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

c
crtnvernon724 Sep 24, 2010 08:22 AM

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!

Thurs:
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?

Fri:
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

Saturday:
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

Sunday:
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

Monday:
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

Tuesday:
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

Brix
7377 St. Helena Highway, Napa, CA 94558

  1. JasmineG Sep 24, 2010 02:00 PM

    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
      v
      vday Sep 24, 2010 02:31 PM

      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

      Brix
      7377 St. Helena Highway, Napa, CA 94558

      Fremont Diner
      2660 Fremont Dr, Sonoma, CA

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

      Morimoto
      610 Main Street, Napa, CA

    2. Scott M Sep 24, 2010 02:18 PM

      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:
      Pride
      Paloma (you need to call ahead)
      Flora Springs (and you can walk over and check out Dean/Deluca next door)
      Chimney Rock
      Rombauer
      Whitehall Lane
      Saddleback

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

      Far Niente
      1350 Acacia Drive, Oakville, CA

      Morimoto
      610 Main Street, Napa, CA

      2 Replies
      1. re: Scott M
        v
        vday Sep 24, 2010 02:34 PM

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

        1. re: Scott M
          JasmineG Sep 24, 2010 03:14 PM

          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. a
          artemis Sep 24, 2010 09:59 PM

          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).

          -----
          Brix
          7377 St. Helena Highway, Napa, CA 94558

          1 Reply
          1. re: artemis
            c
            crtnvernon724 Sep 27, 2010 02:07 PM

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

          2. wenster Sep 24, 2010 10:31 PM

            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

            1. c
              crtnvernon724 Sep 27, 2010 02:18 PM

              Thanks for all the helpful insight.

              Here is some more information about us: I prefer white wines, and enjoy sparkling wines as well. I like smoother, sweeter wine. My boyfriend likes both red and white, and isn't as big a fan of sweetness. Neither of us are huge wine drinkers, so we are looking forward to learning more about what we like. We are looking to learn more, experience as much as we can, and we're interested in unique and/or fun experiences. I know that I am also interested in the beautiful views Napa has to offer.

              I've read that some of the wineries offer Chocolate pairings. I am a HUGE chocolate lover and these look amazing to me. They are expensive (Artesa offers one for $45 per person). Are they worth it?

              I know that Girl and the Fig isn't the most prestigious restaurant in Sonoma, but we've heard good things and it's a bit more in our price range than Cyrus is.

              1. s
                surfchick5am Sep 27, 2010 03:43 PM

                I think there are great suggestion here but I would save Sonoma for a different trip as there is so much great stuff in the Napa Valley. I would definitely do Rubicon, Hess, Phelps, Montelena, Far Niente, one of the sparking producers (I think Schramsberg is the superior product but Chandon has a great tour too). and no one mentioned Clos du Val?? Cakebread always puts out great stuff to taste. Skip the castle and V. Sattui as the wines are not that great and the castle is strange. Sometimes its fun to stop by the smaller places as you can chat up the hosts and get great information. As someone who used to work in the industry, 2 a day is a great idea as you stop remembering what you tasted after 3 or 4 wineries....
                Also I would look at Redd for dining, Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena, and Bouchon in Kellerville-I mean Yountville....

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

                Far Niente
                1350 Acacia Drive, Oakville, CA

                Bouchon
                6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

                1. t
                  TommyWin Sep 28, 2010 09:33 AM

                  You have a great list going with some of the top places in both Valley's, but I would not miss Castello di Amorosa. I've been there a couple of times with my girlfriend and we both loved it. Very romantic. The reserve room upstairs is quiet, has comfy leather seats and the wines are really good. The tours are educational, but book it early to avoid the crowds.

                  Beringer is very historic and we also like Schweiger, Spring Mountain, Schramsburg and Vincent Arroyo.

                  Food in St. Helena is great. Market, AKA Bistro and the new restaurant, Farmstead are all fabulous.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: TommyWin
                    c
                    crtnvernon724 Sep 28, 2010 07:22 PM

                    So many people have said to skip castello di amorosa.... I think it looks beautiful, but why all the bad reviews?

                    1. re: crtnvernon724
                      JasmineG Sep 28, 2010 08:52 PM

                      If you go up to the top and put castello di amorosa in the search box, you'll find a lot of bad reviews of the place. In sum, they all say that it's a tourist trap with bad wines.

                      1. re: crtnvernon724
                        d
                        Dawgmommy Sep 28, 2010 11:53 PM

                        If you arrive in SFO @1PM, you will not get to Napa by 3, there will be traffic whether you go by GG Bridge or the Bay Bridge route. Your hotel is at the lower end of the Silverado Trail, and in the city of Napa. Although it is changing, Napa itself is not the scenic wine country that we all think of.

                        Luna is not far, and they have a little tower that is nice and gives you a little bit of a view. There are also some tasting rooms around Oxbow Market that you could try if you don't want to drive around too much. Most wineries close @5'ish.

                        I would definitely nix V Sattui and the Castello. Their wines are not that great and they are definitely touristy. They are own by the same person, the castello is a monument to his ego, finished about 2-3 years ago.

                        Your other lists look good and I would just narrow them down a little, 3-4 wineries per day would give you a leisurely and relaxed visit. As other people have mentioned, some need reservations, and some, like Darioush, can be pricey, $25 and the pours are not that generous. You might want to consider sharing.

                        In St Helena, I would do, Beringer, Merryvale, Joseph Phelps and Spring Mountain. Calistoga: Schramsberg, Frank Family, Cade (need reservations, beautiful secluded location with great view) and Clos Pegase.

                        Have fun...

                    2. 2
                      2000man Sep 28, 2010 07:32 PM

                      check out Krupp Brothers. They make great wines and the views from their vineyard are amazing.

                      http://www.kruppbrothers.com/vineyard...

                      1. Tripeler Sep 28, 2010 09:21 PM

                        Don't try to see or do too much -- leave a lot of "air" in your schedule for two reasons. First, you may find out about something or run into something while you are there, and want to have time for it. Second, you will see (and remember) things better when you are not so rushed.

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