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Napa in November

pkimble Oct 4, 2010 01:10 PM

I’ll be in Napa for a conference the first week of November, and, since this is my first visit to wine county (I don’t think Old South Winery in Natchez counts), I have done some research on this board and wanted to get feedback on specific questions. I’ll be staying at the Embassy Suites right off 29 in Napa. The first part of the week, I’ll be with co-workers and probably need restaurants in Napa proper for two nights. Plus I don’t want to suggest anything too pricey. I definitely want to go to Oenotri one night and was trying to choose between Uva Trattoria, Neela’s, Bistro Don Giovanni, and Norman Rose Tavern for the other. Thoughts? Also, I can probably sneak away from meetings a little before 4. It seems like Van Der Heyden and Hendry would be interesting wineries close enough to get in a quick tasting. What other places can I make it to in less than 30 minutes from the Embassy Suites? Robert Sinskey? Shafer? Are they worth the longer drive? It seems like most tasting rooms close around 4:30. Can I show up at 4:20 and get a tasting in, or would they shoo me out ten minutes later?

When the conference ends, my wife will come in for three days. We’d obviously love the full tour experience, but we are most interested in the wine. Because of that, we’re more willing to hit tasting rooms and move on, rather than hit nothing but full tour experiences for three days. Also, I haven’t really considered which wineries have picnic areas as I figured it might be a little cold for al fresco eating in early November. Is that correct? On Thursday, I thought we’d start at Plumpjack, and then do both the wine tasting and olive oil tour at Round Pond. Round Pond’s website indicates they have appetizer-type food at both tastings. For those who have done these tastings, will this be enough for lunch? After Round Pond, I definitely wanted to hit Chappellet. Then, for dinner, we'll hit Bistro Jeanty.

Friday, I thought we’d get an early start, eat a big breakfast at the Boon Fly Café, and head towards Sonoma – or Sebastopol really since I love Merry Edwards wines and definitely want to go there. But first, a tasting in the Sonoma area. I was thinking Sojourn? We do love pinot noir. Or Gundlach Bundschu? Buena Vista? Someplace else? After Merry Edwards, I thought we’d head towards Healdsburg and hit Hop Kiln or Alderbrook and then J Vineyards. Can we fit Ferrari-Carano (or someplace else around Healdsburg) in as well? That’s five wineries in one day, but we won’t be stopping for lunch so that will give us a little extra time. Would Hop Kiln, Alderbrook, or J Vineyards be accepting of us bringing a light picnic into the tasting room? If so, what is a good place for picnic items in Sonoma? We might try to eat dinner someplace inexpensive in Healdsburg – Scopa? If we end up ditching the budget route, is Cyrus worth the money? I’ll probably end up shipping a couple of cases back, so I am interested in hitting wine shops with good selections. I heard The Wine Shop in Healdsburg is good. True? Are there other liquor stores I should try in Healdsburg, Sonoma, or along 29? Any particular place I should go to ship wine back?

Saturday, I was planning on heading up 29 and hitting Nickel & Nickel or Whitehall Lane before the eating lunch at Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen. Then we’ll head up Spring Mountain Road and hit Cain and Erna Schein/Behrens and Hitchcock, plus either Pride Mountain Vineyards or Barnett. Would we have time for Smith-Madrone, too? And then we’d hit Redd for dinner.

Is the winery schedule a little ambitious? I’ve tried to avoid too much crisscrossing while driving, but I’m not familiar with the area. Any suggestions of places to drop to cut out drive time – or a better stop along the route we’re going? I realize Merry Edwards will be the first one that comes up, but I’d like to include it. How long is the drive from Sojourn to Sebastopol? Are there any can’t miss wineries or restaurants I’ve left out? A place included that hasn’t been measuring up recently?

Boon Fly Cafe
4048 Sonoma Highway, Napa, CA 94559

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

Bistro Jeanty
6510 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

8761 Dry Creek Rd, Healdsburg, CA

Pride Mountain Vineyards
4026 Spring Mountain Rd, St Helena, CA

Nickel & Nickel
8164 St Helena Highway, Oakville, CA

109 Plaza St, Healdsburg, CA 95448

Bistro Don Giovanni
4110 Howard Ln, Napa, CA

Uva Trattoria
1040 Clinton St, Napa, CA 94559

Norman Rose Tavern
1401 1st St, Napa, CA 94559

1425 1st St, Napa, CA 94559

  1. wolfe Oct 4, 2010 03:26 PM

    I searched for a way to tie some of your requests together. How about at the northern end for breakfast at Willow Wood Market Cafe in Graton and coming back a short hop to Merry Edwards and than back to the Sojourn Tasting Room in Sonoma. Many opportunities for winery stops with lunch at The Fig(slight detour) or Vineyards Inn along the way. Another good spot is El Molino Central also on the way. The trip from Graton back down is about 31 miles.

    Willow Wood Market Cafe
    9020 Graton Rd, Graton, CA 95444

    Vineyards Inn
    8445 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood, CA 95452

    El Molino Central
    11 Central Avenue, Boyes Hot Springs, CA 95476

    2 Replies
    1. re: wolfe
      wolfe Oct 24, 2010 09:03 AM

      Since I was just in the neighborhood visiting heirloom apples at Walker's apple farm I noticed that Dutton-Goldfield is just 2/10 mile from Merry Edwards. Makes the northern swing more productive. It would have been even better if the apple farm made cider and doughnuts.

      1. re: wolfe
        maria lorraine Oct 27, 2010 08:23 PM

        Great rec. Pay heed.

        There's a huge number of great posts on Napa and Sonoma wineries already on this board if you'd care to do a search. In those posts, there's more than I could ever repeat here.

    2. Midlife Oct 4, 2010 05:44 PM

      Wow! LOTS of questions packed in there. All-in-all itsounds like a really great itinerary.

      A few answers:

      1. Sojourn to Sebastapol: maybe 45 minutes or less. I w/ouldn't miss Merry Edwards either.
      2. Shipping wine: I know there are a couple of places in Napa that specialize in it, but I'm familiar with one wine shop (Napa Wine & Cigar; Silverado Trail, just North of Socol Avenue) that will ship f/as weel. The couple that owns it are regulars on another board I frequent and are really nice people.
      3. The Napa schedule is a bit ambitious, but doable.


      1 Reply
      1. re: Midlife
        maria lorraine Oct 27, 2010 08:22 PM

        Best rates for shipping are at Cartons and Crates on California Drive just south of Trancas in the city of Napa. It's also a good art supplies store. I've checked everywhere on shipping rates (local girl), and C&C is the best.

        Cartons & Crates Shipping Co
        3250 California Blvd
        Napa, CA 94558-3310
        (707) 224-7447

      2. partyplan Oct 23, 2010 09:48 PM

        Please don't miss Bouchon. It offers some of the best French food in Napa and definitely the best ambiance, especially if enjoy Paris. The quiche, croque monsieur, salmon rillette, frites, really everything is a cut above just about anywhere else you can get it. P.S. I 100% prefer Bouchon over Bistro Jeanty, after plenty of experience. Also in Yountville, you have tons of other options, like Ad Hoc or a fairly new spot called Cantinetta Piero that is just awesome.

        In Healdsburg, definitely, definitely go to Scopa. You'll be happier with Scopa than Cyrus if you're trying to be budget conscious and even if you're not. Every plate can't be so precious and Scopa is delectable.

        Ad Hoc
        6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599

        Bistro Jeanty
        6510 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

        109 Plaza St, Healdsburg, CA 95448

        6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

        1 Reply
        1. re: partyplan
          teejaymoore Oct 27, 2010 02:42 PM

          Pizzeria Diavolo is great for lunch if you're up north for wine (Lynmar, Merry Edwards and Walter Hansel are favorites)

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