Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Jan 29, 2013 05:11 AM

One day in Napa - please weigh in on my itinerary

Going to Napa from SF on a Wednesday in March with a group of 8 people (plus 1 toddler). For most of the group, the ambiance and scenery are more important than the wine (although they tend to favor Rieslings and other sweet whites). The rest, including myself, prefer Cabs. I've been to Napa several times but never tasted on Spring Mountain, so I thought that focusing on that area would be a good combination of nice views and good wine. So, I have put together the following itinerary:

7AM: Leave SF (staying at the Hotel Drisco, driving rental car) for Napa. Breakfast pastries at Bouchon Bakery. Pick up picnic supplies at Dean & Deluca, Sunshine Foods, or Oakville Grocery (anywhere else I should consider? Any thoughts on how to decide between these would be appreciated)

10AM: Tasting at Smith-Madrone

11AM: Tasting at Pride, followed by picnic on the Pride grounds

130PM: Tasting at Terra Valentine

3PM: Tasting at Spring Mountain

630PM: Dinner at Grace's Table (based on the overwhelming love from this board)

Then to the Westin Verasa to spend the night. Headed back to SF the following morning to get to the Ferry Building for lunch.

Thoughts? My specific questions are:

1. Is this feasible or will we be too rushed?

2. Are there other wineries on Spring Mountain that I should swap with the ones I've picked? I have made appointments at the times listed above, but am willing to change if needed.

3. I will talk to the specific wineries to discuss this, but any suggestions/considerations for bringing an 18-month along? Is this generally accepted or will we get pushback?

Thank you very much for your help with this.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I am a dissenter on the breakfast pastries from Bouchon in that I prefer Sweetie Pie or Model Bakery's breakfast offerings. Bouchon excels in its French pastries (eclairs and cakes) which, for me, are less breakfast-like. Sweetie Pie's pecan caramel roll is incomparable and Model Bakery does a breakfast tartine I eat at least once a month.

    Your itinerary is a *little* too rushed. The guys at Smith Madrone are a hoot and between them and Pride, you would have your morning locked up. An hour between the two is too rushed. Besides, you will probably want to linger a bit at Dean & Deluca or Sunshine (don't bother with Oakville). Then hit Pride first. Go to Smith Madrone after and kill either TV or SM before heading back down-valley.

    If money is no option, you might consider dinner at Goose & Gander right there in St. Helena instead of the drive down-valley to Grace's. I love Grace's, but it is a locals favorite for a reason; great food for a budget. If you have some cash to burn and want a cut above, Goose & Gander or Terra might be better options since you are closer at that point.

    1. Your itinerary is fine - though if you CAN I'd flip Smith Madrone with TV or Spring Mountain. For the reasons Carrie said.

      We stayed about an hour and a half (maybe two hours) at Smith Madrone - but that was simply because we kept talking and we also lay out on their grass for awhile since it was a beautiful day.

      They have three wines to pour and you can certainly taste, walk around a bit, and get on to the next winery in an hour. It's just a shame to end the experience early - if you do enjoy meeting them - because it's one of the few places where you have complete access to the winemakers/owners.

      1. From Spring Mountain Vineyard's website:

        "we request that all members of the party be at least 21. We apologize but we cannot accommodate babies in arms..."

        I would suggest Keenan as a replacement but not sure your friends would appreciate it. Laid back, rustic with nice reds. Very friendly and may be a dog to entertain the toddler too!

        1. Thank you all so much for your suggestions.

          Unfortunately, I called Smith Madrone and they cannot accommodate us that afternoon. I would still like to taste there, so I think we will try to make it work in the morning. I was able to push back our Pride appointment time, so while we may still be rushed, I think that's the best I can do.

          And, I swapped out Spring Mountain for Keenan. They, and the other 3 of my original choices, had no problem with us bringing a toddler.

          Carrie, thanks also for the food suggestions. I think we'll give Model Bakery a try, and may well switch to Goose and Gander depending on the mood of the group.

          Thanks again!

          1. I love tasting on Spring Mountain and Pride is one of my favorites. They take you on a tour though while you taste so it can take a good hour to get through it and driving around that area takes much longer than you might realize. I also like Keenan, they are very laid back. I also enjoy Schweiger and we have picnicked there as well.

            If you decide to go to Model Bakery, I would highly recommend their egg sandwiches with their homemade english muffins, so delicious! I always grab our picnic provisions from the oxbow market as well. The cheese guy is really knowledgeble and very happy to give you tastes. If you can get stuff from Fatted Calf, that is always amazing. Their premade sandwiches are so good.

            FYI, from downtown Napa/Oxbow to top of Spring is about 1 hour drive, esp if there is traffic through St. Helena.