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Need recs on wineries to visit in Napa Valley for 11 people in 2 weeks!!

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Hi all,

I need advise on what wineries to go on July 26 (Saturday). I know it's coming up soon!

We will be coming from Calistoga and will be available from 9:30am-3:00pm so I am thinking 2 wineries + 1 picnic lunch at a winery.

Some of the ladies in our group would like to go to Castello di Amorosa. Personally I don't want to go there, I think it is too touristy.

I would like to start with bubblies/white wine -> pick up boxed lunch (need suggestion on this as well) -> picnic lunch at a winery -> Castello di Amorosa (just because it is in Calistoga) for our last stop.

I did some research and I think these are good:
1) Mumm
2) Quintessa
3) Shafer
4) Far Niente
5) Hess
6) Rombauer
7) Frog's Leap
8) Pride - unfortunately they are already booked :(

Thank you!!

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  1. Yikes. You might be screwed on reservations for that many on such short notice during the height of tourist season. (I'm 4th generation Napa native). Clos du Val has great picnic benches that you don't have to reserve, as does Rutherford Hill Winery. Both are situated mid-valley, about 15 minutes from Calistoga. Castello de Amorosa is a giant/touristy ripoff. You could get excellent deli sandwiches and accoutrements at Sunshine Market in Calistoga, just call ahead your order in the morning. Otherwise you're stuck with pretentious/expensive/not that great Dean and Deluca in St. Helena. Mumm is good, but way down valley, almost in Napa so you can't start there. Quintessa is good, Shafer wines are excellent. Far Niente requires reservations and is quite boring. Hess is tucked away up on a giant hillside in the town of Napa, not easy to get to and not anywhere near highway 29 or Silverado Trail. Rombauer is good and pretty. Frog's Leap is delicious, cute and friendly. In my opinion, the wineries on Silverado Trail are better and more genuine. Highway 29 attracts the rubes from the Midwest who like the white zin at Sutter Home and Disneyfication of wine such as Mondavi. Have fun!

    1 Reply
    1. re: JKMillerInc

      Hmmm. I agree that you will absolutely have to make reservations for your winery visits, and that it may be difficult to do that for a large group on a weekend during the tourist season with such short notice.

      I disagree with other things. I've lived here 25 years.

      First, Sunshine Market is in St. Helena, not Calistoga.
      But it IS a good place to get a picnic lunch if you want to. You will have to pre-order so that you can pick up the lunches on Saturday morning.

      Dean & DeLuca do a good job on deli food and picnic lunches, though I still much prefer Sunshine Market and Oakville Grocery.

      I agree that Castello di Amarosa is a giant ripoff, but disagree about Far Niente. It's possibly the most beautiful winery in the US, and the wines are top-flight. But it is $40 per person (or thereabouts) and that may be more than you want to spend, even if you can get in (doubtful).

      Mumm, for sparkling wine, is a great idea. But its not near the city of Napa. It is in Rutherford.

      Agree that Quintessa is good and that Shafer is excellent, but these are Cabernet-centric wineries and for Cabernet aficionados, which your group may not be. Reservations for your group may be difficult to come by at these wineries with such a short lead time.

      Hess Collection is a stunning art museum and high, high up in the western hills. The drive may be too long for your group, if you can get a reservation.

      Rombauer makes a particular type of wine that is good for those beginning to learn about wine.

      Frog's Leap is beautiful and fun, and makes delicious wines.

      I don't believe Highway 29 attracts the rubes of the Midwest. After all, even "rubes" seek out Napa Valley to learn about and enjoy wine, and everyone has to start somewhere. Not everyone is lucky to have the exposure to wine or Napa Valley or other wine country that some of us have had. Today's beginner is a future expert.

    2. My favorite picnic lunch is from addendum behind ad hoc.
      http://www.adhocrestaurant.com/addendum/

      1. Thanks for all the recommendation. Yeah, I'm screwed on getting reservations at these wineries. I am actually working with a wine tour company and apparently they "forgot" to get in touch with me in terms of making the itinerary :( they apologized and just acted on it this morning. They were able to make reservations at Frank Family Winery and Bennett Lane (for picnic lunch). What are your opinions at these wineries?

        1. these might have space because they are lesser known. Taylor Family Winery is a great outdoor tasting experience, and they take reservations.
          www.taylorfamilyvineyards.com
          Maisonery is a lovely terrace experience offering wines from small producers. http://www.maisonry.com/