HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Mar 25, 2014 08:25 PM

3 nights in Napa (foodie trip first wine secondary)

French Laundry if we can get in for dinner one night.

We're staying at Auberge du Soleil and will eat there one of the evenings.

The following list we have selected (for breakfast lunch or dinner) please let us know what you think and what meal we should have at each place.

Farmhouse Inn
Farmstead Ranch

Also looking for biodynamic wineries (we like pinots) thinking of:

robert sinskey vineyards

frogs leap


Preston Vineyards

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. My two cents on some of the wineries you listed --

    Sinskey is definitely worth a stop, excellent pinot's and a good tasting experience as they serve a nice plate of snacks/small bites. No reseravtion needed which is nice.

    Frog's Leap is great as well, awesome tour, very fun atmosphere. Don't believe they produce a Pinot Noir but the other wines were tasty.You do need to book an appointment with them ahead of time.

    4 Replies
    1. re: jjubinvi

      Thank you! I am looking forward to going to both.

        1. re: drjlc

          My sister's family went to Ehlers with an appointment arranged by a distributor. They enjoyed it then the Ehlers folks recommended a small winery behind them, up the road -- Allora. The family loved Allora so much that they joined the wine club and we were invited to their release party last October. The property was lovely, the wine was very nice and it made the trip.

      1. I don't believe Araujo is open to the public. For really nice pinots, I suggest Failla. Tastings by appt. in small groups in a charming cottage.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ceekskat

          I will look into Failia. I'm quite crazy about PInots ;)

        2. We go twice a year, several days at a time. No experience with Farmhouse or Farmstead, I'm afraid. Others here can give you tips on those two.

          I prefer Auberge for lunch. The view is stunning on a nice day. At night you won't see anything. Of course, that's assuming there is room on the patio (only 4 tables) and it's warm enough to sit outside, LOL.

          I've eaten at Market and Redd and wouldn't go out of my way to return to either one. OK but not great. We'd rank Market over Redd; Market is very similar to Mustards in the large portion/over the top thrust, but the ingredients are good quality and what they do is better executed than Mustards, Redd, Brix, or Giovanni. Because of the large portion size you can split salads and even entrees at Market, making it a reasonable cost that's hard to find in the Napa Valley.

          Better than Market or Redd is Bottega altho their salads always seem a little tired. But the meat and pastas are very well handled at both lunch and dinner. The goat milk panna cotta is lovely. We appreciate their consistency, not easy to do when a zillion busloads of tourists are showing up every year.

          Bouchon is wonderful when "up" as is La Toque, but both suffer from erraticness and when they are "down" they are a real waste of $$$.

          Ca'Momi is more our style: didn't care for the charcuterie and their crowded tables drive us nuts, but the sweetbreads, oxtail, and baccala were divine, as well as those lovely pastries.

          I've had people here diss me for recommending Etoile @Domaine Chandon, but we loved it during a lunch last year. If you can't get into TFL and don't want to risk Meadowood, you could try Etoile. That has been the best meal we've had since La Bourgogne/SF closed thirty years ago...but then, we're suckers for French food, even over Italian (smile).

          Hope the weather is good when you go, since you didn't mention when you're coming. Be aware that the winds can be very cool indeed, even gusty and chilly, all the way through mid-May, even on a beautiful sunny day. Layer, layer, layer - that's our mantra in Northern CA!

          5 Replies
          1. re: jaiko

            We will be there in August.

            Good call regarding Auberge for lunch. Done.

            I am still intrigued by Market as it has such consistently high reviews.

            Bouchon is good. Went there last trip so won't need to go back.

            I will look into Etoile as well. Thank you for that recommendation and your time!

            1. re: drjlc

              Okay, something to keep in mind...

              August is five months away and in the Bay Area, *TONS* can happen in the restaurant industry - namely, chef movement and whatnot - so don't chisel your restaurants in stone right now.

              Torc just opened and is getting mixed reviews. Over the years, I have both loved and hated Brix. Same with Bouchon.

              Get a framework now, but come back to this thread in July to firm things up.

              1. re: CarrieWas218

                I agree. I plan on keeping my plans open until I can confirm with French Laundry in June.

            2. re: jaiko

              I wouldn't diss a rec for Etoile. We, too, had a great lunch there last year. We like Redd better, it would seem. Our experience at Bottega last year though, service-wise, was awful. Almost two hours, two courses, no offer for dessert/coffee/dessert wine. Mentioned issue on way out and they didn't seem to care.

              Sinskey is a very sold choice for a visit.

              1. re: HoosierFoodie

                Good to know about Bottega. We haven't been back in over 18 months so things definitely do change!

                We had just heard so much about Redd, but our meal was very poor there. The risotto had so much fake black truffle oil that over 10 minutes after I finished it, I realized I could still taste it in my mouth...and it wasn't pleasant. The chanterelles in the risotto were tasteless, unlike the chanterelles Etoile served the very next day.

                The pork belly was way too sweet for us. Even my spouse, who has a super sweet tooth, admitted the caramel belonged in very tiny quantities over a very large bowl of white rice. The pork was thin-sliced and griddled into chewy bacon, which is not how I like my pork belly.

                Spouse's leek soup was over the top rich, and that's saying something from people who stock their frig with Irish butter and super-heavy organic whipping cream on a weekly basis. We love rich food, but there is a point over which it obscures flavors, and Redd went over that line.

                It was topped by our very nice waitress saying to me, in all earnestness, "Oh, all our cheese are semi-soft - except for the ones that are harder!" Since she was able to describe all the available cheeses accurately (even the hard cheeses, LOL), she had clearly tried them. But that line just capped a meal in which every dish was off-balance to our taste.

                I'm willing to believe that it could have been that particular day for the kitchen to be "off". It really wouldn't have taken much for each of those dishes to be wonderful. But there's so many restaurants in the Bay Area to try, as we all know a new place only has one chance to impress. Redd flubbed three of three dishes, so we went on to the 'next on the list', so to speak.

                NOTE to OP: August is a particularly harrowing month in Napa. It's the biggest influx of tourists and our experience has been that even weekdays are crowded. Weekends are snarl-inducing messes. Travel time between places is definitely longer than off season (mid-Oct to mid-May).

                The service tends to suffer as well because there are a lot of waitstaff hired only for the high season. The stress of the crowds means they really don't have a lot of time to chat.

                I'm not saying you won't have a good experience, just that you need to be aware of what you're going to be facing. Napa is an entirely different place in the off-season, compared to July/August.

                And you don't need to worry as much about layers, because it's probably going to be hot. Nights cool down to pleasant, though.

            3. Farmstead is a terrific choice. I was just there for lunch a couple weeks ago. Sitting outside on a nice day is heavenly. The wines at Sinskey are delicious and it's a great place to do a tasting, and they have a nice selection of bites to go with the wines.

              1 Reply
              1. re: farmersdaughter

                good to know regarding Farmstead and SInskey. Love further confirmation that we are on the right track. :)

              2. Farmhouse Inn (while supposedly lovely, I haven't been) is not in Napa. It is in Sonoma County, west of Healdsburg. That is a significant distance to drive.