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Yup, another Sonoma and Napa thread! Almost complete itinerary.

Will be there in late January and after extensive research, plotting on Google Maps, and hundreds of threads I just need help to edit down wineries and am hoping to get any other dining ideas - if I have something terrible on there just tell me, I can take it :)

What we eat: Anything - seriously.
What we drink: Really any reds, we are not wine connoisseurs but do enjoy good wine. Him big Cab's, anything full bodied. Me: Pinot Noir's (Merry Edwards is a favorite), Zin's, and Cab's with smooth tannins. We're planning on bringing home 3-4 mixed cases.

Friday/Napa:
*Joseph Phelps, Milat, Karl Lawrence, Von Strasser, Corison*

-Arrive into Oakland at 8:30am, pick up car, drive to Napa area
-La Luna Taqueria for lunch
-Drive to Healdsburg
-Willi's Seafood Bar for dinner

Saturday/RRV:
*Littorai, Merry Edwards, Siduri, Freeman, Lynmar, Copain, or Martin Ray*

-Will have driver and will be sharing some tastings, hoping to do 5 wineries.
-Willow Wood for lunch
-Bear Republic Brewing for casual dinner

Sunday/Dry Creek:
*Mozzocco, Zichichi, Papapietro Perry, Family Wineries, or Ridge*

- Or will wander to the in town tasting rooms.
- Flexible based on how our palates are after 2 days, none of these places require appointments.
- Lunch TBD - any ideas?
- Scopa for dinner.

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  1. I'm really confused....

    You have Friday in Napa but then arrive in Oakland with a drive to Healdsburg for dinner?

    Honestly, if you are arriving in Oakland and then heading to Napa for tasting, it makes little sense to finish in Healdsburg for dinner (if THAT is what you are trying to say). It is a LOT of driving.

    Where are you staying during the whole trip?

    17 Replies
    1. re: CarrieWas218

      Staying in Healdsburg, on the plaza, for the whole trip - hence all the dinner choices being right in Healdsburg. I considered staying in Napa on Friday night but got a great deal if I stayed all 3 nights in Healdsburg.

      Will it be TOO much driving for one day? I tried to pick Napa wineries based on quality but also none too far off the main roads to help with that somewhat.

      1. re: PHXeater

        It *is* a lot of driving... easily an hour-and-a-half each way and, for a Saturday before dinner (when the wineries are closing), it could be upwards of two hours on the road.

        If you are dead-set on tasting at some Napa wineries, I would suggest eating in Napa and then the drive back to Healdsburg could be as little as an hour after the traffic dies down. You could still eat fairly early and because you had chosen Bear Republic (seeing you wanted more casual dining), you could hit the Oxbow Market after wineries close, eat around 5:30ish and be on the road to Healdsburg by 7:00/7:30 and not have it be too late to check-in and enjoy the room and rest up for the next day.

      2. re: CarrieWas218

        As I read the itinerary, PHXeater is arriving at Oakland at 8:30am on Friday and planning to stop at Joseph Phelps et al. on the way from Oakland to Healdsburg. Five wineries might be a long day but it seems doable.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Yes, he clarified that. But then driving to Healdsburg for dinner after five wineries is going to be tiring.

          1. re: CarrieWas218

            They're staying on the plaza in Healdsburg so they can walk to dinner.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Robert, did you read that I suggested driving from Oakland to Napa [to taste at five wineries] and THEN to Healdsburg for dinner was a lot of driving and putting them in the nastiest part of wine-country traffic (4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.) - suggesting they stay in Napa for dinner instead to avoid the traffic?

              1. re: CarrieWas218

                They're arriving in Oakland at 8:30am. Seems to me they have plenty of time to do some tasting around St. Helena, check into their hotel in Healdsburg before rush hour, have a chance to rest and freshen up, and not have to get back in the car after dinner.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  And I contend if they try to hit five wineries in Napa, they will be finishing up the last one around 4:00/5:00ish, which will make their drive to Healdsburg a two-hour trip, at least, which could be quite tiring.

                  Easier to just dine in Napa and avoid the traffic.

                  1. re: CarrieWas218

                    Thanks for the input, I appreciate hearing multiple opinions (and sorry for not being clearer in explaining the details of my stay).

                    I think we'll cut down our winery appointments to 3 and have a couple spots in mind that don't require appointments that we can stop into to give flexibility. Any suggestions on which wineries to cut or any "musts" that I don't have listed? I just read Karl Lawrence is dissolving so sounds like that's a cut.

                    Also, since we'll be there in late January, which I understand is the low season, will traffic be as much of a concern?

                    1. re: PHXeater

                      PHXeater, traffic will not be nearly as bad, but if it is raining, it can be bad. And it will be dark so unless you know the roads, it will be a little more complicated since they are two-lane and windy. You will have to go slow to watch for the signs from Napa to Healdsburg - it is easy to miss turn-offs.

                      1. re: CarrieWas218

                        If their flight's more or less on time they should be in St. Helena by around 11, which is plenty of time to have lunch, visit three wineries, and still get to Healdsburg before dark, not that that matters too much if you have a GPS.

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          The sun sets about 5:00 in January. To get to Healdsburg before dark, they would have to be on the road by 3:30 - not enough time for three wineries and a lunch.

                          1. re: CarrieWas218

                            Taqueria stop for lunch shouldn't be more than half an hour. That would leave four hours to hit three wineries all within a few miles of St. Helena.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Robert, that's exactly why we're doing the taqueria and not a more formal lunch as originally planned. I appreciate the feedback on travel times - that was a concern of mine. I think we'll stick with dinner in Healdsburg rather than dread another long drive and not be able to enjoy dinner in Napa. I'm going to try to line up 1, 2, and 3pm appointments and have a couple places that require no appointments so we can go to those if we get to Napa quickly.

                              Any ideas for great wineries that don't require appointments around St. Helena would be great.

                              1. re: PHXeater

                                It's always a good idea to make an appointment even if you won't stay long. You always get a better tasting. Call ahead even if it's the day of, or morning of.

                                I think you should stick with your original list of wineries. Phelps, Karl Lawrence (if you can -- try to get an appt -- they are worth it), Milat, Von Strasser all all good. Phelps makes beautiful Rhone wines as well as legendary Cabs (Insignia). Karl Lawrence's wines are beautiful -- hope you can try them. Do a search for the Chowhound named Whiner and his writeups of Karl Lawrence. Milat is highly regarded. Von Strasser's Cabs are consistently lovely -- the 2009s are fantastic across the board. The only winery that's iffy to me (and my palate) is Corison.

                                Carrie makes an excellent point about driving and safety. You will be driving a windy, twisty road to Healdsburg after wine-tasting (if you stick with your plan) and you will have to be careful. Be advised.

                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                  Mature Corison wines are often relatively good values in restaurants compared with retail.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    Not my cup of tea...or glass of wine. I've never understood the appeal.

      3. I ate at the Willie's in Santa Rosa back in June and liked it and really liked the Zin at Zichichi. The people there were really nice and friendly. Ended up buying a case and a half. Just delicious. The Cabs not bad either. Just pushed all my buttons.