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Best winery for a picnic on Spring mountain, that's not Pride?

Husband and I are taking a day trip to Napa or rather, Spring mountain, next Wednesday, and want to visit 3 wineries. We like low key, friendly places, with well-crafted wine and at least a wine or 2 below $50 so we can buy a bottle if we want, and we'll be bringing picnic supplies. A picnic spot with a view (and a bottle of their wine) would be great, and I'm a sucker for a garden. We enjoy visiting Pride but would like to try new places this trip.

Some options we've noted:
Barnett
Smith-Madrone
Keenan
Terra Valentine
Cain (but perhaps reservations are hard to get?)
But it's hard for me to get a sense of each winery's distinct "feel", and I would welcome other suggestions. Want to narrow the list based on wine quality-to-price, plus a generally relaxed atmosphere. I love to taste reds, but often buy white due to Napa prices.

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  1. You may want to post on winespectator.com or wineberserkers.com for recs. While I've had some of the wines you've listed I've not been to the wineries. Tip of the hat to you for focusing on Spring Mountain fruit.

    1. I have taken a box lunch to Barnett before. They have an upper patio that overlooks the valley (fantastic view). They make several good wines under $50. They have a few Pinot's, Chard's, Cabs and I do not recall what else. My favorite's are their Pinot's and Chard's. Not a big fan of their cabs, but I may have just tasted a couple off years. But anyway, definitely give them a call and see if it's OK to set up a tasting and bring your lunch. I've done it twice and they were very open to doing that....

      Paloma makes a great Merlot, that's about $50, but I have not actually been to their winery. They make a syrah as well, but I'm not too impressed with it....

      Erna Schein makes some really unique wines, most under $50. When I was there last, you also got to taste Behrens and Drinkward Peschon, which are both quite good. Not sure if they do all three at the same place anymore, it's been a couple years since I was there last. I will have to say that if you don't dump, you probably don't want to be driving afterwards. I think we tasted 11 wines when we were there, and they were generous pours.

      Pride has some pretty good wine. I like their Cab Franc and Merlot. They also have a really good sweat white (forgot the varietal).

      Tresspass, at the base of Spring Mnt, is a great place to get an appnt with. Donnie makes one of my favorite Cab Franc's. His Merlot is very good as well, but that's hard to get, as he doesn't make it all the time.

      I have not been to any other wineries on Spr Mnt. I'm sure Maria will add her two cents.

      3 Replies
      1. re: akmike

        With all due respect, I would discourage against Barnett, which we went to last month. We had made plans to celebrate a special occasion with a pre-ordered picnic from Barnett, which we had planned on enjoying at the top of the mountain. We were really looking forward to it, but unfortunately, we left feeling like it had been a waste of time and money. The man giving the tour was more into talking to the other two guests about Chicago and baseball stats. The tour was "canned" and he admitted to not knowing a whole lot more than just regurgitating the facts he had learned to recite. To make matters worse, when it came time for us to celebrate and enjoy the picnic, a limousine full of women arrived with no reservation and took over one of the picnic areas. Barnett's people were visibly annoyed, yet they still let it happen, even though we had not only reserved space for a picnic, but had also ordered it through them. And BTW, did I mention that the picnic was $80? That left us jockeying for space in the remaining area with the other couple on the tour who had also purchased the picnic. Although it was a beautiful view, they were newlyweds and we were celebrating a special occasion,so....let's just say, that having each other a few inches apart definitely was a bummer. For the first time ever, we left without purchasing wine. We did manage to salvage the afternoon at Pride. Their $75pp private tour is pricey, however, on that particular day, with Greg, it was worth every penny. We left happy...and with wine.

        1. re: buoncibo

          Wow..... So sorry to hear about that. I supose they have bad days, along with good days. It has probably been three years since my last visit there. When I was there last, our tour / tasting was with the winery manager and very intimate.

          In light of this news, the Barens Family sight might be a better option for the OP. But seeing how my info is dated, that might not be a very good place to go either. I'll just shut up now......

          1. re: akmike

            I like the Trespass idea, and love cab franc, even though their pricing is veering out of our affordability range. Barnett's website specifically prohibits outside food, but I'll ask when I call (kind of a bad sign in my book, though.)

      2. I think we're narrowed down to Keenan and Smith-Madrone, based on affordability and laid back tasting experience. If anyone recommends a third to pair with these two, please tell!

        3 Replies
        1. re: leeinsf

          Keenan has no view has picnic tables. Smith Madrone you can do a picnic up on the grass on the hillside with a nice view, but their picnic tables have no view.

          1. re: leeinsf

            Keenan is a great choice for the exact reasons you describe and their wines are good. However, as goldang has pointed out, no view nor tables.

            Give tiny Relic Wine Cellars a call & see if there is any space/table to picnic there. Tasting is inside (not sure if that has changed) an old airstream and it is located right next to a couple of other wineries and has a mountain overlook. We liked the Ritual & the Old Vines Petit Sirah (approx. $50 & $60 if I recall). You can also find out what they are pouring & what the price range is for the bottles that are available. My memory is hazy regarding tasting fee refund... a dollar minimum I believe but given pricing, we had to buy to bottles to meet requirement.

            ETA - Relic may be next to Erna Schein/Behren's as akmike pointed out upthread.
            Enjoy your trip...we love Spring Mountain.

            1. re: ceekskat

              When I was at Erna Schein, they were pouring Relic as well as Behrens and Drinkward. I believe that all these labels are all owned and operated by individual Behrens family members. That was a few years ago, so I'm not sure if they pour each at the same place anymore. Unless they've changed since I was there, the atmosphere was totally laid back and comfortable. This is one of my favorite places in Napa to visit and I need to do so again. The only problem with that, is that there are sooooo many wineries I have not visited yet, it's hard for me to go back to a place I've been before.

          2. Thank you everyone for your suggestions. We ended up visiting Robert Keenn Winery, then Schweiger. We tried to make an appointment at Smith-Madrone, but they were bottling next day and not accepting visitors.
            Laura at Keenan was friendly, and they were harvesting their cab grapes, so we got to taste grapes and some fresh juice, which was fun. Nice wine and particularly loved their cab franc (at $60 too expensive for my bank). Bought a bottle of 10 chard, and a 08 cab, and their merlot was tempting, too. Also, we did picnic at their tables. While the tables don't have a "big" view, to us the view of the vineyard below, along with the soulnds of the working winery, was lovely.
            Schweiger was fun too, although James our host was in danger of writing us off as yahoos without big wallets. This always annoys me - why should I have to work to warm them up to the fact that I do have taste, a little, and can buy, a little. (If they do that to SFers who've made 20 Napa trips, how do they treat folks from Kansas?) Luckily an industry worker showed up and tasted with us, which warmed James up, and we had lively conversation and some good wine. He let us taste a 98 (I think) cab, which was lovely. We debated style diferences in the 07 cab and the 07 Dedication, their blend. I bought a bottle of the 07 cab.
            Looking forward to next time!