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Early stages of planning Napa trip?

Husband and I are making 1st Napa trip (from Mississippi) Sept. 30 to Oct 5th. I have learned that Napa is harder to plan than the family Disney World trip (if you done this you know that can be crazy). Have a list would love any input. I'm having trouble with what time and what winery to do in a day. Also still a little lost on restaurants for dinner and lunches. Would like at least one day to picnic, need best spots for this. Here is what I have so far:
Coming into Sanfran 9/30 staying in Mill Valley to hike Muir wood Forest.
10/1 Start early to Petaluma (just to see) then to Sonoma - Lunch LaSalette or The Girl & The Fig
On to Napa via Trinity Rd Far Niente res @ 3:00
staying in Napa city at Andaz
from there just a list of ideas could use help
restaurants:
Dinners
Grace's Table
Redd
Angele
? want to stay close to Napa for dinner

Lunches
Picnic one or two days (best place to get picnic DD or ?)
a lunch spot near Schramsberg ?
any other lunch ideas

wineries
Far Niente
Schramsberg
Frogs Leap
Rombauer
Artesa
Rutherford Hill (because I have been told get picnic spot but open to other ideas)
Pride
Duckhorn
Truchard
Etude
Plumpjack
Cakebread

Sorry so long any help very welcome.
Thank you

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  1. Hi, Missy! Have you looked at any of the many similar threads?

    For choosing wineries, it helps to know what kinds of wines you like and what your level of wine experience is. Unless you want to get into the nitty-gritty of wine-making, I think once you're toured one large, one small and one sparkling winery, you've pretty much seen it all.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      I have read so many threads my head hurts. My husband and I have very little knowledge of wines besides we like to drink it. I drink more whites (chards and right now into sparkling) but love a good pinot noir. My husband has just started drinking chards and loves pinot noir cabs and merlots. We would love to learn some more about wine and wine making but we are not going trying to be sommeliers in the near future. Just want to have a great trip my pre 40th bday!

      1. re: missy1974

        Not knowing a lot about wine and the geography of Napa either, I can understand the headache! As a total wine dullard, I found the Schramsberg tour awesome and the wines great to boot:

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8411...

        BTW, once you pull together a list of wineries/activities, try saving things on a google map to plan your itinerary with respect to geographical limitations.

        BTW2, along the lines of what thsoe above said, don't try to cram too much in. Especially since alcohol is involved, you don't want your fun times to blur together!

    2. I'll just start with your October 1 day...

      Going to Petaluma just to look around, then having lunch in Sonoma while wanting to end up in Napa for a 3:00 appointment is really rushing things and compacting way too much in one day.

      For starters, what is in Petaluma you want to see? That could be a whole day by itself. As is the Sonoma square, where you want to have lunch.

      From Muir Woods to a 3:00 Napa appointment, I would suggest you forget about Petaluma - it is a bit out of the way and will require a lot more driving. Head straight to Sonoma where you can enjoy some pre-lunch bubbly at Gloria Ferrer. Then lunch (I would suggest La Salette) before heading to Far Niente.

      After you have checked into your hotel, wander downtown Napa and consider dinner at Grace's Table or wander the Oxbow market for lighter eats. Redd is fabulous, but a lot heavier than you might want after a big lunch. Save it for another day - but definitely go.

      13 Replies
      1. re: CarrieWas218

        Thanks Carrie! I was wondering if Petaluma was pushing it. I think I'll cut Petaluma, I'll look into Gloria Ferrer and Grace's Table is on my list.
        recovering from surgery (to much P90X will tear your hip labrum) so I've because a Napa researching fool. I worked on this today any input would be great.

        1 day in Napa
        Breakfast Model Bakery
        Pride 10 am
        Solbar 12:30
        Schramsberg 2:30
        Rombauer no appt needed
        Afternoon free to see St Helena (CIA, woodhouse choc, St Helena Olive oil)
        Dinner ?

        day 2 Napa
        Breakfast Napa General Store
        Etude 10 tasting no appt
        Artesa 11:00 tour
        Lunch Boon Fly Cafe
        Truchard 2:00
        Afternoon free to site see
        Dinner ?

        Day 3 Napa
        Breakfast ?
        Frog's Leap 10:30
        Rutherford Picnic tour @ 1:30 (what do you think)
        Plumpjack
        Cakebread 3:00
        Site seeing
        Dinner ?

        Any feedback will be much welcomed
        Thanks

        1. re: missy1974

          missy,

          Thanks for the more detailed itinerary for comments. Seems like you've done your homework.

          Comments:

          Dinners near the Andaz after big days of tasting and driving. Suggest dinners on foot, e.g.,:

          Oenotri: across the street from your hotel. Fun, lively Italian
          Grace's Table: friendly local
          Cole's: steak
          Morimoto: top chef Japanese. Excellent with late night options
          Hog Island: oysters etc
          Angele: French accented bistro
          Le Toque: more formal French
          Bounty Hunter: BBQ ribs and chicken with lush wine selection
          Gott's Roadside: consider the rare ahi burger

          day 2

          If you have any art leanings, consider the magnificent collection at Hess. A gem very near your winery selections for that day.

          Day 3

          Try C Casa at Oxbow Market for terrific breakfast tacos.

          Have fun!

          1. re: cortez

            Thanks Cortez I will look into all of these!

          2. re: missy1974

            Sightseeing not site seeing I guess I should read my post before posting HA

            1. re: missy1974

              Schramsberg is not on the same side of Spring Mountain as Pride so your itinerary makes more sense than many who want to go up and down the mountain - but if I may suggest.

              Pride is beautiful, and they have beautiful picnic tables all over the property (some great ones (that everyone loves) that look over the valley- and others with no view but among the ruins of an old winery which are nice).

              I'd wine taste at Pride, do an early brunch at their picnic tables. Depending on how much you like to plan. I'd either make an appointment at noon for another winery on the Pride side (Keenan, Smith Madrone Terra Valentine, Trespass (which is at the bottom of the mountain on the Pride side). Or play it by ear and ask Pride if they can call and find you a place to taste after the picnic.

              -----

              I would replace one of these:

              Rutherford
              Plumpjack
              Cakebread

              These are all kind of generic Napa valley - not in a bad way - just they all have the same reputation and will probably offer similar-ish experiences and similar wines.

              Paraduxx does some interesting blends and doesn't require an appointment. I am partial to Corison (does require an appointment) they don't have much in the way of grounds - but they are great hosts and I enjoy their wines.

              1. re: goldangl95

                Thanks I want to do pride at 10 and then go to Solbar for lunch Really want to eat at Solbar being that I'm 3 hrs from Nola and love August. So after Solbar was going to do Schramsberg Is that doable? Out of the 3 what one would you replace?

                1. re: missy1974

                  Your timing is fine - you can do all three. Give yourself an hour to get down from Pride to start eating at Solbar and 30 mins to get from Solbar to Schramsberg. That gives you an hour and a half for lunch at Solbar which sounds about right.

                  It's just a hassle (though absolutely gorgeous and if you like huge big reds that need to be aged - they have great wines) getting up that mountain to Pride and down again - so thought you might want to linger that side a bit.

                  1. re: goldangl95

                    Do you have another winery in the area that's good so we could avoid the hassle of driving up to Pride? What do you think of Solbar?

                    1. re: missy1974

                      Missy,

                      As mentioned, Solbar is well worth it, either outside looking at the 50 meter pool or inside for the coolness on a hot day.

                      Close to Solbar is Chateau Montelena in Calistoga. Historical property. It makes an easy trio with Schramsburg and Solbar.

                      Agree that Pride is terrific IF you dedicate half a day of driving, picnic, tour and tasting to it. If that is an excessive investment for this trip, skip it this time.

                      1. re: missy1974

                        Trespass is great (make an appointment) and in the area - but they exclusively do reds. Last time I was there they didn't have a bathroom - that may have changed. But they are among the vines and there is a bocce ball court. Wines are of really good quality too.

                        Chateau Montelena has a good white portfolio - they are pretty big winery - the grounds are beautiful.

                        1. re: goldangl95

                          This is just a general question about the wineries. If you go to a winery and just do a tasting will they let you walk around the grounds? For example Chateau Montelena the grounds look beautiful do we need to do a tour to be able to see them?
                          Thanks

                          1. re: missy1974

                            So, at the large wineries without an appointment, they usually have a long tasting bar or two inside.

                            When it's slow, the pourers are friendly and hospitable but vary in wine education (some will be a wealth of information, some will have as much expertise as you after you read their website).

                            When it's crowded, you sidle up to the bar get your wine pour - and try to meet the servers eye (kind of like a regular bar).

                            No matter what you can wander around the outside grounds at will. If they are nice/slow/depending on the winery you can wander around the winery with your pours. Others ask you finish the tasting before wandering around.

                            If you want an in depth knowledgeable host, without a crowd, who can take you through the facility and depending on the tour try to get wines not on the normal list - take a tour.

                            Unless you need all that, just showing up is perfectly fine and is what I normally do.

                            1. re: missy1974

                              To your specific question above, missy: Yes Montelena does have exceptional grounds, lake with island and gazebo etc., but it was already besieged by tourists ("there aren't many spots like this in the valley, and everyone wants to picnic here") 30 years ago, before most of the corporate investment, restaurants, etc that have since created the current Napa scene.

                              That quotation was from a friend working at Montelena at the time, 1983, who did in fact organize a weekend picnic at the sacred gazebo; but it did feel a little strange there, seeing groups of other visitors, not just winery customers but evidently folks just wanting to picnic, hanging out in less grand settings at the fringes of the built-up grounds, kept back by No-Admittance signs, staring at us in the gazebo. It suggested a scene from France, shortly before the revolution ...

              2. Revised Napa Trip I know you guys are sick of me but need help
                Leave Mill Valley drive to Sonoma
                Gloria Ferrer
                Lunch LaSalette
                Take Trinity Rd to
                Far Niente 3:00 appt
                Staying in Napa Andaz
                Dinner Grace's Table (Cant tell from web does they take res.)

                Day 2
                Breakfast Napa General Store
                Chateau Montelena Maybe tour or tasting (want to wander the grounds for awhile)
                Lunch Solbar 12:00
                Schramsberg 2:30
                Rombauer no appt needed
                Dinner ?

                Day 3
                Breakfast Model Bakery or Napa Biscuits (are they open?)
                Artesa 10:30 tour
                Lunch Boon Fly Cafe 12:00
                Truchard 1:30
                Hess no appt needed
                (would love to do Etude but don't know if we can fit it)
                Dinner Redd 8:00

                Day 4
                Breakfast C Casa
                Frog's Leaf 10:30
                This is where I need help we want to do a picnic (Rutherford?)
                Plumpjack, Cakebread, Quintessa, Duckhorn (which ones should we do?)
                Want afternoon to sight see in St Helena
                Dinner ?

                Thanks any input would be loved
                Melissa

                38 Replies
                1. re: missy1974

                  For your days 2 and 4 dinners, I'd rest in Napa. Oenotri and Morimoto would be my personal choices.

                  For the picnic, Oakville Grocery or Dean or Dean & DeLuca are probably the best purveyors. The little park on Main St in St Helena would put you in the best position for your afternoon sightseeing there. Have your lunch there near the mini bandstand. It's just north of the post office and French Blue restaurant. During your stroll on Main St., check out the superb chocolates at Woodhouse. The salted caramels are fantastic.

                  For your final tasting that day, I'd go with Quintessa. Why? It's a gorgeous minimalist space where the reserved tour includes a dip into the vineyard. Also, most of your tastings involve wines in the $25-50 range. Quintessa offers a superb Bordeaux blend at $150+ per bottle. You get to taste it with no need to buy one. But, it will end your tasting adventure on a high note and perhaps entice you towards high end wine tasting for your next visit!

                  Have fun.

                  1. re: cortez

                    I disagree with Cortez on Quintessa. Yes, it is a beautiful, minimalist space but the wines are over-wrought with alcohol.

                    Melissa, from your list (Plumpjack, Cakebread, Quintessa, Duckhorn), they are all so similar in what they offer and their quality as to be mostly a six-and-one-half dozen choice.

                    Personally, I would forget all of them and head to Duckhorn's sister company, Paraduxx. Duckhorn provides the classic Cabs and Bordeaux blends (which are fabulous), but the Paraduxx offers more interesting blends and more accessible options.

                    For your Day 2, since you will be up near Calistoga and Rombauer, I would suggest you stick to up-valley and eat at Goose & Gander or Cook. That would also be a great time to wander St. Helena, leaving Day 4 for exploring downtown Napa.

                    Yes, Napa Valley Biscuits is back open and I would suggest them over the General Story. (Frankly, I find the General Store exceptionally mediocre in everything they do and would scratch them off your list). I would also suggest Boon Fly for breakfast over lunch, but that is only because they make such amazing doughnuts. For lunch, their salmon flatbread is stunning.

                    1. re: CarrieWas218

                      Carrie

                      I must agree to disagree. Quintessa blend is 14.6% alc, quite routine for a top Cab. Inderdtand that your oreference is not this. But, tour, tasting, architecture and experience at Q are superior to Parradux. I've taken guests to both and the Q package wins out everytime.

                      1. re: cortez

                        Well, heck, Q has things going for it, things not going for it.
                        As does Paraduxx.

                        Q is for established Cab lovers, mainly. Their 2008 is miraculous: a silky smooth perfectly integrated wine that does not at all taste like high-alcohol. I've had it many times. I think it may be the prettiest Cab they've ever produced. I like the Illumination Sauvignon Blanc blend but don't seek it out.

                        Paraduxx is friendly, relaxing, and their blends are not usually found in Napa Valley. But not overwhelmingly good.

                        Which brings up a point: I think recommendations for wineries are best when based on interest and familiarity with tasting wine, and current likes/dislikes.

                        In my book, neither Quintessa or Paraduxx are huge draw, and there are plenty of other wineries I'd recommend before either of those. Unless, like in the case of Q, you love their Cabs and wish to seek out their 2008.

                        1. re: maria lorraine

                          Carrie and Maria,
                          What would be 2 or 3 of your favorite wineries in the Oakville, Rutherford and St Helena area? We are doing Frog's Leap at 10:30 this morning and would like to picnic at our next stop.
                          thanks

                          1. re: missy1974

                            I like Elizabeth Daniels for the demonstration of "Rutherford dust," but St. Supery for the art and experience. I like Nickel & Nickel for their vast diversity in vineyard-specific wines and Tres Sabores for the intimacy and moxie of the owner. I like Del Dotto for the cave experience and Far Niente for the car collection and setting (and Dolce). I love Hall for their art, but not much else and Mumm for the view. I like Sinskey for the food pairing and Corison, Duckhorn, and Paraduxx for wines.

                            1. re: CarrieWas218

                              Thank you Carrie this is what I needed. I will look into these. We do have res. at Far Niente for the day we drive in. We like the car collection my husband has a dealership so that caught his eye.

                              1. re: missy1974

                                The wines are beautiful at FN, and it's a classy, beautiful place.

                                I think Carrie might be referring to Elizabeth Spencer, and I second that recommendation.

                                The best recommendations I can make are based on what kind of wines you like, so if you could tell me a bit about what you like and dislike (varietals, styles), I can dial something in a bit better. I don't want to recommend heavy Cabernet houses if you don't really like that kind of wine (but it is the dominant wine in Napa Valley).

                                  1. re: CarrieWas218

                                    Carrie
                                    If you had to pick one would it be Bistro Jeanty or Angele? Also having trouble with other dinners. I have Grace's Table, Zuzu, Oenotri, either (Bistro Jeanty or Angele) What do you think about these? Would you change any and to what?
                                    Thanks Missy

                                    1. re: missy1974

                                      Missy,

                                      Big shakeup at Oenotri. You may want to steer clear for the time being.

                                      http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/...

                                      1. re: missy1974

                                        Gosh - the menus are so entirely different between BJ and Angele... I love Jeanty for its classic French; the tomato soup is incomparable and so much on the menu provides so much comfort to me. Angele is a bit more CalFrench and wine country fusion...

                                        Considering the Oenetri news, I would steer clear for a while.

                                        Are you set for only being in downtown Napa? My clear favorites in the valley include driving up-valley and would heartily recommend:
                                        JoLe - Calistoga
                                        Terra - St. Helena
                                        Goose & Gander - St. Helena
                                        Redd - Yountville

                                        Also, Bistro Don Giovanni is probably the best Cal-Italian since Oenetri is questionable!

                                        1. re: CarrieWas218

                                          Don't mind a short drive. I think we will change our Oenetri and Brix res. (is it a bad idea to drive form Napa to St. Helena for dinner if drinking?) We have res at Solbar for lunch should we change to JoLe?
                                          thanks

                                          1. re: missy1974

                                            I prefer JoLe to Solbar, but just barely. They are both exceptional.

                                            Many people drive to St. Helena for dinner, but do be careful about driving. They often set up sobriety check-points for that very reason.

                                            The other downtown restaurant you might want to consider is Tarla. It is Turkish-fusion and quite good, but has never quite blown me away.

                                            If you want lighter fare that is exceptional, consider Bistro Sabor or the Bounty Hunter.

                                            And, as much as Oenetri got great reviews in the past, for purely pizza, I preferred Ca Momi in Oxbow or Pizza Azzuro.

                                            The ones in downtown Napa to definitely avoid are:
                                            - Celadon
                                            - The Thomas
                                            - The Pear
                                            - Fish Story

                                            1. re: CarrieWas218

                                              Thanks I am going to change our Oenetri and Brix res. Do you if Truchard allows you to picnic on their grounds?

                                              1. re: missy1974

                                                Yes, Truchard is one of the few that allow picnics...

                                                1. re: CarrieWas218

                                                  Thanks I love chowhound its 100 times better than buying a guide book

                                              2. re: missy1974

                                                << (is it a bad idea to drive form Napa to St. Helena for dinner if drinking?) >>

                                                The drive itself is easy, a straight shot down Highway 29 or Silverado Trail to Napa.

                                                Many tourists visit this valley, have dinner in St. Helena, and then easily drive to Napa for their hotel. This is a valley based on tourism, and the police seem more interested in ferreting out stupidity in drinking than in policing those who've had a couple glasses of wine with dinner.

                                                That being said, you do want to be watchful about drinking and driving, and especially about over-consumption -- safety is the issue.

                                                Sobriety checkpoints don't occur all that often, and they often are announced prior to being set up, but you never want to be caught in one if you haven't been careful.

                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                  thanks
                                                  What are your favorite restaurants in Napa or Yountville?

                                                  1. re: missy1974

                                                    My posts prior to this thread really go into my favorites, and unfortunately, I'm/we're not current on the current crop of new restaurants. This summer, especially, we've been focusing on purchasing great raw ingredients and cooking superb gourmet meals at home, so we're not dining out much.

                                                    Just off the top of my head... Casual: Luna Market for burritos, Pizzeria Tra Vigne for piadine (nothing else), Press for Kobe burgers, spinach and mac 'n' cheese. Fine dining: Don Giovanni, Terra, Meadowood, Redd, Boonfly.

                                                    Do one picnic a day: Sunshine Market, Oakville Grocery and Dean & Deluca for gourmet picnic supplies upvalley; Oxbow (Fatted Calf, baguettes from Model Bakery, etc.), and Vallergas for supplies downvalley.

                                                    Eat a good breakfast on wine-tasting days. Keep drinking water all day.

                                                    Don't forget about art and wine at the Hess Collection, or Ansel Adams photos and bubbles at Mumm.

                                                    Plan your tastings and dining geographically. Cluster together wineries in St. Helena, or St. Helena and Calistoga, or Spring Mountain and St. Helena. Likewise, for Rutherford and Oakville. Napa and Carneros.

                                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                                      Thanks great information we are planning on going to Hess.
                                                      We are also looking at or already have a res. for Gloria Ferrer, Far Niente, Chateau Montelena Schramsberg, Rombauer, Artesa, Truchard, Frog's Leap, Plumpjack and Cakebread. Any thoughts on those? Would take away or add something?
                                                      Thanks Melissa

                                                      1. re: missy1974

                                                        Melissa, how many days for all these rezzies?

                                                        Honestly, they are all pretty pedestrian and "standard" choices.

                                                        Gloria Ferrer is my least favorite sparkling of all in the valley. You've got Schramsberg and I think Gloria Ferrer will be a let-down for you after you've had the best.

                                                        Far Niente is fun for the setting and cars, but I find their wine too over-extracted (although the Dolce is amazing).

                                                        Rombauer is a classic California chard which I can't abide, although I know a lot of people who love it.

                                                        Artesa is great for the architecture, art, and setting. Intensely mediocre wine. I take people there to wander around and advise them against even bothering to taste...

                                                        Truchard is lovely.

                                                        Frog's Leap, Plumpjack, and Cakebread are almost cookie cutter copies of each other in experience and wine.

                                                        I adore Hess for the art. Seriously - the Andrew Goldsworthy they have installed brought me to tears.

                                                        What are you looking for in wines? I would recommend going a bit off the beat-and-track and head to the mountains; Spring Mountain or Howell Mountain has some *amazing* wineries including Pride, Smith-Madrone, Lamborn, and Outpost.

                                                        1. re: CarrieWas218

                                                          Going though Sonoma on way to Napa. We were going to stop for lunch at LaSalette and wanted to do one winery or maybe sparkling on way. If you don't like Gloria Ferrer what would do in that area?

                                                          1. re: missy1974

                                                            <<Going though Sonoma on way to Napa. We were going to stop for lunch at LaSalette and wanted to do one winery or maybe sparkling on way. If you don't like Gloria Ferrer what would do in that area?>>

                                                            I'd take a look at whether or not you have time to stop at a tasting room after Muir Woods and before FN, given what else you've planned.

                                                            For example: Petaluma to Sonoma (45 minute drive, then some time in Petaluma??) and then eating lunch at La Salette (75 minutes). Why not use any extra time to explore the picturesque square in the city of Sonoma? I wouldn't plan another winery visit; I'd take advantage of where you'll be for lunch anyway. I'd wander around the square, and if you must do some wine-tasting, then try Sonoma Enoteca or La Salette itself.

                                                            BTW, I take Trinity Road over the mountain every week, and it will take an hour for a newbie. You cannot rush that road a bit -- not only because it's super-twisty, and you have to be very careful, but also because it's beautiful. Watch your alcohol intake before that drive -- you have to be alert.

                                                            Figure 75 minutes for getting from La Salette to Far Niente via Trinity Road, then walking into the winery and getting registered ahead of time for your tour -- that will take another 15 minutes. Be sure you're there on time, or better, a bit ahead of your tour time to look around -- FN is stunning. Wander into the car collection, go down by the beautiful lake. The grounds are phenomenal.

                                                            ETA: This is helpful thread with lots of suggestions on the Carneros, the neck of the woods where Truchard and Artesa are:
                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/837875

                                                          2. re: CarrieWas218

                                                            Also was going to do Pride but didn't know if it was to far to drive. How long does it take to get to pride form the turn off 29?

                                                          3. re: missy1974

                                                            I'm fond of Far Niente (I love their wines, and find them to be in balance), Chateau Montelena (yes, you can stroll the grounds/lagoon/wildlife area), Schramsberg (truly something special), Truchard (more of that winery below) and Frog's Leap (very fun, good all-around, and beautiful grounds).

                                                            I'm not so fond of Cakebread, Plumpjack or Rombauer. Those wines don't appeal to my palate.

                                                            But *you* may love the wines from those wineries, and it's fine if you do. Both wines and people come in a wide variety of styles.

                                                            Artesa is a stunning building (actually you can only see part of it above ground, since most of it is bermed into the hill), and that winery is producing OK wine. I recently had their Chard with very good aromatics, and their Pinot Noir, fine but nothing terribly special.

                                                            That's in contrast to Truchard Winery, just a hop down the road, and the wonderful things they do with the same grapes, Chard and Pinot Noir. Very gracious people, too.

                                                            Just five minutes from Artesa, and ten minutes from Truchard, though, is the Di Rosa Preserve, and that is definitely worth a stop. And lunch at Boonfly, also in that vicinity, is great.

                                                            Lots of posts and threads on this stuff that have already been written -- if you'd care to check.

                                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                                              I have res. at Schramsberg at 2:30 was going from there to Rombauer. If I cut Rombauer where would you go? Would love to fit Pride in but don't think I have time from a 2:30 at Sch to make it to Pride by 3:45.

                                                              Also the next day going to Frog's Leap at 10:30 was doing Plumpjack and Cakebread this day but these are not well reviewed what would be good after Frog's Leap?
                                                              Thanks for any help. It seems I may need to plan our 2nd trip before we finish our lst. Napa has to much we want to see

                            2. re: missy1974

                              Dear Missy...we aren't sick of you at all. You needn't be bashful, as the posters on this board love to help people have a good time in wine country. And, it looks like you are definitely going to have a good time.
                              On day 1, you want to take Trinity Rd over to Napa Valley, despite the fact that you are starting out in the town of Sonoma (good call, by the way, on La Salette). I wouldn't do that , unless you have some specific reason to do it. It is an extremely winding and twisting road, and whoever is driving isn't going to be doing any sightseeing at all. On a separate post, Soupcon used the words "arduous" and "carsick" in explaining this drive to you. There is a reason for that. Instead, when you leave the restaurant, take Broadway south. At the intersection of Levoroni/Napa Rd. (it's Lavoroni to the west, it's Napa Rd to the east, but the same road), turn east and go all the way to Hwy12/121. This is a "T" intersection and you will turn left. Take Hwy 12/121 to Hwy 29 and turn left. Hwy 29 is the main north/south drag thru Napa Valley.You will follow 29 north to Far Niente.
                              I see that you need a picnic lunch, so let me suggest La Luna Market and Taqueria to you. It's a grocery store with a taqueria inside. You can get very good burritos and tacos, so if you like Mexican food, it might be for you. There are tables right outside the front door. I ate there last week and enjoyed the food, and the atmosphere. There were a lot of vineyard workers in and out of the store. It is located about one block east of Hwy 29 and Rutherford Rd. You can't miss it because BV Winery is on the corner of Rutherford and Hwy 29.
                              You guys enjoy yourselves.

                              1. re: pinotho

                                Missy, you mentioned Model Bakery and C Casa, so I know you are tuned into Oxbow Market. Ritual Coffee Roasters inside Oxbow has some truly wonderful coffees and expressos. Enjoy.

                                1. re: pinotho

                                  Thanks pinotho I have heard great things on La Luna and will check it out!

                                  1. re: pinotho

                                    I agree about not being sick of you, Missy! Here's a tip for everyone who posts requests on this board (even though the kind of people who need this tip aren't reading this far down this thread): you get the best advice if your engage in the process. If I ask a question (as I did in the first reply to this thread) and don't get a response (or there aren't any other follow-ups from the original poster), I don't respond again to that thread. I suspect I am not alone. There are too many "hit-and-run" posters to waste my time with them. Chowhound is best when it's a discussion, not just generic questions provoking generic answers!

                                    Just don't forget to report back!

                                  2. re: missy1974

                                    I can't comment on the wine but I can comment on the food. I've eaten at the girl & the fig in Sonoma and thought it was incredible. I would definitely recommend it if you have the time for lunch.

                                    The Oxbow Market is fabulous with Hog Island Oyster Company, Ca' Momi, The Cheese Merchant and many others. When my husband and I are in the area, we love to go there and try something new.

                                    There is also a nice place near downtown Napa called Carpe Diem Wine Bar. They have wonderful happy hour deals on drinks as well as food and a regular menu that brings us back when we can. They don't open until 4pm so it's a great spot for the evenings and I do think they take reservations. You can find them on Yelp and online.

                                    I did a gourmet walking food tour of Napa recently and we had tastings from several of the merchants in/around Oxbow including the Model Bakery, C Casa, The Cheese Merchant (which also has a small bar with wine and craft beer) and The Fatted Calf. We enjoyed everything we tried. Good people watching too.

                                    Hope you enjoy your trip to Napa. It's a beautiful area. Especially the drive along the Silverado Trail. It's a great way to drive up to Calistoga, where as Hwy 29 gets VERY busy. Plus many of the wineries are off the Silverado Trail along with roads that run east/west to each of the towns. Hope you'll check that drive out! That's where I snapped this photo!

                                     
                                    1. re: spammie5

                                      I really wanted to love Carpe Diem but their menu and offerings have been so wildly inconsistent over the years.

                                      I had an amazing meal with a girlfriend that included salmon skewers perfect for sharing so, two weeks later, I brought my fiance and the skewers were significantly smaller and horribly over-cooked. The portion sizes on all their items changes all the time (except the flatbreads which stay the same size).

                                      It seems the owner/manager is more interested in flirting with the young girls that show up at the bar for bachelorette partying than he is watching the kitchen.

                                      1. re: CarrieWas218

                                        Interesting Carrie...My husband and I have been twice very recently and had a great experience both times. Granted, we were there during happy hour - maybe that makes a difference. We like to share small plates and so we tried the truffle popcorn, the harissa fries, the quack 'n' cheese on one visit and a cheese board, flatbread and shared the ostrich burger on our second visit. The burger was absolutely incredible. We'll keep going back but I'll keep your review in mind!

                                  3. We discovered Sunshine Market on our last trip to the Napa Valley. I thought they had nice provisions to stock a picnic basket.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: KatoK

                                      Sunshine Foods (in St. Helena) is great. Less expensive, less frou-frou than Dean & Deluca/Oakville, but a great selection, especially cheese.

                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                        Agree that Sunshine is terrific and very convenient for your itinerary. Some (possibly excessive) details of strengths:

                                        Sunshine: great bread, cheese and wine selection
                                        D&D: best for salami, prosciutto and prepared foods/salads
                                        Oakville: best for sandwiches

                                        Take your pick!

                                        1. re: cortez

                                          Sunshine Market has a fantastic cheese selection, all sorts of prepared foods, a huge variety of San Francisco Bay Area breads and gourmet crackers, enormous selection of cold drinks, soups, salads, olive bar, lots of different fresh fruit like melons already cut up, prepared entrees, friendly service, neighborhood store on Main Street St. Helena.

                                      2. re: KatoK

                                        Great suggestion. OP keep in mind the traffic through St. Helena gets overwhelming during peak times.