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Oct 23, 2012 11:24 AM

Sonoma/Napa winery choices

I posted overall itinerary on SF board but am looking for feedback on how to narrow down my wineries as I don't have enough time to do them all. We are not wine connoisseurs but we are both very interested in wineries where they have great wine at a good value (whether it's an outstanding $150 cab or a great $30 wine for at home) as well as engaged pourers who are willing to take time to discuss the different regions, varietals, etc. of wine they are pouring. We are in our 20's but serious about learning more about wine and purchasing,

What we drink: Usually focus on reds, although I enjoy sparkling, he does not. Him: anything full bodied. Me: Pinot Noir's (Merry Edwards is a favorite), Zin's without overwhelming spice/pepper, and Cab's with smooth tannins. We're planning on bringing home 3-4 mixed cases.

If we're missing any particular styles or must go to wineries please let me know as well, we are not limited to this list.

Friday - Napa:
Joseph Phelps
Karl Lawrence
Von Strasser

Saturday - Russian River Valley:
Merry Edwards
Martin Ray

Sunday - Dry Creek/Alexander Valley:
Papapietro Perry
Family Wineries

Monday am: Paul Hobbs tour + tasting
(departing out of Oakland Monday night)

- We will also wander to the in town tasting rooms in Healdsburg if possible as that's where we're staying

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  1. I don't know if you will be able to go to Karl Lawrence, they are being dissolved and the remaining inventory is being sold.

    Visiting Adam Lee at Siduri should be interesting, but be aware that it is a "warehouse winery" which means exactly what it sounds like. However, Adam is a very interesting person and one of the best winemakers around.

    We just got back from the Alexander Valley a month ago and really enjoyed our visit. If you can get an appointment, you should try to visit Radio Coteau. They sound right up your alley for wines. Again, nothing fancy, just a warehouse winery with some wonderful wines. (I've been buying them since they first started in 2001)

    Papapietro Perry should be fun, great wines.

    4 Replies
    1. re: dinwiddie

      Second you my have trouble with Karl Lawrence, when we tried to go a few months back they weren't taking any appointments.

      I'd drop Mozzocco - decent but with Zichichi and Ridge, no need. Would replace with Talty or Sbragia.

      1. re: goldangl95

        Disappointing about Karl Lawrence, it sounded like the kind of experience, wine, and value I was looking for.

        Siduri being a "warehouse winery" is fine with us, we're going in January so are not expecting great views. If something has a good view we might snap a picture, but that's about it. We like the idea of having a variety of settings anyways.

        I'll look into the other suggestions, keep any other ideas coming!

        1. re: goldangl95

          Disagree. I'd keep Mazzocco but I'd drop Papapietro and substitute in Wilson, Pezzi King or Mauritson. Sbragia makes some lovely wines, also.

      2. Do not miss Littorai. IMO the best Pinot and Chardonnay producer on your list. Another top producer of PN Chard and Zin is Benovia. They have lured Mike Sullivan away from Hartford Court and he is making superb wines there. (Just as an aside, the owner of Benovia lives in Phoenix.)

        1 Reply
        1. re: jock

          We visited Benovia while we were there in August. I agree that it is a very good place to visit, but you do need an appointment. We ended up sending back a case and a half from them alone. Besides, it is a beautiful place and has a very nice tasting room.

          If you are into chards and sparklers, try Iron Horse. That is their forte and the view is great. Agree Ridge is a good visit, but to be honest, I normally visit wineries that I can't buy the wines here on the east coast easily. Ridge is always easy to get.

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. My favorite pinot producer in Sonoma is Mac McDonald at Vision Cellars. I think you'd enjoy tasting with him very much. His wines are a delight, and he's a lot of fun to hang out with. They're on West Side Road in Forestville. You would need an appointment. Their web site is

            1. Thanks for all the great ideas! I appreciate everyone taking the time for a non wine expert. I'm planning to sit down and research the wineries mentioned and then post more of a final itinerary once it gets closer and I have appointments set.

              Also, I was able to get an appointment at Karl Lawrence! The gentleman I was corresponding with was very open about them being in flux currently and admitted there wasn't a ton of info now but hopefully he would have more information for me when I visit in January. However it didn't sound to me as if the entire operation was shutting down.