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Yet another Napa itinerary, and I have done my research!

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brandygirl Jun 11, 2013 04:57 PM

I have been scouring the boards for ideas and, thanks to so many of you, have come up with the following itinerary. I will be there next week with my sister. I'm hoping my timing is right. Please let me know what you think.
Monday night we are staying at the Best Western Ivy in Napa.
Tuesday and Wednesday we will be at the Harvest Inn in St. Helena.

MONDAY:
Driving in from Carmel. Plan to stop at CUVAISON and possibly DOMAINE CARNEROS before checking into our hotel. If time, we would also like to do a little shopping either in downtown Napa or Yountville before dinner at REDD.

TUESDAY:
Breakfast: maybe driving to Boon Fly Cafe if not too far, or go to C Casa or Model Bakery at Oxbow Market. Or any other ideas?
11 am-12:30 reservations at FAR NIENTE for a tour and tasting.
12:30-1:00 if time allows, ELIZABETH SPENCER WINERY.
Lunch: GOTT'S in St. Helena, or any better ideas?
2:30-4:30 JOSEPH PHELPS seminar/tasting
5:30 possible wine tasting at LONG MEADOW RANCH before dinner
Dinner: FARMSTEAD

WEDNESDAY:
(We are hiring a designated driver and plan to spit/dump)
Breakfast: at our hotel, unless there is a not-to-be-missed breakfast in St. Helena
We have reservations at the following wineries, each 1 hour apart:
PALOMA
SMITH-MADRONE
PRIDE
Lunch: picnic at Pride with supplies from either SUNSHINE FOOD or DEAN & DELUCA
In the afternoon, after lunch, we have reservations for:
SCHWEIGER
ROBERT KEENAN
Dinner: Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen

THURSDAY:
Again, breakfast at our hotel unless there is somewhere in either St. Helena or Calistoga we should not miss. We plan on visiting CHATEAU MONTELENA and then driving back to Carmel.

  1. b
    brandygirl Jun 23, 2013 12:46 AM

    We just got back from a great trip. First, the food.

    BREAKFAST:
    One morning we went to BOON FLY CAFE, and it did not disappoint. I had their Eggs-in-a Hole, which was cooked perfectly, and my sister had the B.E.L.T. sandwich.which was huge. We both enjoyed a couple of small cinnamon sugar donuts, which were great. Unfortunately I had to forgo their legendary Bloody Mary as we had a full day of wine tasting. The rest of our breakfasts were at our hotel.

    LUNCH:
    Tuesday we had a quick lunch at LA LUNA MARKET. This was actually my favorite meal of the trip! I had their Super Burrito with Carnitas and my sister had a couple of tacos. I would have been happy eating there every day.

    Wednesday we got picnic supplies from SUNSHINE FOOD, and yes, they do have an incredible selection of cheese as well as salami. We got a picnic table with a beautiful view at Pride and opened up a bottle of their Viognier--just perfect.

    Our last lunch in Napa was GOTT'S. We both had burgers, which was probably a mistake. Their burgers were good, but certainly not better or much different than what we could get at a restaurant in L.A. I would much rather have gone back to La Luna.

    DINNER:
    REDD I think was my sister's favorite meal of the trip, and I enjoyed it also. I don't remember what we started with, but I do know we loved our appetizers. Sister had the duck breast for her entree and was in heaven. I had the halibut which was good but not great--it was slightly overcooked, but it was still flavorful thanks to their seasoning. For dessert, we shared the Cherry Cheesecake. It was so good, I still dream about it.

    FARMSTEAD was great. We shared the ribs and the cheeseburger, and both were terrific. The sauce on the ribs was perfect. The burger was cooked perfectly and was juicy and flavorful. The potatoes that came with the burger were some of the best potatoes I've had. They were slightly crunchy on the outside and well seasoned.

    On our last night we decided on LA CONDESA. I had the sauteed shrimp which was good and light. My sister had carne asada tacos, which were not so good--mostly gristle. I liked their Margarita, chips, salsas, and guacamole, but honestly I enjoyed my meal at La Luna Market much more.

    Now onto the wineries. Every winery we visited was great.

    MONDAY:
    We stopped at CUVAISON and were there much longer than anticipated, so we were unable to visit any other winery. We were only familiar with their Chardonnay, so it was nice tasting their other wines. I particularly liked their Rose, and found their dessert wine to be nice and light.

    TUESDAY:
    The day started perfectly with FAR NIENTE. What a gorgeous winery! The tour was informative and the wines were sublime, as usual. I was in heaven. We enjoyed it so much we asked them to make reservations for us at their sister winery, Nickel & Nickel.

    We had enough time for a quick stop at ELIZABETH SPENCER. The wines were delicious. My favorite was the Rose.

    We signed up for the Barrel Tasting Seminar at JOSEPH PHELPS, which was so interesting. We tasted wine made from the same grapes but stored in different types of barrels, which allowed us to taste the difference between neutral oak barrels, American oak, French oak, etc. I went in expecting to buy their Cabs but wound up preferring their Chardonnays.

    WEDNESDAY:
    First stop was the best of the entire trip: PALOMA. We met the owner, Barbara, at her home and looked out at the vineyards and hills from her back porch as we had a nice talk about her winery. We then went into her living room and tasted her wines. She only had Merlot and Syrah. The Merlot was the best Merlot I have ever tasted.

    Next was SMITH-MADRONE. And yes, I could have spent hours talking with Charles. I loved all their wines. Their Chardonnays were among the best I've had, and their Rieslings were wonderfully dry, the way I like them.

    PRIDE was next. The biggest surprise for me was their dessert wine, Mistelle de Viognier, light and not overly sweet. I also liked their Cabernet Sauvignon and their Merlot. While the wines were good, the experience was a bit more corporate than the other wineries we visited on Spring Mountain.

    After lunch, we visited SCHWEIGER and KEENAN. Both were very good.

    THURSDAY:
    CH. MONTELENA was beautiful. I thought their whites were great.

    We wound up touring NICKEL & NICKEL before leaving Napa. For me, this was the highlight of our trip. They don't usually do this, but they opened up an EN ROUTE Pinot for us to taste. En Route is another winery owned by Far Niente, but they just make Pinot Noir in Sonoma. They don't have a tasting room and there is nowhere to taste this wine, so we were very fortunate. It was clearly one of the best Pinots I've had. We also loved the Nickel & Nickel merlot and cabs.

    This was a great trip, and we enjoyed every winery we visited. I have to give a big thank you to everyone who had posted not only on this discussion but on the dozens of other discussions on this board.

    1 Reply
    1. re: brandygirl
      maria lorraine Jun 23, 2013 01:13 AM

      Wonderful report. Thank you so much writing this, and for providing specifics. So glad you enjoyed your trip!

    2. maria lorraine Jun 11, 2013 08:06 PM

      Good planning. I'd recommend that you visit Elizabeth Spencer. I love a number of their wines; and their Chenin Blanc is a wonderful solid summer wine. La Luna Market, legendary for burritos, is next door. Rutherford Grill (sit at the counter) is across the street. I'd choose either of those better options for lunch and skip Gott's, unless you're really craving an ahi burger. The commute from Far Niente is about 7 minutes.

      Try the Block K Pinot at Cuvaison. I'd schedule Schramsberg on the same day as Montelena and skip Domaine Carneros (not much there). But while in that next of the woods, I would go across the highway from Duhig Road and not miss the di Rosa Preserve. Or, do Adastra (amazing Pinot) or Truchard (on Old Sonoma Road heading into Napa -- great Pinot, Chard, Syrah). But I'd definitely skip Domaine Carneros. No shopping, really, in Napa or Yountville. St. Helena offers options there.

      5 Replies
      1. re: maria lorraine
        wolfe Jun 12, 2013 06:33 AM

        Drop ins at Dirosa may only see the Gatehouse Gallery. For a full tour reserve and please make the time, it's worth it.
        http://www.dirosaart.org/visit/genera...

        1. re: wolfe
          maria lorraine Jun 12, 2013 10:59 AM

          Thanks for that link. Brandygirl, stop in.
          Or make a res for a longer visit.

          1. re: wolfe
            b
            brandygirl Jun 12, 2013 11:49 AM

            I just checked their website. It looks wonderful, but unfortunately they are closed on Monday, the only day we would be able to visit. I'll have to add it to my list for my next visit. Thanks.

          2. re: maria lorraine
            b
            brandygirl Jun 12, 2013 11:47 AM

            Splitting a burrito at La Luna Market for lunch sounds good. Rutherford Grill was discussed and is still a possibility. My only hesitation is that back home in L.A. we have two of its sister restaurants (Houstons and Bandera) which we love, but want to try new places in Napa.

            My original thought was to do both Ch. Montelena and Schramsberg on my last day, but we only have enough time to do one. Since my sister had already toured Schramsberg, we decided on Montelena. I will skip Domaine Carneros and check out either Adastra or Truchard, as I love good Pinot.
            Thank you for your suggestions.

            1. re: brandygirl
              maria lorraine Jun 12, 2013 12:09 PM

              Check the Carneros thread here:
              chowhound.chow.com/topics/837875

          3. CarrieWas218 Jun 11, 2013 07:23 PM

            MONDAY:
            ....like to do a little shopping either in downtown Napa or Yountville before dinner at REDD.
            >>> The shopping in Yountville is limited and touristy. All the shops in downtown Napa close around 5:00 and are a bit limited, but downtown Napa is fun to walk around.

            TUESDAY:
            Breakfast: maybe driving to Boon Fly Cafe if not too far, or go to C Casa or Model Bakery at Oxbow Market. Or any other ideas?
            >>> Biscuits might be back open by then, but I am a devoted Boon Fly fan.

            12:30-1:00 if time allows, ELIZABETH SPENCER WINERY.
            Lunch: GOTT'S in St. Helena, or any better ideas?
            >>> If you eat at Gott's and are planning an early dinner, eat light! Those burgers at Gott's can fill many people too much for dinner!

            WEDNESDAY:
            We have reservations at the following wineries, each 1 hour apart:
            PALOMA
            SMITH-MADRONE
            PRIDE
            >>> Cutting your tours too tight with only an hour each - the guys at Smith-Madrone can talk forever (and I love that about them!) I would drop one, at least, and savor instead of rush.

            Lunch: picnic at Pride with supplies from either SUNSHINE FOOD or DEAN & DELUCA
            >>> I prefer the cheese counter at Sunshine but D&D has some very good (albeit expensive) pre-made dishes.

            In the afternoon, after lunch, we have reservations for:
            SCHWEIGER
            ROBERT KEENAN
            Dinner: Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen
            >>> Meh. Not my favorite. I prefer Cook or Goose & Gander.

            THURSDAY:
            Again, breakfast at our hotel unless there is somewhere in either St. Helena or Calistoga we should not miss. We plan on visiting CHATEAU MONTELENA and then driving back to Carmel.
            >>> Lunch before you leave?

            5 Replies
            1. re: CarrieWas218
              b
              brandygirl Jun 12, 2013 11:32 AM

              Thanks for your reply. If Napa Valley Biscuits is open, that would be my first choice. I'll check when we arrive. In case they are still closed, do you know how long of a drive it will be from our hotel in downtown Napa to the Boon Fly Cafe? I prefer their menu over C Casa's (although I won't be able to indulge in one of Boon Fly's Bloody Marys!).

              Thanks for the information on Gotts. I don't want a big lunch, so we may rethink this one.

              I hear you on scheduling my wine visits on Wednesday just one hour apart. I was worried about that at the time I made the reservations. We were limited in the time slots available to us when making our reservations, and I just can't bring myself to skip any of the first three wineries! Paloma and Pride are my must-visits, so I figure a shorter time with Smith-Madrone is better than no time at all. When making the reservations, I did discuss our timing, so they are aware.

              For dinner, I preferred the menu at Goose & Gander, but my sister wasn't thrilled with it, thus Cindy's Backstreet. I like the idea of Cook. I'll check that one out with her.

              On our last day, we were planning on just having breakfast before hitting Ch. Montelena, then going straight to Carmel. Any breakfast recommendations would be appreciated.
              Again, thank you.

              1. re: brandygirl
                c
                ceekskat Jun 12, 2013 12:26 PM

                Since you are staying in city of Napa, think about having dinner near your hotel on Wednesday as that is a busy schedule. Just having been out & about all day, you may want some relaxation time at hotel before dinner. Zuzu & Grace's Table are two possibilities.

                1. re: ceekskat
                  b
                  brandygirl Jun 12, 2013 12:56 PM

                  That is a good idea. When we originally reserved Redd, we were planning on staying in Yountville. Thanks

                2. re: brandygirl
                  CarrieWas218 Jun 12, 2013 01:03 PM

                  The drive from downtown Napa to Boon Fly is about 10 to 15 minutes - very doable and worthwhile (especially for the house-made doughnuts which are only two or three bites and definitely worth it!)

                  1. re: CarrieWas218
                    b
                    brandygirl Jun 12, 2013 01:36 PM

                    Sounds perfect. You talked me into it!

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