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Need Advice on Napa Wineries

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shelbyk Apr 10, 2009 06:12 AM

My husband and I will be in Napa for 3 full days May 25-27 and need help planning our tasting. We love old world reds, and would love to do no more than 2 wineries a day. We're hoping for a mix of small vineyards and maybe some larger ones with stunning scenery/architecture. We're staying in Yountville and are just looking for great experiences. Thank you!

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  1. d
    dcrockett RE: shelbyk Apr 10, 2009 07:42 AM

    I suggest going to the SanFranciso Bay Area board and do a search there of wineries, There's plenty of info of what you are looking for there.

    1. Midlife RE: shelbyk Apr 10, 2009 09:29 AM

      Here are a few ideas.

      For interest and architecture: I've never been a fan of V. Sattui, but they now have a new property called Castello di Amorosa, which is certainly worth seeing. http://www.castellodiamorosa.com/

      Chateau Montelena is beautiful and the wine is famous too. Jarvis is completely built underground and is rather unusual. Great but rather expensive wine. http://www.montelena.com/ http://www.jarviswines.com/

      A lovely, small winery is Stony Hill. By appointment only, but worth the effort. White wine only. http://www.stonyhillvineyard.com/

      If you wish to learn the basics, Mondavi still has one of the best educational tours in the valley.

      Sterling's wines are not the best (their reserve wines are usually head and shoulders above their regular bottlings though), but the view from up there is one of the best. http://www.sterlingvineyards.com/Defa...

      Have fun!

      1. w
        whiner RE: shelbyk Apr 10, 2009 11:38 AM

        My absolute favorite tasting in Napa is Karl Lawrence. You need to contact them to set up a tasting. They may also taste you on the Sequoia Grove stuff.

        Others I enjoy include:
        Pride
        Chappellet
        Etude (Carneros)
        Neal
        Del Dotto (expensive, but a great experience)

        1. ChefJune RE: shelbyk Apr 10, 2009 11:43 AM

          If you are looking to taste delicious wines, there are MANY in the valley, and I would imagine the recommendations are as varied as the persons making the suggestions.

          I lead tours in Napa and Sonoma, and some of my favorites, for all three: Quality of wines; beauty of winery; friendliness of staff, include Trefethen, St. Supery; Domaine Chandon; Honig; Chimney Rock, Grgich Hills.

          Niebaum-Coppola has so-so wines, but the property is spectacular, and you might like to tour it. Beringer also has a spectacular property. I wouldn't go to Sterling.

          Since you prefer to do two wineries in a day, I would schedule one for each morning and one in the afternoon, and go elsewhere for lunch each day.

          I would make appointments with the wineries you choose beforehand.

          1. t
            tito RE: shelbyk Apr 12, 2009 02:20 PM

            Shelbyk-

            We just returned form a week in Yountville. We stayed at the 4 Sisters Inn.

            For Dining: Bouchon for your morning coffee is a must. Restaurant Redd is great for dinner and Michael Chiarello's new place Bottega is very good. Bistro Jeanty is fun.

            Winery Stops: You mentioned that you like Old World Reds, which can be almost the complete opposite of most of the red wines produced in Napa. That being said I like:

            Hartwell and Midsummer Cellars (both on Silverado Trail)
            Fallia (great tasting of Chard & Pinot, also on Silverado Trail)

            Far Niente (nice tour)

            Up in Calistoga I highly recommend a tour of Schramsberg for some bubbles and a great tour. They demonstrate the technique of "sabering". Have lunch or dinner at Solbar in Calistoga. The chef is the former Sous at Gary Danko.

            If you are looking for that hard to find bottle, stop in Vinoteca wine shop in Calistoga.

            Stop in Hydro for a great tap beer. I know you have only a few days, but you must drive over the Oakville Grade to sonoma. The drive is spectacular.

            Have a great time!!!!

            2 Replies
            1. re: tito
              ChefJune RE: tito Apr 14, 2009 11:48 AM

              tito, have you ever gone across at Calistoga? We did, were happily surprised to find The Petrified Forest!

              1. re: ChefJune
                t
                tito RE: ChefJune Apr 14, 2009 02:44 PM

                Yes, it is a great drive through knights valley into alexander valley. We go out twice a year....god i love that place. If you are into food and wine there is not much better (except France or italy).

                I agree with jonasblank on Storybook.....great zins that are not in the usual napa style. My last visit there i got the "hard sell" on the wine. They were very forward with the fact that I did not purchase.

                As far as aacharya comments, I do agree that sonoma is a great place tp visit. It is a little more laid back. Healdsberg is great, 5 miles one way and you are in dry creek (zin heaven) 5 miles the other way and you are on westside road (pinot land).

                If you pass through alexander valley, be sure to stop at the Hawks tasting room. Nice unoaked chard and some single vineyard cabs that i feel will put them on the map one day.

                But if you have never been to napa and you have only 3 days, staying in napa is a good call.

                go take a mudbath at calistoga hot springs, get a massage, have a great time!!!

            2. j
              jonasblank RE: shelbyk Apr 14, 2009 12:34 PM

              Storybook Mountain is a beautiful property that's not too heavily trafficked. Appointment only, very personal tour and tasting. Their wines are also fairly limited releases, I believe - or at least, are pretty hard to find in New York.

              1. a
                aacharya RE: shelbyk Apr 14, 2009 12:46 PM

                The best advice would be not to go to Napa. Visit Sonoma and the Russian River valley. Better tastings, nicer atmosphere, less limos and drunken tourists. My favs: Chateau St. Jean, St. Francis, Martinelli, Seghesio.

                1. v
                  vinosnob RE: shelbyk Apr 14, 2009 05:34 PM

                  I'm not the biggest fan of Napa, but I do like following the Silverado Trail and focusing on the Stag's Leap District. Great wines and typically not as crowded as the other "side" of Napa.

                  Some favorites include:

                  - Regusci (quaint)
                  - Robert Sinskey (cool culinary tasting which is by appt.)
                  - Clos du Val (old world style, good for picnics, play some bocce)
                  - Shafter (tastings by appt. only M-F and costs around $50, but well worth it)

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: vinosnob
                    maria lorraine RE: vinosnob Apr 14, 2009 10:41 PM

                    Minor spelling correction: It's Shafer, and it's an excellent winery. One of Napa's finest. I love the 1.5.

                    1. re: maria lorraine
                      v
                      vinosnob RE: maria lorraine Apr 15, 2009 09:49 AM

                      Oops, typo; you must have been an editor in a former life ;)

                      1. re: vinosnob
                        maria lorraine RE: vinosnob Apr 15, 2009 11:24 AM

                        I didn't want shelbyk to research the winery, online or otherwise, and not be able to find the name. Cheers...

                        1. re: maria lorraine
                          c
                          cleopatra999 RE: maria lorraine Apr 16, 2009 12:32 PM

                          we really enjoyed our tours at Neal and Tresspass vineyards (and the wines too!). At Tresspass we met with the owner, we spent a couple of hours with him in their very impressive caves doing barrel tastings. Neal was a little more formal but still very enjoyable and their vineyard reminds me of something you would see in Italy.

                          both were by appointment only.

                  2. c
                    Cebca RE: shelbyk Apr 16, 2009 12:49 PM

                    Hall Winery has a smaller second location directly off of the owners' private estate. It is a guest house with the winery in the basement. They don't advertise for it, and it is reservation only. You can make reservations by calling the main winery. The Hall family are big art collectors and the house and the winery are both absolutely magnificent. The tasting room is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. DEFNITELY go check it out.

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