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Mar 25, 2010 03:11 PM

3+ days in wine country - will my plan work??

My husband and I are coming to Sonoma county (and the surrounding environs) at the end of April. Before I go about setting up appointments at various wineries, I was curious what those of you who are local to the area thought of my planning. Will my tentative itinerary require too much driving? Are three wineries/day too much? Is it absurd to stay waaaay out of Healdsburg but migrate back daily? This is my rough outline - your suggestions/feedback are welcome.

Day 1:
Arrive into SFO, Pick up car and head to Glen Ellen. Staying at the Gaige House there. Hoping to arrive by mid afternoon. Will attempt either Hanna Winery or Gundlach Bundschu, depending on timing. Dinner at Santi if its open in time (please!) in Santa Rosa.

Day 2:
Wineries! Hoping to hit 3 out of 4 of these guys, driving out from Glen Ellen toward Healdsburg.
J Vineyards, Merry Edwards, A. Rafanelli, Gary Farrell.
Dinner at Cyrus in Healdsburg,

Day 3:
Hit remaining 1/4 from previous day.
Go to Hanna/Gundlach - whatever was not visited on Day 1.
Spend time in Healdsburg; perhaps Rosenblum tasting room?
Dinner at Dry Creek Kitchen

Day 4: San Fran for dim sum at Yank Sing and then home.

Any thoughts? Is this reasonable?

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  1. If you have not done so, I believe you will need to book an appointment at Rafanelli. I would also recommend the wine/vineyard tours at Benziger, which is near Glen Ellen. I am not saying their wines are great, but the tours are informative & worthwhile.

    6 Replies
    1. re: DavidT

      If you have never done so, I would also recommend spending an hour or two in the town of Sonoma, walking around the very pleasant town square there. You will find a number of nice shops, restaurants and some significant historic landmarks.

      1. re: DavidT

        Thanks! I've spent some lovely time in Sonoma in the past - had a fantastic lunch at the Girl & the Fig and visited a number of different wineries from those above. Gundlach is the only return visit for me...planning to book appointments for all of them above (or make an inquiry phone call to find out if required) but wanted to solicit opinions as to whether or not my plans make geographical sense!

        1. re: nycreba

          If you are having dinner in Healdsburg and then heading back to Glen Ellen it does not make sense to go back to Healdsburg on day 3?

          Plenty of things to do around Glen Ellen/ Kenwood. Kunde, Cline, Chateau St. Jean, Benzinger, Mayo family food pairings (not scenic at all but fun). Or un-wine related Jack London state park.

          1. re: myst

            There are a greater concentration of wonderful wineries -- and a number of separate wine regions: Dry Creek Valley, Russian River, Alexander Valley, Westside Road -- near Healdsburg. The restaurant options are better there also. Gaige House is nice, but I'm wondering why you're not staying in Healdsburg.

          2. re: nycreba

            Appointments are good--just make sure to ask how long they will be so you don't line up too many in close succession. Merry Edwards is one of my favorite Pinot producers, and an appointment there will get you access to better wine and a semi-private or private tasting, which allows you to ask more educated questions. In the general group tastings they do at specific times during the day, your fellow tasters may be less informed and bring down the level of discourse. That said, we didn't have an appointment but I said something about having their wine at a restaurant and loving it, so they intuited that we were there to buy and diverted us to a more personable experience.

            As Maria Lorraine said, Healdsburg is closer to more of my favorite wineries (Merry Edwards, Joseph Swan), and has a higher concentration of great restaurants from casual to super high end (Cyrus).

            1. re: SteveG

              SteveG & maria lorraine: Thanks for responses. I'm not staying in Healdsburg only because I've stayed there in previous trips...wanted to try something different! In hindsight, I'm not sure that Glen Ellen was the perfect location, but it does set us up nicely to see wineries around Santa Rosa as well as travel further north. We really wanted to try Cyrus - thus the focus around that area. Plus, my favorite wineries are that way, too.

              I think we've opted not to return for dinner two nights in Healdsburg - we'll keep our Cyrus reservation but will hit the girl & the fig in Sonoma (I had a lovely lunch when I was there last) on our third night, keeping it a little more local.

              I'm REALLY looking forward to Merry Edwards - I love their Pinots. We're also in the process of setting up a bubble room appointment at J...

      2. In addition to Rafanelli, I really enjoyed the wines at Seghesio (in Healdsburg) and Mauriston last year during the Passport to Dry Creek Valley event. However Passport is more of a party than a tasting room experience, so your mileage may vary.

        4 Replies
        1. re: PekoePeony

          I've been to Seghesio on past visits & enjoyed it as well. I'm unsure about Rafanelli - I've heard mixed reviews on their tastings and know that sometimes they shine at Passport but not during regular/routine tastings. We like pinots and big cabs (I know, typical!) - other suggestions in the area?

          1. re: nycreba

            nycreba - a funny coincidence if you will be staying at the Gaige House April 26th/27th. I don't know enough about Napa/Sonoma to make good suggestions but one of my friends who is more the know than I really recommends Merry Edwards. I hope you enjoy your trip ..... I am really look forward to mine!

            1. re: elkaynyc

              Will you be there at the same time, then? At Gaige? I imagine something of the kind since you said funny coincidence; we'll be there April 29-May 2, actually. What's in store for your trip?

              1. re: nycreba

                I didn't see this until well, well after the trip (stating the obvious). We were there April 26th and 27th. Did a few wineries - really enjoyed Stags Leap and I was surprised at how much I like some of their whites. We were able to get reservations at the French Laundry which did not disappoint. I am still thinking about how they do some of the things they do. Had a lovely lunch in Sonoma at the Girl and the Fig and another good pizza lunch at Tra Vigne in Napa which was quite nice. I really enjoyed the Gaige House. Peter, one of the concierges, was amazingly helpful to us. The weather was not the best to use the pool or the outdoor patios but the property was lovely, I thought. I hope you enjoyed your visit.

                The French Laundry
                6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                Tra Vigne Restaurant
                1050 Charter Oak, St. Helena, CA 94574

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