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Which napa winery? Have to pick one!

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We will be going to Napa for basically two full days. Day 2 is chock-full of smaller wineries such as Pina Cellars, Paraduxx, etc. Day one we only have room for 1 winery. We are trying to decide which winery to go to for day 1, on Labor Day weekend.

This is our first time to Napa and will be our only time for many years. We are trying to find the best "experience" for this winery; e.g. a tour, tasting as well as potentially a very light vineyard picnic (ideally). The timing would also have to call for a 11am-1PM tour start, as we hope to do a sparkling tasting later in the day, before 6PM dinner reservations.

I think we are down to deciding between Kenzo Estate, Vine Creek, Hess, Chimney Rock or Frog's Leap. For Frog's Leap we wouldn't be able to have a light picnic (they do not have a permit), and Chimney Rock is unclear at this time.

We enjoy good wines, but are more novices than experts. I like the idea of going to a Chimney Rock or Frog's Leap, where we will see the wines on wine lists down the road (e.g., back East). I like the idea of the Kenzo experience as well. I also like the service/relaxation of Vine Creek as well.

Ideally we would taste both reds and whites... medium/full reds and more agnostic on the whites.

Any suggestions between these four wineries? Or is there another winery we should have considered? Our friends have managed to get invitations to St. Helena winery -- is this a tasting not to be missed, even if it screws up our sparkling wine tour/tasting? We could visit a place like Honig which has its own picnic tables and bring our own food... or visit a winery like Round Pond which I am unfamiliar with and has a a modest food pairing.

thank you

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  1. Frog's Leap is far more earthy/restrained in style than many Napa California wines. Some really like the style, but for other's not so much. So it depends what you like. Frog's Leap grounds are laidback and pretty but they're not especially unique.

    This is a recent thread on Napa that may provide some guidance:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8442...

    1 Reply
    1. re: goldangl95

      Here is the New York Times article on Frog's Leap. I'd say it's unique.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/20/din...

      Moreover, it's a lovely setting. The whites are especially well made, the Zinfandel is a standout. The big red barn and Victorian main house are picturesque, and the grounds are known for their many varieties of fruits and vegetables.

      Frog's Leap is certified organic, and you would be hard-pressed to find a more informed, eloquent, joyous and spiritually-attuned viticulturalist than its owner John Williams. In fact, the entire staff is fun and well-informed.

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6439...
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6439...

    2. Thank you for the tips.

      I'm leaning towards Chimney Rock for their vineyard luncheon. I like the Round Pond option as well, but not sure if I will like the wines as much. Kenzo veto'd by another member of our group. Vine Creek and Hess are options, but lack the "package" we are looking for. Frog's Leap does not have any picnic tables (no permit), although I really like the idea of doing a tasting while walking through vineyards.