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May 31, 2011 08:07 AM

Honeymoon in Napa/Sonoma need help planning!

My fiancé and I are planning our honeymoon to Napa/Sonoma and are hoping for some help. We're looking for suggestions on wineries in both regions as well as restaurant recs. We've been to Napa once before last year, and we loved Rond Pond, Rombaur and Honig. We prefer Cabs and Zins but are open to anything with a romantic beautiful setting. We are hoping to make reservations at the French Laundry (crossing my fingers!) Botegga, Redd and Ad Hoc. Out of the ladder three which is the best? We are trying to steer away from the touristy stuff, and stick to the places with a more personal experience and a great setting. We loved a lot of the smaller family vineyards. We don't really know anything about Sonoma, so we really need help scoping out the best wineries and other places to visit. We are going in October and staying at the Cottages of Napa for five days. We were also hoping to do some sight seeing/hiking...any suggestions here? Any other suggestions on places to eat/drink visit? Here is a GIANT list of wineries I'm considering...I know they're kind of all over the place. Any additions/suggestions and comments are really appreciated. Thank you for all of your help!

Stags Leap
McKenzie Mueller
A. Rafanelli
Gary Farrell
Pine Ridge
Chimney Rock
Silver Oak
Flora Springs
Whitehall Lane
Iron Horse
Lyn Mar
Wooden Head
Gundlach Bundschau
Ridge Lytton Springs
Mayo Family

Please help us narrow down what's really worth while!

The French Laundry
6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

Ad Hoc
6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599

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  1. I'm getting drunk just reading your list :-).

    Personally, I just don't think you can go wrong with most wineries because they all tend to have a nice romantic atmosphere. Of your list, Ridge and Silver Oak are two favorites. I also like bubbly at Domaine Chandon.. they have beautiful grounds and a great tasting room so I would suggest that as well.

    In terms of your restaurant list, I might add Mustards for a nice hearty pre-tasting lunch. Here is how I would prioritize your list:

    1) French Laundry - Obviously :-)
    2) Ad Hoc - This is just a super-cool space and I absolutely loved it. My friends took me on a gastronomic tour of Napa Valley for my birthday and this was hands-down my favorite. Very relaxed, romantic if you want it to be, quiet and yet just the right noise level. Aside form the amazing food you will find the music infectious... they have a well-chosen play list that had most people just sort of singing out loud occassionally which was fun.

    3) Redd - Here's the thing about Redd... The seafood is outstanding but the non-seafood dishes were really dissapointing (way undercooked pork as an example). The cocktails were fantastic as well. The seats looked and felt like uncomfortable cheap Ikea knock-offs.

    4) Botegga - I loved the food but the service was downright nasty.

    Hope this helps and enjoy your time!

    The French Laundry
    6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

    Ad Hoc
    6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599

    1700 East Bayshore Rd, Palo Alto, CA

    1. Since you're interested in a little outdoor activity, I'd highly recommend going up to Healdsburg and renting bikes. You can bike around the Dry Creek Valley and hit some wineries on your way. Quivera, which you listed, is right on this path. Depending on how many you hit, this can be a four or five hour leisurely bike ride (with a couple hills.) Its a really beautiful area.

      Also, I know you're staying in the Napa area, but Cyrus up in Healdsburg is a phenomenal restaurant. Also, highly recommend the Fremont Diner for breakfast (its in between Sonoma and Napa). It looks like a dive, but the food is Awesome with a capital A.

      As for the restaurants you mentioned, Ad Hoc is such a cool place, go for the fried chicken (I can't remember what day that is). Also, Bottega for me, is kind of cheesy, but they have a nice lounge outside that you can order off the menu. That way you could get a glass of wine and an appetizer instead of having dinner there. That way you could go to both Bottega and Redd in the same night.

      Ad Hoc
      6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599

      6525 Washington Street Suite A9, Yountville, CA 94599

      Fremont Diner
      2660 Fremont Dr, Sonoma, CA

      1 Reply
      1. re: VicAtt

        Healdsburg is lovely, but suggesting a Healdsburg restaurant when they're asking about Napa is like suggesting a Chinese restaurant in Milpitas when the topic is the Sunset District. Really. And you can rent bikes just a few miles south of the Cottages of Napa, and bike in the areas east of Silverado Trail (Barryessa, Soda Canyon, Atlas Peak, the Avenues). There's also hiking (Skyline Park) and canoeing/kayaking the Napa River.

        As for food: I'll add that Meadowood is just as good as French Laundry, in my opinion.

        EMurphyN: the Napa Valley is gorgeous in October. Enjoy!

        The French Laundry
        6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

      2. Preston is a wonderful winery-small and intimate, lovely gardens, small picnic area, many 5 toed cats...very good wines for me it is Sonoma in a nutshell.

        1. Well when I think of Romantic, dining on the terrace at Auberge Du Soliel comes to mind (even if it's just for dessert and champagne). You will enjoy sweeping views of the Napa Valley. I also recommend the less traveled Spring Mountain for wine tasting (Pride, Robert Keenan, Graeser etc). Sonoma has so many wonderful wineries, it's difficult to choose but I'll name some Limerick Lane, J. Rickards Winery, Passalacqua, Talty Vineyards, Stuhlmuller Vineyards. Here are some best kept secrets and hidden gems

          Limerick Lane
          1023 Limerick Lane, Healdsburg, CA

          1. Napa:
            Hall - a must try. They have two tasting rooms (St Helena and Rutherford) but the one in Rutherford requires reservations and has a wine cave.
            Miner – one of our favs
            Beringer - Reserve Room
            Elizabeth Spencer

            Seghesio - one of our favs
            Lambert Bridge (great spot for a picnic)
            A.Rafanelli (need reservation)
            Robert Young - one of our favs

            Lambert Bridge
            4085 W Dry Creek Rd, Healdsburg, CA