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Jan 5, 2010 11:51 PM

1 day in Napa: Itinerary advice?

Happy New Year everybody,

On the 16th (a Saturday) I will be taking my wife wine-tasting in Napa for her birthday. She loves Sauvignon Blanc, but I also like Cabs and Pinot Noir. However, this trip is really for her, so I want to focus on finding some good SB to take home with us. If a winery does exceptional Cab and PN, that's a bonus.

We only have time for a one-day trip, and I am hoping to put together an itinerary that gives us a chance to try a lot of places. However, I don't want to make the schedule too tight otherwise she will probably not enjoy the day. Here is what I have so far:

10am: Cakebread Cellars : Sensory Evaluation seminar (lasts until 11:30)

12pm: Lunch at Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen

1pm: Joseph Phelps Vineyards (they said this would take about an hour when I called to make the appointment)

2:15: Honig Vineyard & Winery

3:15 Grgich Hills Cellars

4:15 St Supery Winery

5:15 V Wine Cellar (to try Toquade, which a friend recommended)

Is that too aggressive? Given our tastes, are there other places that I might want to check out rather than what I have listed? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen
1327 Railroad Ave., St. Helena, CA 94574

Joseph Phelps Vineyards
200 Taplin Rd, Saint Helena, CA

Cakebread Cellars
8300 St Helena Hwy, Rutherford, CA

Grgich Hills Cellars
1829 Saint Helena Hwy, Rutherford, CA

Honig Vineyard & Winery
850 Rutherford Rd, Rutherford, CA

St Supery Winery
8440 St Helena Highway, Rutherford, CA

V Wine Cellar
6525 Washington St, Yountville, CA

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  1. well i used to live in st. helena for about a year so i would recommend a trip up to Bustas bbq in calistoga..try the tri tip sandwich and backed beans.. its pretty inexpensive for napa valley standards and my friends and i swear by it lol.. i live in LA now and thats the only place id want to visit if/when i go back .

    1 Reply
    1. re: kvb16

      oh and if you like spicy food ask for the hot bbq sauce ..its amazing but really..really spicy (they use habaneros) ! you can also get half and half to buffer the heat a little lol

    2. For us, 6 tasting rooms in one day is too much. One every hour starts to feel like a forced march through wine country and you're in the car as much as you're in a tasting room. For me, it's as much about enjoying the grounds and chatting up the people as it is about tasting the wine, so I like to spend more time at a few places.

      1. Our busiest day had 3 tastings plus lunch (Schramsberg, lunch at Silverado Brewing, Cakebread, Honig) and it freaking wiped us out before our drive to and dinner at Cyrus. YMMV, of course.

        During the day, we also stopped in St. Helena and investigated the olive oil company there as well as Woodhouse Chocolates, which were wonderful. Had a bit of a wander. It was nice.

        1. To ease the hectic pace, skip St. Supery Winery. Looks like V Wine Cellar is open 'til 7 so you should be able to adjust this visit accordingly. Also, keep in mind that the 16th is a long weekend, so expect a busy hwy 29.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ceekskat

            I'd take one out - 4 is aggressive but doable.

            Each stop will usually press 7 or 8 wines on you- and drink *light* by chatting up the wine people to drink only what you might like, split the tasting (ie, you drink all the reds, she drinks the whites, you each sip each other's when "OMG! you have to taste this!!!" moments happen), mention to the taste-running-person that you really want only small tastes, mention that you're only going to taste 4 wines and stick to it, so they'll just give you the good stuff - some or all of the above. Remember, they want you to buy a bottle or two, so they'll work to pick what you'll love if you give them the tools.

            Otherwise you end up with about 3 glass equivilents per stop - you want to keep to about 1 glass equivilent (4 glass equivilents over 8 hours will likely keep you legal - 6 glass equivilents before lunch puts most people way over the line). Remember, you'll have great wine choices at dinner too!

            It's too bad you don't have two days. One of the fun things is stopping at smaller places randomly, and asking them what other places you should stop at. We ended up enjoying Mayo's 2007 launch party (which wasn't much more than a BBQ full of sausage and extended tasting in their barrel storage, chats with the winemakers, still, nice), you'll find these things if you're not on a tight schedule.

          2. I lived in Yountville for many years, worked part time in a tasting room occasionally and entertained friends who visited. I would recommend one winery in the morning, lunch and then maybe two in the afternoon. That was normally a full day for us. I often took visitors to certain wineries just for the view, the grounds, or the artwork and did not taste the wines. In short, yes, I think your plan is too aggressive.