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Sep 3, 2012 07:03 AM

Help whittle down Sonoma/Napa Itinerary

I've been searching extensively on this site for wine tastings for an early November trip to Sonoma, RRV and Dry Creek, with a one day trip to Napa, specifically Spring Mountain. We're a group of 6 women early 40's renting a house in the Dry Creek area, and will have a designated driver for 3 days. We like all types of wine, (we don't discriminate), and love everything from bubbly, dry rose to cab and zinfandel. I do believe that the majority probably have a tendency to like the "new world" style rather than the "old world" style taste. I have a list below of several wineries I've seen recommended on this site, but I'm trying to firm up the itinerary, so would appreciate any of your recs. Our group would prefer great wines over great views, but I think I've included a couple of wineries that provide both. Let me know what you think!

Wednesday: Arrive in Sonoma County around 1:00
Martinelli -
Moshin -
Dinner at Diavola Pizzeria
(also looking at Porter Creek, Joseph Swan, Arista)

Thursday - Napa, Spring Mountain
Schramsberg - 10:00
Terra Valentine - 12:00 (will have lunch here along with paired tasting)
Keenan - 2:00
Pride Mountain - 3:45 (their last appt. of the day, thought about having lunch here?)
Dinner - take out food...any recs? I know Wild Sage & Dry Creek Store may have some prepared meals to take home?

Friday - RRV & Dry Creek
Arnot Roberts - 11:00
Lunch - Mateo's Cocina Latina
Papapietro Perry - 3:00
(looking for one more, considering Amista, Vision Cellars, Unti, Acorn, Forth)
Dinner - Scopa, BarnDiva?

Saturday - RRV
Lynmar Estate - 10:00
Copain - 12:00
Thomas George - 1:30 (picnic lunch)
Rochioli - 3:30 (heard great things, but what do you think? wondering since it takes years to get on their mailing list, if this is worth a stop?)
(also considering Arista, Ridge, Woodenhead)
Dinner - cooking & staying in for our last night

Also, forgot to mention, but we'll pay up to $40/tasting and the majority will be purchasing several bottles of wine on this trip, so probably looking to spend up to $75/bottle, but will spend more for an exceptional bottle of wine. Thanks everyone!


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  1. Rochioli (due to the mailing list etc.) often only has one pinot to taste along with a chardonnay and a sauvignon blanc. I actually like their white wines a lot, but definitely if you're seeking out pinots, it's kind of a disappointing stop - so there's that to consider.

    I'd say if you want to do Ridge, it should be on Friday not Saturday, as Ridge is actually very near Papapietro Perry (as compared being near the RRV).

    Woodenhead makes some good wine, I don't find the grounds particularly interesting.

    1 Reply
    1. re: goldangl95

      Thanks for the info on Rochioli. Thinking now we'll go to Ridge instead of Rochioli, and maybe add Woodenhead on Wednesday. Thank you for the tips and I'll report back in November.

    2. If you are coming all the way to Spring Mountain for just one day of tasting in Napa, why don't stay and have dinner here since - arguably - the better restaurants are in Napa?

      Since you are having lunch at noon at Terra Valentine, you could have an early dinner after Pride at any number of great restaurants before heading back to Dry Creek (which is going to be quite a drive and you'd be better off waiting out traffic at a restaurant...)

      My suggestions (asterisks for first choice):
      Calistoga area: JoLe* or SolBar
      St. Helena: Cook* or Goose & Gander
      Yountville: Jeanty*, Bottega, or Bouchon
      Napa: Grace's Table*, Oenetri, Morimoto, or Angele

      1 Reply
      1. re: CarrieWas218

        Actually, I had never thought about that. We have a driver, so it makes sense to have him drive us to dinner as well. I've been to SolBar, Cook, Jeanty, Bottega, & Bouchon. I'm thinking JoLe sounds really good, and it's on the way back to our rental house. Plus, never considered the traffic...thanks for the help & the restaurant recs! We can wait it out at JoLe and enjoy an early dinner. Like I wrote above, I'll be posting an update mid November upon our return from Sonoma/Napa.

      2. We recently spent three days in Healdsburg. We visited both Papapietro Perry and Copain, and enjoyed them--so you've made good choices there.

        Dry Creek Store has lots of good prepared foods, salads, sandwiches and the like. It's a good place to stop in for provisions when you're exploring that area.

        Had lunch at Barndiva, and were somewhat underwhelmed; but I know the place is well regarded, and dinner may be better.

        Unfortunately, Cyrus will be closed by the time of your visit, or I would recommend it as your go-to dinner splurge.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Rapini

          Any other wineries you especially liked? Good to know about Barndiva, although it seems to get high marks on this board. I'm wondering if the dinner is better because it seems like their lunch menu is more limited. Thanks for your input.

          1. re: bubblechick

            We also visited Unti, which is a small winery that emphasizes Italian varietals. They were very friendly and informative; and the wines were good enough that we bought a few bottles to take home. It's well worth a stop on the way to Papapietro Perry, which is just up the road in a modest complex with other tasting rooms.

            We have friends who have a place in Healdsburg, and their thoughts on Mateo's Cocina Latina are that they really wanted to like and support it as a local business, but that it's not quite all that. OTOH, Mateo has many supporters on this board and elsewhere; so, I mentioned this just for what it's worth. Will be interested in your take on the place.

            Besides Cyrus, our other big dinner was at Dry Creek Kitchen. We've dined there about three or four times, and always enjoyed it. The food doesn't match Cyrus, but we were very impressed with how successful the wine pairings were with the prix fixe dinner.

            Have a great time. It would be great if you would post a report after your visit.

            1. re: Rapini

              I will report back in mid November. Thanks for the food and wine recs!

              1. re: Rapini

                You are the first to echo my opinion of Mateo's Cocina Latina! I was waiting until I'd eaten there once more to write anything here, but reading that your friends felt exactly as I did made me want to post something. I ate by myself at the bar, and the service was really pretty offensively bad (the bartender took away the salsa I was using to give it to two handsome guys, never checked back with me, etc.) and the food was just ok. But, as I said, I will go back and see if my experience is more like that of others who rave about the place.

                1. re: Kathleen M

                  Thanks KM, I've been biting my tongue for over 6 mos as well. We went right after the first of the year, on a Monday or Tues IIRC, so figured maybe the chef wasn't in the house, but what occurred was inexcusable. We arrived early, only two other tables occupied. Told we couldn't sit at one of the more roomy ones so sat at a small two top, and then were ignored for 20 minutes.

                  Service was definitely not really interested but did finally take our order. Wife's rib plate was primarily a large piece of bone with maybe three small bites of meat, she shared one with me. Flavor was fantastic but the portion was ridiculous. With 5-6 waitpersons running around you would think we might have a shot... nope.

                  As we got our bill, finally, a couple of larger groups arrived (8-10 people) and received the royal treatment, it was obvious this is what the staff were waiting for.

                  It wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't been building up the experience to my dear wife for so long and been dying to try his food since I'd heard about the farmer's market offerings of the early days.

                  Sorry to say, never again.

          2. Report From Sonoma/Napa Trip:

            Just wanted to post an update on our recent trip to the Sonoma and Napa area. We had a phenomenal trip, and there were some definite favorites. Ok, so here's what we actually did each day:

            Martinelli - nice chardonnay, but overall a little disappointing. Several of us purchased wine and they still charged a tasting fee even for those that purchased wine.
            Harvest Moon - heard they were known for their zins, but I loved their pinots and everyone in our group of 6 bought several bottles of the pinot. Luscious!
            Moshin - I personally loved their granache(bought two bottles) and others in our group bought their zinfandel.
            Thomas George - nothing really wowed me here, but I thought they had a decent viognier
            We went to eat at a pizza place on the Healdsburg Square - Pizzando - great pizza


            Schramsberg - The overall group favorite, their pinots and their cab were excellent, not to mention their stellar bubbly!
            Terra Valentine - loved this tasting! They paired it with cheese, nuts & chocolate. Loved their Amore...most of us purchased bottles of this. Had a nice picnic lunch here.
            Keenan - least favorite of the group, but I really loved their Reserve Merlot and bought 2 bottles
            Pride - excellent wine! Loved everything I tasted here. Gorgeous, gorgeous views! This would have been THE picnic spot...oh well, next time!
            Dinner - had dinner at our rental house (items purchased at Big John's Market)

            Littorai - My personal favorite winery! Chardonnay and Pinots were heavenly! Unfortunately, they were sold out of the chard, but I'll be looking forward to their spring release!
            Lunch - Charcturie on the square in Healdsburg (nice Italian spot, pasta with pesto cream sauce was really good.)
            Dinner - Sandwiches from Wild Sage Deli, good sandwiches and awesome breakfast empanadas!

            Copain - wonderful chardonnay and pinot (they were only tasting one...darn), didn't care for the syrah's, but the pinot we tasted was excellent
            Iron Horse - loved their unoaked chardonnay and beautiful picnic grounds
            Lynmar - lovely grounds, the wine was very good...and pricey

            Dinner - Dry Creek Kitchen - loved, loved it!

            Looking forward to a return trip to try some of the wineries we didn't have a chance to visit. Thanks to everyone for all of your suggestions! Cheers!

            2 Replies
              1. re: bubblechick

                Thanks so much for reporting back! Good to get perspective on what works and what doesn't.