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One afternoon of wine

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We've been visiting Napa/Sonoma for 20 years. We have one afternoon in the area in May. We're looking for 1 or 2 hidden gems to visit, as well as one "splurge" tasting. We prefer red, but do not object to tasting white.

Any suggestions?

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  1. Which one are you going to (Napa or Sonoma)? What is your budget e.g. per tasting and per bottle? Any red wines you prefer? Are you resistant to making appointments?

    Here's a potential itinerary discussion for Napa (very cab centric): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/896735

    10 Replies
    1. re: goldangl95

      We're driving up from SFO and staying in Yountville for the night. Love cabs and pinot noirs. We like to keep the bottles under $50, but have been known to go above and beyond for something special. We don't mind spending on the tasting if we can recoup the price on the purchase.(We did that at Joseph Phelps last year.)

      Thanks for the link.

      1. re: wandasue

        $50 will be hard to find in Napa (Standard price seems to be more around $75-$85 these days).

        One that fits and is on the way to Yountville is Sequoia Grove.

        Corison has been raising their prices but I think they are high quality wines at about $60-70. Trespass is also on the lower side. Both are appointment only (about 15-20 minutes north of Yountville).

        1. re: wandasue

          The best pinot in that 'hood is Robert Sinskey - and their tasting experience is exemplary. But they are on the Silverado Trail so it is far from "hidden."

          For hidden gems, you need to head to the mountains, where many of the boutique wineries are and only take appointments. I am personally a fan of the velvety soft cabs from Howell and Spring Mountains.

          Consider Pride, Outpost, Smith Madrone, O'Shaughnessy, or Lamborn.

          1. re: CarrieWas218

            Second Carrie's recs but note all the ones Carrie listed many (if not all) the bottles they offer will be over $50.

            1. re: goldangl95

              Not necessarily...

              Smith Madrone's cab is $45.

              Most cabs are in excess of $50, yes. But the joy of visiting the off-beat wineries often produce other gems that most people don't consider.

              For Lamborn, I am a fan of their Zin and for Outpost, they are doing things with Rhone varietals (Grenache and Petite Sirah) that are often more interesting than cabs.

            2. re: CarrieWas218

              Carrie, I think by "hidden" OP means wines he hasn't heard of/tried before.

              1. re: ChefJune

                Thanks for the suggestions. We've been all over the area in previous travels, so we're familiar with the territory and have had great experiences in the mtn. areas. We value the tasting experience as highly as the wines, and since we live in a state which does not allow wine shipping, we will not be purchasing a great amount. No doubt we can plan a lovely afternoon!

                1. re: wandasue

                  Wandasue, check with Buffalo Shipping. When I worked the wine industry, we would routinely send people there as they had special licenses which allowed them to ship to all fifty states...

                  1. re: CarrieWas218

                    Thanks for the tip!

                    1. re: wandasue

                      BTW, Buffalo Shipping is in downtown Napa...

        2. Hard to know where you've already tasted.

          My favorite Bordeaux blend wine in Napa Valley is "Elevage" by Chimney Rock (in the Stags Leap District. If you've never tasted it, you should!

          1 Reply
          1. re: ChefJune

            Elevage is absolutely wonderful, and at Chimney Rock you will also find single-vineyard cabs that will knock your socks off.

            Also consider James Cole, or right in Yountville, Hope & Grace and Jessup.

          2. if you want a hidden gem, try Paul Matthew in Graton. Their 2009 TNT Vineyard Pinot Noir will please you.
            http://www.paulmathewvineyards.com/ .

            1 Reply
            1. re: pinotho

              Paul Matthew is a great place. If you head out that way, make appointments to taste at Wind Gap and Ryme (share the same space) in Forestville.

            2. I couldn't recommend Little Vineyards in Sonoma more. Small, family winery with only 2200 cases produced per year. Lots of bold, deep reds priced around $15-$40 per bottle. It's the only winery that I've remained a 'member' of, and that's primarily so I have an excuse to stop by every few months to pick up my box and enjoy the tasting area and grounds.

              They're right near Valley of the Moon on Sonoma Hwy.

              1. Just read your comment about the tasting experience . . . the best experiences I have had have been pre-scheduled sit-down tastings at Darioush, Brown Estate and Duckhorn.

                1. Clos du Val on the Silverado Trail is very nice and Bennett Lane winery down towards the end of the trail is good too.

                  1. If you're going to Sonoma (County, not town) and you like Pinot Noirs, I highly recommend Vision Cellars in Forestville. Boutique winery producing about 2K cases a year, mostly single vineyard Pinots. No fruit bombs here! (You'll need an appointment.)

                    Also: my state recently changed its laws, but before, even tho wineries couldn't ship to my home if I ordered on line, they could ship to me if I purchased wine on site at the winery. Check to see if your state allows that.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ChefJune

                      Thanks. I'll look into both.

                    2. Thank you all for the recommendations. We headed right to Forestville from SFO. It was unseasonably warm that day - over 90, so we limited our tasting to 2: Hartford and Merry Edwards. We're looking forward to enjoying our purchases from both.

                      The hit of the day was lunch at Backyard. Fantastic! I also picked up lovely bread from Nightingale.

                      We'll be sure to head back to the area on a future trip to check out more wineries.