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Napa trip musts

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My girlfriend and I will be going to Napa for a 5 days. I searched the past posts but still need more updated recs for wineries and restaurants.Ive been to the wineries twice before but the only one I ate in was Chandon, which had OK food. Thier sparking rose I really liked.
I need recs for lunch and dinners, breakfast will probably be at the hotel which is in town of Napa. I'm open to breakfast elsewhere if it's really exceptional.
-- French Laundry is fully booked according to Open Table so I need a good 2nd choice.
Ive read reviews on Cyrus, Redd, I've been to Bouchon in LV and wasnt impressed.
I know Friday nite reservations will be touch so I'd like a fairly easy place to get into, perhaps Angele.
I'm not sure how driving at night is from Napa to Yountville or St Helena where it seems most of the best restaurants are. Also, I'm wondering if there are any good tapas style ( spanish, french , asian) restaurants in Napa Valley.
Wineries
I definitley want good wines, but also want good photo ops. I;m not sure whether to base it on wines I like since those wineries might not be visitor friendly. And there are so many wines I havent tried. I would liek to go to Sonoma, Napa, and Healdsberg areas.
Wines i like are Montelena, Mt Veeder, Chappellet, Duckhorn, Tedeschi, Rabbit Ridge, Chalone, Stags Leap, Joseph Phelps, I'd like to try some Rieslings and some dessert wines also ,,, and Frog Leap's website is the cutest so I want to go there.
Please give your recs on which restaurants and wineries are a must to see. Also is the Wine Train a good "must"

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  1. Do not overlook Ubuntu

    1. Martini House and Restaurant Terra are very good Restaurants as well. They are in St. Helena. Bottega Napa Valley is nice, this is Chef Chiarello's new Restaurant and is doing well this is in Yountville.
      Pay a visit to Hess Winery. Frank Family Vineyards is one of my favorites and Rombauer Vineyards. I also enjoy Caymus and Cakebread Vineyards.

      The Royal Oaks Restaurant inside at the Silverado Resort is very very good. We usually stay there.

      1. Ad Hoc for Dinner is excellent - and regarding TFL, they only offer a few spots on Open Table - call them.

        Swing by the Oxbow Market while you're there and try a couple chocolates at Annette's and a Chocolate Velvet Cupcake from Kara's.

        I had a great lunch/appetizers at Bistro Jeanty - the most affordable-for-its-quality Foie Gras I've had in a while.

        3 Replies
        1. re: uhockey

          I don't remember seeing a mention of Annette's in any of your prior posts -- what did you like there? I've tried most of their line, and have found a couple of things that are excellent (the apricot chocolate and the fiery beer brittle) and the rest pretty ho-hum (i.e., similar style to See's but not as good).

          I would have thought that Woodhouse Chocolates in St. Helena would be more "uhockey style."

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Dark Chocolate covered Honey Comb. :-)
            The Fleur de Sel was pretty average.

            1. re: uhockey

              Thanks. I'll remember to try the dark chocolate honeycomb next time I'm there.

        2. The drive to Yountville to/from Napa is very easy - 10 minutes. St. Helena isn't difficult, but it is a bit further.

          Restaurants I would consider in Napa - Bounty Hunter (casual, wine bar with tasty BBQ), Ubuntu (fabulous, don't miss), Pizzeria Azzuro.

          Further North, I'd highly recommend Ad Hoc and Redd in Yountville, and Cook in St. Helena.

          If you're looking for an alternative to French Laundry, I'd recommend Cyrus, but it's a long drive from Napa. Redd is much closer and has a 5-course tasting menu.

          3 Replies
          1. re: cyberroo

            thanks everyone ,,, booked redd, and ad hoc , and booked a wine tour with platypus.
            I'll proably go to Chapplellet on my own if possible they said they dont normall y go there.
            I'll call french Laundry and see if they have openings,,, Cyrus too far to drive for me at nite with wine in me. Not sure how Auberge de Soleil is ,,or Toque ( im staying at the westin) ,,,,i also booked Element , since its small dishes and we like that. thanks again,,i'm leaving in a few hours

            1. re: foodwhisperer

              Oh man, if you check back during your trip, I didn't realize you were at the Westin. The breakfast there sucks big time. Way overpriced hotel food. They use Ken Frank's name but it is pretty obvious he came up with a dish or two and that is about his involvement. If my name was used like that either I'd get more involved or insist they didn't use my name.

              Here's a list of Napa breakfast places.
              http://www.chow.com/search?search%5Bq...

              Boon Fly very good. Alexis Baking always gets lots of recs. Brix has a very nice weekend breakfast. They also have one of the best happy hours in the valley. Click on the restuarant name and you will see reports. Soscol Cafe is the ultimate dive with an interesting pedigree.

              Definately check out Oxbow which is nearby. Another vote that Ubuntu is a must. try.

              1. re: foodwhisperer

                If you're looking for another upscale option, check out Meadowood.

            2. For restaurants this website is a must. http://www.sallybernstein.com/food/di...

              Also in the St. Helena area I ejoyed Mustards Grill. But the above website will give you a great summary.
              Also Frog Leap's is the only 100% renewable energy winery ( I think), take the tour. also Sterling the wine is so-so but the view of napa is worth it. Cakebread is a nice tasting, but you need a reservation. Everyone ends up at Franciscan cool bar atmosphere, great place to end ur day or days.

              2 Replies
              1. re: bostonluvsnapa

                The site is by people who only spend part of their time in the area. They must be in Florida currently because a number of restaurants they list have closed ... some long closed and others have changes not updated in the descriptions.

                A far better site for eating in the Napa Valley is Napa Eats which is written by someone who actually lives there
                http://www.napaeats.com/

                1. re: bostonluvsnapa

                  Boston, there are many renewable energy wineries in Napa. But I do love Frog's Leap, and John Williams's entire approach to winemaking, and life.

                2. Driving at night in Napa Valley is a snap. Straight roads up and down the valley, either on 29 or Silverado Trail. The entire valley is laid out like a ladder, with the two major north-south roads, and the crossroads (the rungs) interspersed all along the way.

                  If those are the wineries you like, visit those. Montelena is at the north end of the valley, in Calistoga. Mt Veeder to the far west, and up up up. Chappellet is far east and also a slight drive. Stag's Leap Wine Cellars is famous for their swill, of course. Very near, and also good, are Pine Ridge and Shafer -- all three are in the Stag's Leap District. I'd spend some time in the Spring Mountain District as it seems you like finessed Cabs.

                  On the Sonoma side, I'd really recommend the Dry Creek area for its Zins and Pinots.
                  It's just outside Healdsburg, and it is both my favorite for beauty and for wine, and I'm over there a lot (though live in Napa).

                  Restos: Ubuntu, Redd, Terra, Martini House, Ad Hoc, the bar at Bouchon (only), the bar at Tra Vigne (only).

                  Sorry, we don't grow much Riesling here in California. You need to go to Alsace or Germany, or Oregon or Washington State for that.

                  Here are two good threads on dessert wines in wine country:
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/516908
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/606665

                  Sadly, the wine train is a bust, not a must.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    Two Rieslings I enjoy here are at Hagafen and at Palmaz.

                    1. re: brucemac707

                      Well, there are very limited exceptions. In general, the grape does not do well in this hot climate.

                      Palmaz is quite the structure.

                      1. re: maria lorraine

                        Not to hijack this thread, but what do you mean by "quite the structure?"

                        My husband and I are also fans of riesling (we love the 2007 Dönnhoff Spätlese Norheimer Kirschheck served at Slanted Door) and would love to find a similar (but more affordable) wine sold at a winery in the Bay Area.

                        Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

                        1. re: cvhound

                          Well, to start, the entire winery -- the equivalent of an 18-story building -- is built INSIDE a mountain. The grapes are delivered to the top of the mountain, and then using gravity flow, the grapes are pressed into fermentation tanks that circle around on a carousel track that is off by no more than a 1/4" within an enormous circle. The grape juice then drains into the next layer below -- the barrels. No pumps that could bruise the wine and create off-flavors. All gravity. I believe the winery also has the world's largest interior dome. Quite the structure.

                          Swell swill crafted by Mia Klein. Hope she's still the winemaker. It's a little bit of a drive to get there -- south-east of Napa, but worth it, I believe. Appointments necessary.

                          http://www.palmazvineyards.com/the_wi...

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            Thanks so much for the explanation. It indeed sounds like quite the structure and totally not what I was expecting to hear!

                        2. re: maria lorraine

                          Yeah, pretty amazing, huh?

                      2. re: maria lorraine

                        Thanks everyone for your suggestions. Funny how you end up where you dont think you would go and where you thought you would go you dont. Anyway, went to Frank Family they had some good sparkling wine with good finish and interesting notes. The reds I thought were mediocre at a high price. Went to Lava got some "moonshine" which was a mistake they made , over fortified but awesome. Went to Castello Amaorosa , amazing architecture, enjoyed being in a castle. Even had a Riesling and a Muscat, and a Gewerz there. Was glad merryvale was open late , nice tasting room , bought some Profile splits. checked out Mumm, not very impressed. Cline had a good zin the old vines variety. Went on the Wine Train, to take a break from wineries and just enjoyed a leisurely trip up and back,,, i didnt expect much, and didnt expect the food to be good , based on reviews. The food was pretty good. The wines they had were OK nothing exceptional by the glass.the ZD cab was the best i had on the train. Nice old train cars ,, ride gets a little bumpy.
                        Restaurants I didnt check out as many as I thought I would. But Redd was very good, better than I expected. and the service and staff were excellent. *( contrary to reviews),,, Cuvee had great ribs , meat fell right off the bone. La Toque had great pork tenderloin, excellent lobster and sweet potato dish, and the foie gras was good.
                        Didnt have breakfast at the Westin ,,actually had left overs from La Toque for breakfast. Then went to French Laundry for lunch,,, that was one reason why I didnt check out too many more wineries,, Lunch was 3 1/2 hours. The food was amazing. The fish was crips skined and cooked to perfection. The eel tempura was great. The lamb saddle was excellent, Beef tartare was terrific. foie gras terrine was different and delicious. they even made us souffle , which i asked for and wasnt on the menu. Service was excellent and the staff quite friendly *( again , contrary to reviews) ,, The bill was high ,, yes they French Laundry took me to the cleaners,,the bill was written on a cleaning ticket.

                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                          Thanks for reporting back. The best trips are always the ones where you do the things you didn't expect. I have one friend who is a fanatic about making a schedule and STICKING with it. Traveling with her is always unpleasant because of that.

                          Could you tell us a little more about La Togue. This is the first report in this new location. You truly didn't miss anything by not eating breakfast at the Westin. I had La Toque on my to-try list and it moved way to the bottom after that breakfast.

                          -----
                          The French Laundry
                          6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                          Napa Valley Wine Train
                          1275 McKinstry St, Napa, CA 94559

                          Frank Family Vineyards
                          1091 Larkmead Ln, Calistoga, CA

                          Cline Cellars
                          24737 Arnold Dr, Sonoma, CA

                          La Toque Restaurant
                          1314 McKinstry Street, Napa, CA 94559

                          Cuvee Restaurant
                          1650 Soscol Ave, Napa, CA 94559

                          Lava Vine
                          965 Silverado Trl, Calistoga, CA

                          Castello Di Amorosa Winery
                          4045 Saint Helena Hwy, Calistoga, CA

                      3. A couple weeks ago I took part in "The Blend Experience" at Paraduxx. It's not cheap ($40/pp) and you need reservations, but it was one of the most intriguing and interactive experiences I've had in a winery. It's a nice change from the typical tours or tastings, and also very elegant -- we felt it was totally worth the money (unlike the $50/pp we dropped on the Del Dotto cave & tasting tour).

                        -----
                        Paraduxx Winery
                        7257 Silverado Trl, Napa, CA

                        1. Of the options mentioned, Redd is the best by far. If you have a very adventurous palate, I also recommend Terra. The drive you are suggesting is not very far. Don't drive up the main highway, tho- too much traffic depending on what time of the day you were thinking. None of the wineries you mentioned are that good. Yes, Montelena would be a good photo op, but it's a very far, out-of-the-way drive. Stick to Spring Mountain (pretty drive) or Stag's Leap district. My favorite wineries are Elyse, Baldacci, Hartwell and Robinson. All of those are off the Silverado trail, with the exception of Elyse. Spring Mountain wineries to recommend would be Barnett, Keenan and Pride. All of the wineries I've mentioned would be pretty for pics too. For lunch, picking up a sandwich at Oakville Grocer and picnicing at one of the wineries is a must.

                          1. Cindy's Backstreet for lunch (get the Calamari app), and get the Paloma Merlot.