora Sep 4, 2008 09:25 PM

                                          There is also pizza from a wood burning oven outside. I visited for the first time recently with an insistent MIL. Very touristy, yes, and more about the gift shop than anything else, but the view is nice and the pizza was not bad (though a bit undercooked.)

                                          1. re: rworange
                                            Robert Lauriston Sep 5, 2008 09:08 AM

                                            Is the outdoor seating accessible or not?

                                            If they don't allow outside food, I'd call it outdoor seating for the deli, not a picnic area.

                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                              rworange Sep 13, 2008 12:35 PM

                                              Yes it is accessible. And there is no way this could be considered outdoor seating for a deli. The picnic area is extensive. It seemed a shame they won't open it up so that people could picnic there if they bought wine at the site. Actually the food wasn't all that shabby in the deli ... lots of familiar cheeses like Point Reyes blue. It is just that unless one is trapped on a tour bus there are better options down the road in Sonoma.

                                              1. re: rworange
                                                j
                                                justalittlemoreplease Sep 14, 2008 12:46 AM

                                                Very much agree with your last sentence.

                                                Viansa is not at all a good recommendation for a winery picnic.

                                        2. s
                                          sonomajom Aug 26, 2008 10:32 AM

                                          In Sonoma I'd suggest
                                          Benziger would be my top pick - in Glen Ellen - good wine and very pretty location looking onto hills, lot sof outside tables and chairs. No lawns though
                                          Valley of Moon has nice small picnic area at rear
                                          St Jean has nice picnic area too as has Ledson
                                          Gloria Ferrer can be very windy in afternoon - as can anywher e in Carneros

                                          1. JustJake Sep 14, 2008 07:05 AM

                                            Curious with respect to this string as well. We'll be in Sonoma and of the wineries on our tentative list, Bella and Preston are the only ones who have picnic facilities along DryCreek or Westside.

                                            While we have a 2pm tastings appointment with Bella, I'd rather defer drinking Zin till the evening after it cools off. As one has to drink what they purchase, are there any other notable picnic areas that have excellent SavBlanc's or Chardonnay in Sonoma?

                                            Any input on vineyard and wine would be appreciated.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: JustJake
                                              wearybashful Sep 14, 2008 06:43 PM

                                              What do you mean, Bella and Preston are the only ones who have picnic facilities along DryCreek ? My favorite for a picnic is Passalacqua, right by Lambert bridge and roughly across the street from Dry Creek Winery. I like the wine, but it's mainly the picnic area that's neat if you have a small group. There's a sloping lawn with a nice view and a fountain and arbors scattered about, not too close, with round glass tables in them-- it's more like being in a private yard (of a mansion, maybe) than a public picnic area.
                                              You can get a glimpse of an arbor in the left-hand photo:
                                              http://www.passalacquawinery.com/tast...

                                              1. re: wearybashful
                                                k
                                                KateMW Jun 9, 2009 07:11 PM

                                                Is there anything similar to this in Napa? We had a picnic at Passalacqua last time in Sonoma and it was great. The wine was good, but the view/setting was great. I'm hoping to find something similar in Napa, so that we can stock up at D&D one morning and eat while we're out and about. Good wine would be nice, but a nice, romantic picnic spot is the top of my list.

                                                1. re: KateMW
                                                  v
                                                  vday Jun 9, 2009 09:16 PM

                                                  You might like Diamond Oaks Winery on the West side of the valley up Oakville Grade. There are really pretty views from up there and it gives a you a birds eye view of the valley.

                                                  http://www.diamond-oaks.com/winery/

                                                  1. re: KateMW
                                                    wearybashful Jun 10, 2009 12:08 AM

                                                    I noticed a beautiful spot at Pride, on Spring Mountain. You have to have a reservation for tasting there, though. If you want to be spontaneous, there are several parks in Napa valley.

                                              2. a
                                                adk Feb 16, 2009 04:21 PM

                                                Arista in Sonoma has a Japanese garden adjacent to the tasting room; when we visited last summer, my girlfriend and I spent quite a bit of time sitting at a table taking in the scenery (though I recall there only being one table, so you might be out of luck if it's occupied). It was a nice experience - one of the workers even poured for us outside!

                                                http://www.aristawinery.com/arista/in...

                                                1. LaFlaca Jun 9, 2009 08:12 PM

                                                  Stryker in Alexander Valley. Just off 128.

                                                  1. Melanie Wong Jun 10, 2009 08:11 PM

                                                    The request was for good wine and picnicking. I don't think V Sattui qualifies in the wine dept.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: Melanie Wong
                                                      Eugene Park Jun 10, 2009 08:42 PM

                                                      I'll ninth (or however high the count is up to) that V Sattui is not a recommended destination for "good wine".

                                                      If you're in Sonoma, you should consider Cline Cellars. Their zins are decent, they also bottle some varietals you rarely find elsewhere (e.g. mourvedre and carignane) and they have an expansive lawn and pond with picnic tables and many flat places to spread out a picnic blanket (unless the area is being used for special events like weddings). For the kiddies, they have somewhat exotic birds in cages to view as well a locomotive dining car to look out.

                                                      1. re: Eugene Park
                                                        Melanie Wong Jun 10, 2009 08:51 PM

                                                        A long time ago I had some interesting fortified wines from V Sattui, but they're not exactly picnicking wines.

                                                        1. re: Melanie Wong
                                                          m
                                                          mick Jun 10, 2009 09:31 PM

                                                          Old thread but Diamond Oaks,Joseph Phelps and Barnett are fabulous picnic spots. V Sattui not on my life.

                                                          1. re: mick
                                                            v
                                                            vday Jun 10, 2009 09:38 PM

                                                            The post above says it all . . . "you will see tons of people picnicking and many cars" at V. Sattui. If that's your thing, have at it. But if you enjoy getting off the beaten path and some peace and quiet with views, there are some great places tucked away like Diamond Oaks. However as the word spreads, places like this get more crowded too, and I think they now take reservations for picnickers.

                                                          2. re: Melanie Wong
                                                            Eugene Park Jun 10, 2009 09:46 PM

                                                            "A long time ago I had some interesting fortified wines from V Sattui, but they're not exactly picnicking wines."

                                                            Depends on who you're picnicking with...... =-)

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