Looking for Napa/Sonoma Tips
Could use some help here. My girlfriend and I are coming up from Phoenix the last week in May for a work conference in San Fran. We would like to stay the weekend in the bay and head up to wine country for a night or two (May 30th and possibly 31st).
Here is what I am looking for:
Great Tour Experiences: Neither one of us wants to drive. This is mandatory so we are going to need to get a driver or tour. What has been the best deal when it comes to this.
Wineries to visit: We enjoy all varietals to the point where we would like to spend less than 30 dollars a bottle.
Where to eat: The GF and I are both hounds so we want to eat really well while we are there. Not willing to spend the 700 or so bucks per couple for French Laundry but would have no problem dropping 300-400 for the right special meal.
Thanks for the help,
BP in Phoenix
I don't know about tours but any of the places you stay could help you. As for restaurants I would recommend Yountville ~ Bouchon or Ad Hoc both T. Keller restaurants and not nearly as pricey as French Laundry. Also good in Yountville Bistro Jeanty, Redd, and Michael Chiarello's Bottega. In St. Helena the Wine Spectator at the Culinary Institute is always fun. None of the restaurants are more than a 20 min drive from Napa. It is hard to visit this area without a car. I would have dinner reservations lined up before you go as they really book up on the weekend. I thnk all the wineries are nice, I don't think you can miss. Domain Chandon has beautiful grounds and good food. Markham is across from the Culinary Institute and Beringer is lovely, near there too, Mumm Champage Cellers always has an interesting art collection. Sterling has a tram to ride to the top of the mountain. You won't run out of places to visit!
I am in the hospitality business, and have used both of these companies for my customers...great service and great people,
Napa and Sonoma a two very big wine regions, if you decide to do both areas you will be doing more driving vs. drinking. I would pick one area. I always root for Sonoma, my home town, and alot less crazy than Napa. For more ideas for hotels, restuarants etc check out: www.sonomavalley.com and www.sonomacountry. com. Also search chowhound under "Sonoma" or "napa" for other links etc.
Your best bet is to avoid a tour company, and just hire a driver so that you and the driver can create an intinerary for the wineries you want to hit, whereas tour's are basically here are the wineries we go to. But driver's aren't cheap. The guy I like charges $70 an hour. There may be others that are less. In other words, you can save money by taking a "tour" but will be limited in which wineries you can go to, or you can pay more for a personal driver, but go to wineries of your choosing, for the most part. Or, you can rent a car; which is still probably your best option, especially if you plan on spending the night in either Napa or Sonoma.