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Russian River valley day trip - picnic spot, help to narrow winery list?

We're taking a day trip to RRV from SF tomorrow (Super Bowl Sunday). Been to Sonoma town area / Napa so many times but never visited wineries in RRV. Primarily interested in tasting pinots, but tend to drink whites on a daily basis so open to that, and to be honest, I like sparkling as well. Here are some options, but we need to narrow it down to 3 or 4 that are driveable in a day trip:

Hartford
Lynmar Estate
Twomey Cellars
Dutton Estate
Joseph Swan
Gary Farrell
Rochioli

We also want to picnic, and have seen Hop Kiln and Arista mentioned as good spots. Any other suggestions? And where to get supplies, beside Whole Foods in Sebastipol?

One more criteria is price - since our budget is somewhat limited, a better quality-to-price ratio, and wine in the $30 range, is better if we're actually going to buy anything. But we're happy just to taste, if the winery is a little larger, and not making a special effort just for us.

Thanks so much for your thoughts!

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  1. Rochioli has a very nice picnic area overlooking their vineyard. I think you can buy wine by the glass there, too.

    1. If you're coming out here then start at Swan and then fixate on Westside Rd seeing you already mention Gary Farrell and Rochioli. Also don't miss Arista.
      Across the river on Eastside Rd Copain offers exceptional pinots and a nice picnic area with incredible views of the valley. have a great time!

      1. I know you have your RRV list, but if you have time, I'd add Merry Edwards and Dehlinger for your next excursion:
        http://rrvw.org/vineyards-growers/
        http://www.merryedwards.com/wines/
        http://www.dehlingerwinery.com/

        1. I work in the wine industry in Healdsburg. If you want to stick in RRV and at a reasonable cost I would suggest staying away from Lynmar, Twomey, and Gary Farrell.

          My favorite picnic winery in RRV is Arista or Thomas George. If you head up 116 I would stop at Andy's Market for picnic supplies (bread, cheese, meats etc) It is on 116 just before Occidental Road.

          If you enjoy sparkling, I would say make Iron Horse your first stop. Enjoy the view and some bubbles and then move on to Joseph Swan. Then make your way to westside road and taste and picnic at Arista or Thomas George. Don't miss Porter Creek!

          Hope that helps!

          1 Reply
          1. re: airn323

            Yeah, Andy's is great. If you don't mind taking a little detour, stop by Wild Flour Bakery in Freestone.

          2. I would skip Hop Kiln - their wines were markedly two steps below the others on your list - and they were still in the $20-40 range.

            Lynmar is very "Napa" (expensive - swanky grounds) but I really, really like their wines, and it was a really nice visit.