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Aug 17, 2009 09:52 PM

One Day in Napa - what do you think?

Hey All,

My two roommates and I are flying out to CA from NYC to drive Highway 1 and will be spending a day (a Sunday, unfortunately) in Napa before heading south. After reading through all the valuable advice on this board and doing some digging, here's my tentative schedule:

1. Catch the 10:30 tour at Cakebread...from what I've read here it seems like a good wine primer
2. Looking to setup a 1:00 tour, but unsure where since so many places are closed on Sundays. My shortlist so far is Honig, Peju, Quintessa, Clos Du Val, and Cliff Lede
3. Do a 3:00 tour at Etude - sounds like my kind of reds
4. Domaine Carneros for a tasting
5. Downtown Napa, dinner somewhere

I should add, in terms of our taste in wine we are red drinkers with a preference for pinots and syrahs. So with that in mind, what would be good place to head to between Cakebread and Etude? And also, where's a good, relatively CHEAP place to have dinner downtown? I've heard Zazu mentioned, anything else?

Thanks for your help!

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  1. There are quite a few current threads on Napa -- have you checked those?

    I'm not a fan of Cakebread or Cliff Lede. The wines are overripe.

    I like Etude. Better when Tony Soter owned it.

    For bubbly, Schramsberg is the place.

    Syrah: Syrah is not made all that often here. Joseph Phelps makes many Rhone varietals
    (Syrah is one) and you will fine many good Rhone and French varietal wines there. Spring Mountain wineries, especially Spring Mountain Vineyard, makes some good Syrah. Also Pride Mountain.

    Pinot Noir: Just so you know, the Napa Carneros Pinots are not that great -- not
    like Russian River Valley, or Western Sonoma County.

    Cheap Napa Downtown Dinner: Bounty Hunter, Pizzeria Azzurro.

    6 Replies
    1. re: maria lorraine

      I agree with Maria, Schramsberg is the place to go for Sparkling wine, the caves are incredibly cool, so I would choose that over Domaine Carneros.

      Quintessa has great wines, but the tour and tasting is expensive, and not really worth the price.

      As for cheap eats in Napa...Taco Trucks? Not really many choices for cheap eats. Zazu is great, but it's a tapa's joint, so while the individual dishes are cheap, if you want to be full it will cost you. Maria's suggestion of Azzurro is a good one, definitely the best pizza in the valley.

      1. re: Piperdown

        Thanks for the advice, both of you.

        I've booked Cakebread and Etude, and have narrowed down our third tour to the following: Del Dotto, Quintessa, Trefethen, and Joseph Phelps...thoughts? Which one would you pick?

        1. re: bmlarson

          I'd be tempted to go with Del Blotto or Phelps. Though Quintessa (actually Hunneus) makes a rocking red called Faust. Truly beautiful. I love the Rhone reds at Phelps, and the more expensive Cab called Insignia, but some friends (whose palates I trust) expressed mild disappointment in their tasting there.

          1. re: bmlarson

            I have done both Phelps and Del Dotto and for the fun experience I would choose Del Dotto. Just make sure it is the last tour of the day because you will get to taste a ton of wines. Dave Del Dotto is now sourcing some Pinot grapes from the Sonoma Coast so they will have those along with some Italian varietals to complement their excellent Cabs. I am a member of the Phelps club so because of that we got a private tasting that was great, but I wasn't particularily impressed with what they offered the general public.

            1. re: bmlarson

              check out Round Pond in Rutherford. For Napa dinner, Ubuntu for exciting vegetable cooking or Annalien for upscal Vietnamese. Enjoy!

              1. re: jaimecouchon

                I can second your rec for Round Pond. That's a wonderful place, and in a spectactular setting . Also second Ubuntu, but not Annalien. The flavors of the
                Annalien's dishes are unfocused, and not as described -- an American lamb-ish stew advertised as lamb curry. Many dishes disappoint. Not at all authentic Vietnamese.So many other better options elsewhere for the same funds.

        2. You do know that Highway 1 is nowhere near the places you mention and getting there from Highway 1 involves twisty torturous roads.

          The reason I bring this up is I'm just curious which route you are planning to drive after your last winery visit. There might be some better places along that route. Downtown Napa is not particularily picturesque. Another option depending on what time you are ready for dinner is Oxbow Market, a sort of upscale food court. RĂ´tisario has some very good chicken and grilled meats, the Cheese Merchant has small plates, PIca PIca has Venezuelan food, Hog Island, seafood. I'm not a fan of Taylor's Refresher, but their ahi tuna sandwich is supposed to be good.

          What does relatively cheap mean to you?

          Oxbow Public Market
          610 First Street, Napa, CA 94559

          1 Reply
          1. re: rworange

            Hog Island can add up fast, so not sure it would be cheap, and anyway I didn't like the Oxbow location nearly as much as the one in SF. Second the Rotisario recommendation, however.

          2. Note that ZAzu is on the outskirts of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County's Russian River Valley. ZUzu is in downtown Napa, which one do you have in mind?