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Sep 24, 2010 08:22 AM

Created a Napa itinerary and could use some insight/suggestions!

My boyfriend and I are going to be in Napa from Thurs Oct. 7 until Tuesday Oct. 12. After doing a lot of research I have created a barebones "itinerary. We have dinner reservations for each night, but have not made any winery reservations yet. We are both "newbies" and young [just turned 25] neither of us have been to Napa and while we enjoy wine, we're not huge wine drinkers, but we're hoping to learn more and become real wine drinkers!

I’ve laid out the “itinerary” below….I am kind of basing it around where we have reservations to eat. I’ve listed the wineries that have made it on to our “list.” I definitely want to know if we are missing any or if we are totally off. We want to see a diverse range of wineries. I gladly welcome suggestions/deletions/edits [as I realize we will need to cut the lists down]. Would love any tips on the best way to get the most out of our stay!

We arrive in San Francisco at 1pm on Thursday, where we are renting a car. I figure we won’t get to Napa until about 3pm. We are staying at the Napa Discovery Inn (very low budget place, but we don’t plan on spending a lot of time there) It’s at 500 Silverado Trail Road (seems like a good location….). We have a reservation for dinner at Ubuntu at 7:30pm. We should have enough time to fit in a winery visit right? Maybe somewhere quick and nearby. Luna seems to be close by, but has received mixed reviews. Someone also suggested Van Der Heyden Vineyards. Any other suggestions?

We have a 7:45pm dinner reservation at The Girl and the Fig in Sonoma. Should we plan to spend the day visiting Sonoma wineries? Or split it up and do some wineries around Mount Veeder and the Carneros area earlier in the day then head over to Sonoma to visit some of their wineries.

Wineries in Caneros on our list so far:
• Artesa
• Domaine Carneros
• Bouchaine
• Hess

Wineries in Sonoma:
• Nicholson Ranch
• Buena Vista

We have a 6:45pm dinner reservation at Oentori, which is about 1 mile from our hotel. Would doing the Rutherford/Oakville together area make sense ?

Wineries in Rutherford on our list so far:
• Rutherford Hill Winery
• Frog’s Leap
• Peju
• Cakebread
• Swanson Vineyards
• Mumm
• Jarvis
• Rubicon
• Quintessa
• Round Pond

Wineries in Oakville on our list so far:
• Mondavi
• Far Niente
• Nickel and Nickel
• Plumpjack

We have brunch reservations at Brix at noon. Does it make sense to go to a winery beforehand? I figure we can do the Napa/Yountville area today.

Wineries in Napa/Yountville on our list so far:
• Del Dotto
• Domaine Chandon
• Robert Sinskey
• Ceja
• Pine Ridge
• Stag’s Leap
• Paraduxx
• Darioush
• Goosecross
• Baldacci

We have 8pm dinner reservations at Ad Hoc. Thought St. Helena and Calistoga would be good for today

Wineries in St. Helena on our list so far:
• Beringer
• Joseph Phelps
• Schweiger
• V. Sattuii
• Spring Mountain
• Stony Hill
• Merryvale
• Terra Valentine:

Wineries in Calistoga on our list so far:
• Schramsburg
• Catello di Amorosa
• Vincent Arroyo
• Sterling
• Frank Family
• Clos Pegase
• Chateau Montelena

Our flight is at 9:35pm in San Francisco. Totally open to suggestions for what to do today. I was just in SF in March, and my boyfriend was there a few years ago, so we’d rather spend the extra time doing/seeing things in Napa. But may grab some sushi in SF before we leave....any suggestions on where to go?

Thanks so much!

Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

Ad Hoc
6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599

Buena Vista Cafe
2765 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Rutherford Hill
200 Rutherford Hill Rd, Rutherford, CA

Far Niente
1350 Acacia Drive, Oakville, CA

Domaine Carneros
1240 Duhig Rd, Napa, CA

Van Der Heyden Vineyards
4057 Silverado Trl, Napa, CA

7377 St. Helena Highway, Napa, CA 94558

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  1. Wow, you have really done your homework! This is a great and very exhaustive list. One question that will help the wine and winery experts on this board steer you better: what kinds of wines do you prefer and what kinds of winery experiences are you looking for? That will help narrow your lists.

    Some general advice on wineries: plan on no more than 3-4 wineries a day. In general, I would make no more than 2 appointments per day (maybe one morning and one afternoon) so that you can have time to linger at places that you like, and so that you can discover places that weren't on your list (I've found some of my favorite wineries by asking "where should I go next?" at wineries that I enjoy -- granted, I've found duds that way too, but finding duds helps you realize what you really like). Napa Valley is a place to go slow and explore, not rush from winery to winery, so I'm glad that you recognize that you need to narrow your list.

    Your idea of Sonoma on the day that you go to the Girl and the Fig is a good one; it's a nice idea to start in the Carneros area (you can breakfast at Boon Fly Cafe) and then do the drive along 12 up to Sonoma.

    Here are a few on your list that I've either been to and enjoyed, or have read enough raves about on this board to have on my definitely go list: Domaine Carneros (especially good for someone learning about wine), Frogs Leap, Jarvis, Quintessa, Round Pond (love the olive oil tour and tasting), Sinskey, Phelps, Terra Valentine, Schramsberg, Chateau Montelena.

    Here are a few that I would nix from your list: Darioush (although I had a lovely picnic outside there), V. Sattui, Catello di Amorosa.

    Boon Fly Cafe
    4048 Sonoma Highway, Napa, CA 94559

    Domaine Carneros
    1240 Duhig Rd, Napa, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: JasmineG

      I would agree with Jasmine about nixing V. Satui and Castello di Amorosa unless you like very touristy places. I thought Darioush was a pretty place to visit, but didn't care for any of the wines I tasted there, so would also nix that from your list.
      On your arrival day - Thursday - you might consider bolting straight north over the Golden Gate Bridge, and head into Napa area via the Carneros region - I would make a beeline for Gloria Ferrer for some bubbly on their great patio overlooking the region. This would keep you out of afternoon East Bay traffic, and is a much prettier drive. You might need a light snack at Fremont Diner (between Gloria Ferrer and Napa) to tide you over til dinner at Ubuntu. Consider heading for a walk after dinner to one of the places in downtown Napa for wine tasting or a drink . . . some ideas: Bounty Hunter or one of the other wine bars very near Ubuntu (several within a couple of blocks), or next door at the bar at Cole's is nice, or head down to Morimoto just a few blocks walk for a cocktail or wine. Check out the Uptown Theater (be sure to google with Napa in the search as there are others scattered around the country) for live music shows that might be interesting during your stay.
      You have listed Artesa and Hess which are two of my favorite scenic wineries, so I would try to get to those (I favor views over the wine though, so they don't necessarily have the BEST wines - but good) . . . I love the views at Brix, and would try for a patio table if the weather is nice.
      On your Calistoga day - consider a stop at Solage for lunch - beautiful setting and nice areas both in and outdoors for refreshments. Indian Springs has nice spa treatments if you are in the mood for that, and a huge pool filled from the hot springs in the area for swimming that is included with spa treatments - the pool makes the spa treatment fees more palatable . . .
      And as you cruise around the valley - maybe one day you could stop for refreshments at the deck off the bar at Auberge du Soleil just off the Silverado Trail in Rutherford area.
      I hope you enjoy this most beautiful time of year in the valley!

      Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
      1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

      7377 St. Helena Highway, Napa, CA 94558

      Fremont Diner
      2660 Fremont Dr, Sonoma, CA

      Soleil Restaurant
      625 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94301

      610 Main Street, Napa, CA

    2. Wow, that is a lot to take in.

      I am just going to throw out a bunch of ideas/suggestions and you can decide if you find it useful.

      For Thursday you might want to check out the Robert Craig tasting room which is not that far from Ubuntu and the wines are good. You could also check out the Oxbow Market either that day or later in your trip. There is a tasting room associated with the Market as well.

      For Friday: are you planning on going out to Sonoma just to eat at The Girl and the Fig? On a Friday, traffic can get bad so I would plan on spending the day in Sonoma rather than just heading out there for dinner. I don't consider The Girl and the Fig a destination restaurant like I would Cyrus.

      If you decide to just stay in the Napa Valley you might want to consider the following restaurants: Redd, Terra, Morimoto or Solbar

      Otherwise, you should spend the day in Sonoma checking out the square and wine tasting in the area rather than traveling just for dinner.

      As for the wineries I am not sure if you plan on doing tours or tastings or both. Some places like Jarvis, Frog's Leap, etc require reservations for the tour/tasting. Some places can be expensive depending on your budget. Frog's Leap is free to tour but you need to reserve.

      The Jarvis, Schramsburg, Far Niente/Nickel Nickel and Del Dotto tours are good but expensive. I would probably just do the Schramsburg and one other tour (Jarvis, Del Dotto, Far Niente). For me the Jarvis wines are the weakest but the tour is fun.

      I would skip Darioush I thought it was expensive and kind of uptight.

      I like Joseph Phelps, Frank Family, Clos Pegase, Robert Sinskey

      Chateau Montelena is fine but sometimes they are only pouring a wine or two and it is pricey. Sterling has an interesting tram with nice views but that is about it. Merryvale is decent, Beringer is a touristy spot that I tend to avoid.

      Wineries that are not on you list that I would consider:
      Paloma (you need to call ahead)
      Flora Springs (and you can walk over and check out Dean/Deluca next door)
      Chimney Rock
      Whitehall Lane

      Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
      1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

      Far Niente
      1350 Acacia Drive, Oakville, CA

      610 Main Street, Napa, CA

      2 Replies
      1. re: Scott M

        I second Rombauer - great Chardonnay - great setting:-)

        1. re: Scott M

          Yeah, this is a good point -- if you're going to travel to Sonoma from Napa, the Girl and the Fig is not the destination restaurant to target. And the town of Sonoma, while cute, isn't my favorite in Sonoma County. I love Healdsburg, and if you can change your reservation to go to Cyrus, and instead spend your day in and around the wineries in Healdsburg, that would be a great day trip from Napa. I like The Girl and the Fig, but there are better restaurants in Sonoma county.

        2. I *love* Brix. I'd suggest moving your reservation earlier, maybe 10:30 or 11 and not doing a winery beforehand. It is so beautiful there if you catch a sunny day that you'll want to linger and relax, and then maybe go to a winery or two afterwards.

          Request a table outside, and dress somewhat warmly (they have heaters and a couple of the tables are next to two heaters, which you can snag if you get there earlier) so you can enjoy the gorgeous setting. And even though it's usually a lesser area in some buffets, don't skip the salads. The salads of perfect produce are often my most favorite thing there, along with the cheeses, little muffins, and gulf shrimp. What I would normally think of brunch type foods (bacon, pancakes, eggs, etc) is actually my least favorite station (though still delicious!!!) at Brix.

          I'd also suggest skipping Darioush. My favorite winery in Napa these days is Chappellet (appointment only).

          7377 St. Helena Highway, Napa, CA 94558

          1 Reply
          1. re: artemis

            Thanks for the tip, we moved our reservation to 11am

          2. My husband and I got married in Sonoma last year at Kunde Winery. Wines aside, if you need a break from tasting, it's a beautiful winery that offers hiking and walking tours on many of the weekends. Kunde is where they shot Bottleshock (speaking of Chateau Montelena)- and if nothing else, they are super friendly. I would also agree on skipping V. Sattui and Castello di Amorosa in Napa, adding in Frogs Leap, Domaine Carneros, and Schramsberg....

            Have a great time!!!!

            Domaine Carneros
            1240 Duhig Rd, Napa, CA

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