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Apr 15, 2012 08:47 PM

Thoughts on my Napa itinerary

Hi -

Looking for thoughts/suggestions on my napa itinerary. We are going Thurs - Sun and flying into Santa Rosa airport. We like boutique wineries. I love chardonnay. My husband likes all reds! This is our third trip down to wine country - but first time doing Napa. We want to have a roomy itinerary time wise. Here we go...

Thurs - fly into Santa Rosa arrive around 1130

1) Lunch/beer @ Russian river brewery (my husband's choice!)

...who knows after this...we are staying at the Carneros Inn in Carneros. We don't have tasting plans or dinner plans. Thoughts??? Would love some ideas for the drive from Santa Rosa to Carneros...


1) 10a - tour/tasting @ Jarvis

2) downtown napa - oxbow market/lunch @ Oenetri

3) etude (we love soter wine in oregon)

4) bouchaine

Dinner @ La Toque @ 8pm


1) schramsberg (if we can get in)

2) Smith Madrone...

3) newton vineyards

4) lunch in St Helena (suggestions).....?

Thoughts for the afternoon?

Dinner @ Ad hoc. @ 8pm

Thanks for your thoughts and ideas!!!

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  1. 1. On the way from Santa Rosa to Sonoma on Hwy 12:
    Deerfield ( tasting in wine cave. somewhat overpriced but very good wines)
    Sojourn Cellars (appt only in Sonoma's town center. Great Pinots and Cabs. Need significant aging - they release the wines young and tannic)

    2. If by madrone smith, you mean Smith Madrone, I would suggest adjusting your itinerary. Smith Madrone is significantly up Spring Mountain driving up there and back will take 20 minutes each way. I would either wait to go up that way until *after* lunch OR picnic at Pride Vineyards on Spring Mountain.

    However you time it, I would suggest going to at least one other winery up on Spring Mountain. Pride and Keenan are both excellent and up that way. Heard decent things about Terra Valentine, but haven't been myself.

    1 Reply
    1. re: goldangl95

      Yes I meant Smith Madrone :) Thanks for the tips!! I will look at those additional wineries for sure.

    2. The beers at Russian River Brewing Co are well-worth a detour. However, the food is terrible.

      1. Curious why you chose La Toque... It is not the best-reviewed restaurant in the valley and has been wildly inconsistent.

        10 Replies
        1. re: CarrieWas218

          My favorite sommelier (Andrea Immer Robinson...) likes it. But, I'm totally up for suggestions! What is your favorite?

          1. re: jthorn1227

            I've eaten at LaToque four times; twice it was stellar and twice I had to send dishes back...

            My favorites in the valley are Terra (St. Helena), JoLe (Calistoga), Morimoto (Napa), and Bistro Jeanty (Yountville).

            Other notables include:
            Bistro Don Giovanni

          2. re: CarrieWas218

            We ate at La Toque last month and very much enjoyed it even though there was one dish that we did send back because it was horribly over salted. The waitstaff was incredibly apologetic and professional about that. They suggested that I order something else and before I could even suggest it, they also replaced my wine, as we'd ordered the wine pairings. As it was, because my husband had ordered the 4 course (plus dessert) option and I had opted for the 3 course, and this mishap occcurred dring the 2nd course, even the timing worked out -- I'd planned to watch him eat course no 3 and instead watched him eat no 2. Despite this unfortunate incident, we came away really liking the restaurant because the rest of the food and service were excellent. And the wine pairings were really perfect, which may be why your favorite sommelier recommends it.

            The over salted dish was a dungeons crab salad. I don't recall the details of everything else as it was several weeks ago but do remember delicious foie gras, as well as asparagus that was peeled into "fettuccine" with a decadent cream based sauce.

            1. re: masha

              The over-salting issue has been my problems as well; more than anything else, I am seemingly sending back over-salted dishes to the kitchen and this consistent inconsistencies is indicative of a kitchen not paying attention.

              1. re: CarrieWas218

                Interesting. That this is a repeated problem really troubles me. The front of the house really pays attention (or at least did the night we were there) but I agree there is something wrong in their kitchen.

                I had read your prior posts on this Board reporting issues at La Toque (without much detail) and even considered changing our reservation for somewhere else. We did not regret going there but ....

                1. re: masha

                  Masha - what surprises me is that it is a problem going back several YEARS. My first visit to La Toque was over eight years ago and it was that visit that I sent back two dishes and wrote it up on a now-dead blog. I was invited back by their PR person (comped) and the meal was perfect.

                  I went again - without them knowing who I was - and three of my five dishes were inedibly salty. Ken Frank was not in the kitchen that night and it was a large party (literally, a party on someone else's dime) so I didn't complain but I was really annoyed.

                  Went back a fourth time and let the chef know I was there and each course was perfect.

                  But I don't think I should have to announce to the kitchen that I like my food properly seasoned to get consistent dishes....

                    1. re: jthorn1227

                      Recent chef change - we are all waiting to see where it goes but recent reports have been decidedly mediocre.

                2. re: CarrieWas218

                  If the kitchen consistently sends out dishes you find over-salted, it seems more likely a difference of taste between you and the chef rather than the kitchen not paying attention.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Disagree, especially if I am not the only one sending dishes back...

            2. I second the Keenan Vineyard rec & if you don't want to go back up Spring Mtn. after lunch, I suggest Vincent Arroyo.

              1. I would second spending more time on Spring Mountain and visiting a couple of the other wineries mentioned. It's definitely a very steep and windy drive, even when you get used to it. You can always get the fixin's for a picnic at Sunshine market before you go.

                In St Helena, there's Cook, Market, Cindy's Back Street Kitchen, all very good. Don't think Terra is opened for lunch.

                As to Etude, I really like their Rose, but don't think Tony Soter has been associated there for a number of years, since he left to do his own thing in Oregon.