Wine country itinerary
We (my fiancee and I) will be in Santa Rosa and probably have 3 days of tasting spread out over 5 days
Day 1: Pride Mountain, Neal Family and Keenan
Day 2/3: trying to decide on up to 6 of the following (** indicates what I'm currently leaning towards):
We will probably also be picnic-ing lunch at one of the wineries each day and looking for dinner suggestions.
Any other suggestions (wineries, activities, etc.) will be welcomed. Thanks.
1. First of all, you may want to re-think Neal Family. We really like them, but they're on Howell Mountain, not Spring Mountain, so the extra drive would just be a hassle. On Spring Mountain, you may want to substitute Terra Valentine, Guilliams, or Behrens and Hitchcock (I think all three need an appointment).
2. We like your 5 choices you're leaning towards, and would suggest making Seghesio your 6th choice. Also, Seghesio has some landscaping, and you may be able to use picnic tables there.
3. If you're going to be at Lynmar and Dutton-Goldfield, I have two other suggestions. You will be incredibly close to Merry Edwards, well worth it, and if you need a lunch spot nearby (even if it's to provide the picnic meal), the Willow Wood Market Cafe in Graton is close by, and has great food.
4. In Santa Rosa, don't miss out on Rosso Pizzeria.
Dutton Goldfield has great wines, but to be forewarned there are no grounds, it is just a basic tasting room.
Lynmar has very pretty grounds but don't know how they feel about bringing outside food in and picnicking as they are trying to encourage catering through them. You may want to give them a call. They have excellent wines, but they are also markedly expensive.
Preston has picnicking tables outside the barn area. There are a lot of cats that hang out there which may or may not be appealing to you. I am not the biggest fan of their wines but many on this board are.
Ferrari-Carano has very pretty grounds, wine doesn't really stand out. Not sure of their policies on picnicking ....
I keep hearing wonderful things about visiting Copain, I like their wines but haven't been up to their tasting room yet.
If you like French food, specifically Breton cuisine, there is nothing better than Chef Brian Anderson's Bistro 29, in downtown Santa Rosa on 5th St. The foie gras, served on housemade pain d'epice in a superlative Armoricaine sauce, is swoon-worthy! We liked our dinner here in March 2012 so much, we altered our May 2012 Napa trip to include a return here for a single day, just to eat again at 29. Happily, it was just as good as the first time!
We are not fond of salty food, and Breton cooking is very light on the salt but rich with butter...you are forewarned. Service is exceptional; Anderson trains his young staff very well.
BTW, this is one of only four places where I've gotten hot tea made properly and perfectly (the others being Passionfish/Monterey, Slanted Door/SF, and Auberge du Soleil/Rutherford).
Bistro 29 offers a nice assortment of buckwheat crepes along with a regular menu, and a daily $29 tasting menu. Open for dinner only.
In the past two years, we have eaten at Syrah, Madrone Manor, Cyrus (twice), Dry Creek Kitchen, Barndiva, Willi's Seafood, Corks, French Garden, Willow Wood, K&L Bistro, and all the usual city of Sonoma places (Depot Hotel, Girl & Fig, Estate, Cafe la Haye, and Carneros). Bistro 29 so far has been the best of all of them.
Oops, almost forgot: If you are anywhere near Penngrove for lunch (it's between Santa Rosa and Petaluma, just off 101), get some grilled sausage sandwiches to go from Yanni's Sausage Grill, 10007 Main St., Penngrove, CA, open Wed-Sat only!
John and Francesca run a teeny-tiny shop, right next to the pub (Penngrove's main street is only 2 blocks long; blink and you'll be past it). He buys superb French bread rolls from Full Circle Baking down the street, brushes it with olive oil, then grills it, pressing it down. Get grilled onions and some yoghurt added to one of their seven housemade grilled sausages, and you have got one superb picnic sandwich! Add some of their own invention, Greek Chili – but only if you really like it super-hot! – if you're feeling brave. They'll give you a little taste of it beforehand if you ask nicely, this stuff packs serious heat (the longer it sits, the hotter it gets).