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May 15, 2013 08:32 AM

1 day in Carneros/Napa


I am traveling with my family to San Francisco this upcoming weekend, May 17-20. We plan to spend the day in Carneros/Napa on Friday the 17th. Most of the group has been to Napa before, and we are returning for a day of fun and wine tasting. We plan to first stop at Domaine Carneros for some bubbly, and then see maybe 2 other wineries and have lunch (either a sit down lunch or picnic style depending on weather). We have to be back in SF by 6pm, so we don't want to travel too far North. We just want to hit some nice wineries that are close enough to Carneros, lower Sonoma or Napa such that we can have a nice, relaxing day and not spend the entire day in the car driving all over the place. Any suggestions would be great! Thank you so much.

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  1. Considering your time constraints, I would stick with Sonoma as a nicer and easier day trip.

    In Carneros, my favorite wineries (besides the bubbly you've already chosen) would be Gundlach Bundschu for great wine, Artesa for great architecture, and Buena Vista for great history. En route is also Cline which is my favorite in that region for its varietals (mostly Rhone) and value, which is exceptional.

    Downtown Sonoma is a great little place to wander; you can shop, get picnic supplies and eat in the square, or the best lunch on the square could be had from La Salette. In Carneros proper, Boon Fly would be another great choice if you want to stick to wine and avoid shopping.

    I would avoid Napa as a fun alternative, but a time-suck for your travel constraints. You will have a more relaxed time if you stay on the Sonoma-side of Carneros.

    3 Replies
    1. re: CarrieWas218

      What type of experience are you looking for? Gundlach Bundschu, Cline, Artesa and Domaine Carneros as a set are the most well trafficked wineries and can get very packed on weekends. I'd make sure to do at least one winery that is a bit more out of the way/or by appointment.

      1. re: goldangl95

        I am thinking that we will do Domaine Carneros and 2 other less touristy vineyards. I read the link you supplied, and I can get our group into the 3pm wine/cheese pairing at Etude on Friday. That may be one to consider. And then one other one from that list, maybe Truchard, Adastra, and Ram's Head looks wonderful. Thanks for all the food for thought!
        I stayed at the Carneros Inn years ago, but used it as our home base for exploring Napa, St. Helena and Diamond Mountain. So it will be nice to relax and really enjoy the area as opposed to running all over Napa trying to pack in as many sights as possible!

      2. re: CarrieWas218

        Thank you for your advice. All of this sounds great, and I appreciate your advice about avoiding Napa. I spent 3 days in Napa a few years ago, and visited about 10-12 vineyards so I would love to do something different. The Sonoma wineries you mention sound wonderful, I will look into them. Thank you again!!!

      3. I would stick to Carneros - no use eating up a lot of your time in transit. This is a great set of activities/meals/wineries from the area:

        One winery to consider that may be en route is Ram's Gate. It is very far south, fairly new, and has a good reputation.