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May 20, 2013 01:01 PM

Representative winery itinerary for short Napa trip

My husband and I are headed to Napa for a short weekend trip to celebrate our anniversary.
Other than 2 trips to Healdsburg, where we were lucky enough to be in the company of friends who grew up in the winemaking business and made all the arrangements, this will be our first trip to Napa proper and on our own.

I think we’ll have only a single full day (Saturday) to visit wineries, and I figure we’ll be able to hit 3-4 wineries.
I’d like to do a winery tour, a sparkling wine producer, and a winery with lovely grounds for bringing in a picnic, but these don’t have to be mutually-exclusive.
It looks like drive times between where we’re staying in Napa to neighboring cities are only 15-30 min, but I know Napa Valley traffic can be unpredictable and don’t want to lose the day spending too much time in the car.

After perusing the boards, I’m interested in the following wineries.
Is there an itinerary among these or similar well-regarded places that makes sense for my needs?

Artesa (Napa)
Di Rosa Preserve (Napa)
Domaine Chandon (Yountville)
Far Niente (Oakville)
Frog’s Leap (Rutherford)
Mumm (Rutherford)
Cakebread (Rutherford)
Spring Mountain (St. Helena)
Pride (St. Helena)
Duckhorn (St. Helena)
Schramsberg (Calistoga)

We have a Friday 1pm lunch reservation at TFL. Would Chandon be possible to do before or after that meal without negatively affecting the experience?
We’ll perhaps also have 2 half days on Thursday and Sunday, but will be driving from/to the city in both cases.

Thanks for your assistance!

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  1. DiRosa is a fabulous place, but it is not a winery -- it is an art preserve that takes several hours AND a reservation.

    Where are you staying? You mention 15 to 30 minute travel times but from downtown Napa to Pride itself is about 45 minutes -- and could be considerably more during tourist season.

    Since you only have one day, pick a small area to stay in so your travels will be shorter. This is a great thread on Carneros where you could get almost everything you want (picnic area, sparkling, etc.)

    Doing Chandon just before a TFL meal is a great idea, actually. It is lighter on the stomach, has lovely grounds, and won't get you too snockered.

    Lastly, are you seriously considering driving to-and-from San Francisco on Thursday and Sunday? I'm just trying to figure out your whole itinerary and it seems like you've set yourself up for way too much car time...

    4 Replies
    1. re: CarrieWas218

      Thanks CarrieWas218.
      We'll be staying at the Westin Verasa, near Oxbow Market.

      I was thinking to pick a single area to stay around as well, but as you can see from my list, I was mostly thinking north of Napa so your Carneros suggestion is a curve ball.

      Is the traffic going north really that much worse than west?
      I have to admit I'll be disappointed if the traffic dictates that we can't visit a single one of the wineries in the list.

      Finally yes, we will be driving to/from SF on Thursday and Sunday. We are flying in from LA and this trip is entirely planned around when we got the restaurant res. So Friday is really TFL day, Saturday is tastings, and the rest is just travel unfortunately.

      1. re: TracyS

        Okay, I understand now...

        I was thinking - for some reason - that you were coming back-and-forth every day.

        You could do some Carneros stuff on your half-day on Thursday; either en route in or after checking into your hotel. That is a much easier area to get to from your hotel.

        The North Valley options you listed are at least a half-hour drive and possibly more if you take Highway 29. They have been doing some crazy road construction around St. Helena and just going through that three mile stretch can take up to a half-hour. Stick to the Silverado Trail to-and-from and you will be much, much happier.

        You could conceivable do a tour like Schramsberg (my favorite sparkling) before French Laundry because after lunch, you aren't going to want to do much of anything...

        Use Saturday to go up-valley towards Pride and Spring Mountain (going up Silverado!) and then for Sunday, you will have an easier time with the Rutherford locations you want.

        1. re: CarrieWas218

          Hmm thought I replied yesterday, but my post has disappeared.

          Ahh got it .. we're from LA but we don't like to drive THAT much =) Thanks for the Silverado Trail tip - we'll definitely avoid Hwy 29 then.

          While Schramsberg sounds great, I'm a little concerned about it being too out of our way in Calistoga. If we don't manage to make it there, would you recommend Chandon or Mumm for a better bubbly experience?

          If we do St. Helena/Spring Mtn on Saturday, I'm thinking a 10am tour and tasting at Pride followed by a picnic on their grounds, Spring Mtn tasting at 1pm (or 2pm?), and wrapping up at 3pm at one of Duckhorn, Terra Valentine, or Quintessa. Does that timing sound about right?

          Thanks again!

          1. re: TracyS


            Quintessa is a *beautiful* building but their wines are over-extracted (I think) and Terra Valentine is just fine, but Duckhorn (or Paraduxx, their sister winery) are more interesting.

            Of the two bubbly producers, I prefer Chandon for both product and atmosphere. Mumm is amazing for the view of the deck, but I like the Chandon experience far more...

    2. Try to schedule your winery visits so that each day you focus on one small area so you don't spend a lot of time backtracking. Also while the wineries on Hwy 29 are pretty easy / fast to get to, if you go into the mountains like for Pride it takes a while. Also if you want to maximize number of wineries, then try to minimize on appointment-only places as it puts you in a time-crunch / schedule maintenance which can be a hassle to manage.

      I'm a big fan of Duckhorn/Paraduxx. I'd just do Pride & skip Spring Mountain, but honestly if it's your first Napa visit and you're short of time, I'm not sure I'd go to either as the appointment-only is a hassle. Artesa is pretty but the wines aren't my favorite. If you're somewhat knowledgeable about wine, I really like the blend classes (I've tried the ones at Paraduxx & Franciscan) -- downside is that they're appt only and take quite a bit of time (~2 hours), but it's really cool to have such a hands-on class and learn about wine blending.