Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Aug 8, 2012 11:57 AM

One Napa Winery Tour Recommendation


We are planning to visit Napa for the first time but only for a day. After reading numerous reviews, comments, and the like, we have decided to go to Pride Mountain Vineyards for a tour and tasting in the morning, and then head to Kenzo Estate around noon.

We would like to add just one more winery to our itinerary but it is so hard to decide. Domaine Carneros is one place that seems nice but after reading several negative reviews, it makes me wonder. And Hall Rutherford is another winery that is on the top of my list. In addition, Farella Vineyards. And Mayacamus Vineyards. Hmm..

So if you were to choose one last winery to visit, which would it be? It doesn't have to be the ones I mentioned.

We are looking for a unique experience with great wine.

Any information would be most appreciated.



  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Forgive me, but I believe your timing may not work. Pride is up a mountain on one side of Napa valley, and Kenzo is up a hilly/mountainous area on the other side of Napa valley. Optimistically we're talking an hour drive, and if you're not that familiar with the area, get turned around, feel like lingering at Pride a bit - you won't make it to Kenzo by noon.

    Assuming though, that you do stick to this itinerary, I'd say stick near Kenzo for the last winery. Not very familiar with them beyond reputation/the occasional encounter but you could try these (appt only): Del Dotto, Jarvis or Altamura.

    11 Replies
    1. re: goldangl95

      I agree about the timing, but I'd recommend a sparkling winery for the third (and final) tour -- "and now for something completely different . . . "

      1. re: zin1953

        Thanks for the replies.

        I had a feeling that the Kenzo and Pride would be too far apart. But I was originally looking for two wineries that would be awesome. And since I was unfamiliar with the area, I reserved the two. Hey, haven't you driven miles away for that one special bagel or something like that? Or is that just me?

        Anyway, I had wanted to stay at Kenzo and linger but since we hired a driver (and that is another story in itself. We had to reserve her for a minimum of 6 hours. Ouch.), she offered to take us to one more winery. And that is where I am now.

        zin1953, are you saying that we should go for Domaine Carneros? Or is there another sparkling winery that you would recommend? Like Schramsberg Vineyards? Or Iron Horse Vineyards?


        Thanks for any comments. I really appreciate it.

        1. re: welchanos

          I prefer Iron Horse's sparkling wines to the others on your list (although surely other posters will disagree) and their tasting area and view are truly beautiful. I can't tell how long it would take you to get there from the other places, however. Definitely check a map. I suspect the drive would help use up those 6 hours!

          1. re: BAnders

            Apologies, but again I can't see the need for on a one day trip, and when tasting room hours are 10-5 if you are lucky, one would spend an hour and a half to two hours driving in a car ,on freeways to get from Kenzo to Iron Horse?

              1. re: zin1953

                I mean you could avoid it. But Iron Horse is in Sebastapol. From Kenzo, I think the fastest way is to go 12 W 116 W to 101 N and then off again on the Sebastapol hwy (116? can't remember off the top of my head again).

                If you try to go a scenic route the whole way instead. It'd take even longer than an hour and a half.

                1. re: goldangl95

                  I'm just saying that the only true freeway around is US 101, so the OP would have a long drive just to get to a freeway. Your post sounded, to me at least, like you were saying the OP would be "driving on freeways to get from Kenzo to Iron Horse," when the nearest freeway is actually miles and miles away.

                  I didn't want anyone to thing that Hwy 29, etc. were freeways. ;^)

            1. re: BAnders

              >>> I prefer Iron Horse's sparkling wines to the others on your list <<<

              I, too. But -- and I digress -- the best sparkling wines made in California come from Equinox. ;^)

            2. re: welchanos

              If I were you, I'd pick either Kenzo or Pride as a starting point, and then go to a few wineries around that area.

              If it's Pride, there is Schramsberg, Smith Madrone and others on the mountain. As well as Corison, Alpha Omega, and Berginger nearby on the valley floor.

              If you are at Kenzo, I already recommended a few up by them in the hills, or you could go back down to the floor and go to Darioush, Pine Ridge, Regusci etc.

              1. re: welchanos

                I don't know where you are starting from, BUT . . .

                In terms of driving -- figure on an hour drive between Pride and Kenzo . . . and THAT is with zero traffic and a road-hugging Porsche . . .

                Were you to attempt to go from Kenzo to, say, Iron Horse, I would figure a drive of 1-3/4 to 2 full hours . . .

                Now, if you are staying-and-returning to San Francisco, the drive from, say, the Westin St. Francis Hotel to Pride will take 1.5-2 hours depending upon traffic . . .

                My idea of visiting a sparkling wine producer is simply MY preference for a) sparkling wines at the end of the day, and b) my profound belief that -- unless you are actually in the trade, or an überly passionate devotée -- once you've seen one barrel, you've seen 'em all. In other words, every winery does the exact same thing, they just do it slightly differently . . . .

                But sparkling wines are produced in an entirely different manner -- the only wines, in fact, where the winemaker can never taste final result! -- and provide another experience.

                Given the time-and-distance considerations, I'd look at Schramsberg (relatively close to Pride), or -- if you are planning to visit *after* Kenzo -- Domaine Carneros, or possibly even Chandon. No tours necessary (unless you want to), you can just sit on their beautiful patio, have a snack and a glass of sparkling wine while enjoying the view . . .

                Just a thought . . .


                1. re: welchanos

                  Schramsberg and Pride are easily doable and within 30 minutes of one another. Two excellent wineries right in a row. In fact, I chose those two wineries for my own family to visit, and grouped them one after the other. We went from one to another straightaway.

            3. We recently went to Farella Vineyard and had a nice time. Small, rustic, and charming winery in the newly designated Coombsville district. Really enjoyed the syrah & the 2007 Alta Bordeaux blend; they were out of the West Face Cab.

              Vineyard may not have the natural beauty of Pride but if you do need to keep to places near Kenzo, I'd highly recommend Farella. Looking forward to visiting other wineries in this region in the near future.

              Lastly, when I visited Kenzo last year (for a company event), the only wines available for purchase were $75 or $150. Nice wines, gorgeous setting...if money is not an issue, worth a visit.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ceekskat


                Please choose Pride or Kenzo and build around one of them, not both. You need to minimize transport time and maximize fun time! Have fun.

              2. My faves are Silver Oak, Rombauer and Joseph Phelps...definitely add some bubbly to the mix.

                1. Thanks everyone for your input.

                  Actually, we are flying to San Francisco on Friday, staying a night downtown, then heading to Napa Saturday morning, staying overnight at the Arbor Guest House, then heading back to San Francisco and beyond.

                  Since I wasn't sure of the geography of Napa, I was researching which wineries would be great to visit and came to the conclusion of Kenzo first, then Pride. Pride doesn't have tours on Sundays (which I was thinking of asking for), and the tours are only at 10AM. So that is why our itinerary is Pride and then Kenzo in the afternoon.

                  I really like cortez's idea of choosing one and 'maximizing the fun,' thanks for that, but I really have my heart set out for Pride and Kenzo.

                  And with Jason, zin1953, I can understand that when you've seen one, you've seen them all. That's one reason I don't want to spend the Sunday lingering around more wineries.

                  So it seems that ceekskat's recommendation of Farella or Jason's Domaine Carneros, which are both near Kenzo (I think. I really should have looked at a map and planned this better. Sorry.), are the best to choose from. Hmm..

                  What to do?

                  Again, many thanks for everyone's input. It's great to have a community that cares so much. Any addition thoughts or opinions are really welcome.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: welchanos

                    Well if your heart is set it is set - I strongly encourage you to either move your Kenzo appt to later than noon - or at least let them know you may be late. There is no cellphone service at many of these places, so if you are at Pride and then realize it's 11:30 and there's no way to get to Kenzo by noon - you may not be able to get in touch.

                    1. re: goldangl95

                      Thanks for the information. I just double checked the exact times. Pride starts at 10. And Kenzo is at 12:30. Is that still cutting it close?

                      And in your opinion, goldangI95, would you go to Farella or Carneros after Kenzo?

                      1. re: welchanos

                        you will not make it to kenzo by 12:30 on sat from pride. you will most likely be at pride until 11:30 to 12? i have spent 2 hours + at pride before. if you can push kenzo back to might work.

                        1. re: rickym13

                          Agreed the tour can take half an hour at shortest, but if you are with other people in a a group and they are asking questions enjoying themselves, doing the barrel tastings as well as the formal takes longer. So let's say an hour. Then you have to tack on the time it takes to purchase wine - with all the people of the group holding it up. Plus - Pride's grounds and views are amazing and during the tour you are only in the caves - it's a shame to not wander around at all.

                          I think you can do it in the right amount of time, but it will be tight you'll have to be really on top of your timing, and hope the Pride tour starts on time. You may also have to be prepared to ditch out early if the tour starts late and everything starts getting behind.

                          1. re: goldangl95

                   I am kind of worried. I am thinking that maybe I should stay the night in Napa and reschedule Kenzo to Sunday. The thing is that I hired a driver on Saturday hoping to visit those two wineries. And that is another worry. Hiring a driver is kind of expensive, considering that you have to hire them for a minimum of 6 hours. I don't have the time to hire the driver again just for Kenzo on Sunday. Maybe I can go to Kenzo and just hang out there. I am wondering what the policy is for lingering after the tour and tasting.

                            Thanks for the comments. Please keep them coming.

                            1. re: welchanos

                              I'm not sure if I missed it somewhere in the above posts, but how are you getting from SF to Napa & back? Is the six hours hired car only for your winery tours? Just wondering the need to hire a driver.

                              1. re: ceekskat

                                Actually, we are flying to San Francisco on Friday, staying downtown for a night, and then heading to Napa on Saturday (and now possibly staying Sunday), before going back to San Francisco. So we only have a day or two in Napa.

                                To get around, we are going to rent a car from SFO.

                                I thought of hiring a driver because I was worried about being under the influence after visiting the wineries. I thought of calling a cab or something like that, but it just seems that getting a driver would be the better option.

                          2. re: rickym13

                            Just asked Kenzo if they could make the time later and they replied that they could push it to 1pm. Do you think that this would be doable?

                            The last resort is to reschedule Kenzo to Sunday. But as, I said, I won't have a driver on Sunday.

                            1. re: welchanos

                              I think since you have your heart clearly set on this plan that you should push it to 1 pm and make do.

                              Get to Pride a little early wander around the grounds before your appt a bit, keep an eye on the time . You'll get to Kenzo before 1 pm - make sure the driver is familiar with the routes and that you are familiar as well so you don't waste time getting lost (you can lose smartphone service so print the directions out).

                              1. re: goldangl95

                                Thanks so much for the advice. So Pride and Kenzo. And after Kenzo, if time allows, to Domaine Carneros.

                                1. re: welchanos


                                  You are a determined man and one willing to drive great distances to reach your goals!

                                  Could you report back after your visit to let us know how it worked out?