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  Napa Valley     [all categories]
  Napa Valley - Wineries to Visit
  Planning a trip in March

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Author Topic:   Planning a trip in March
Hawkeye
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posted 01-24-2011 05:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Joel, as yesilovewine says, it would be helpful to know how much time you will spend in Napa, will you be spending the night and where, etc. The maybe we can zone in for you for the best experience. Of course, you have to remember that we do have our individual prejudices.

IP: 68.169.189.111

yesilovewine
Member
posted 01-24-2011 12:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Joel, I didn't see how long you have to spend on the wine country part of our trip. If its only one day, then I think you would be better able to "experience" wine country if you go it on your own- plan to visit the places that interest you and make it your own memory.At least for me, a tour bus just wouldn't feel like it was "my" visit, if ya' know what I mean.
Plan to go on one of the winery tours like the basic Mondavi for a good overview of winemaking to gain a level of understanding that you can carry around with you , and plan to picnic at one of the scenic wineries, and then throw in two or three tastings. I would try to stay off the main hwy ( unless you go to Mondavi for the tour, of course) and visit some of the perhaps less "known" places but well situated ones. Or just stop when you see something interesting. For example, my limited knowledge of Napa Valley isn't too helpful but from our visits I really enjoyed seeing Trefethen and Silver Oak and Dutch Henry. They are in different parts of the valley and differ from one another quite a bit, so we got a broad-brush idea of Napa from those visits.
Wine tasting is about small samplings, lots of sniffing and lots of conversation when its done well. If you share your tastings and don't fear the "spit/dump bucket" you will be surprised how little wine you actually drink over the course of the day. Keep water and snacks a plenty in your car to keep hydrated and carbed-up between tasting sites and that will also help you not get that tipsy feeling.

IP: 98.232.221.183

joelm
Junior Member
posted 01-20-2011 03:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for joelm   Click Here to Email joelm     Edit/Delete Message
Thanks everyone for all of your input. It is greatly appreciated. I will try to answer some questions you guys have asked.

We don’t really have any set wineries that we wish to visit. We are both “novice” wine connoisseurs but definitely enjoy tasting wine and learning about the wines.

There are not too many wines I can think of that we do not like as it just depends on our mood and what foods we are pairing the wine with.

Basically, we want to “experience” the area while we are in California. We are outgoing and would have no problem mingling within our group. While on vacation and traveling, I like to try and stay away from commercial establishments. With that being said, I am a little hesitant to sign up for a tour that visits huge wineries and thus would not get a feel for the area. I could be wrong but just my thoughts.

Again, thanks everyone for your thoughts.

IP: 216.111.240.154

Hawkeye
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posted 01-20-2011 08:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Joel, mind if I weigh in on this topic? I have done both the guided tours and touring on my own, and I would opt to drive to Napa which is no big deal from SF. What I don't like about the guided tours is that you normally don't have a say in where you would like to go. Personally, I stay away from the big wineries because I can purchase most of their wine at home. What I am looking for are the small, out-of-the-way mom and pop wineries where you can find small boutique wines.

As far as drinking and driving, I have never had a problem for I go tasting, not drinking. My wife and I normally share a tasting which is acceptable to the wineries. Even with sharing, it has to be an outstanding wine for us not to pour out what is left. If you are worried about getting from there to there, either take a GPS or rent one with your car.

I know there are a lot of places to stay in the valley, but we normally opt for the lower priced preferring to spend our money on wine. You might check into the Railway Inn in Yountville at http://www.napavalleyrailwayinn.com/ Depending on when you are staying, call them for a quote. They are right in the middle of restaurants and tasting rooms, many within walking distance. Let us know what kind of wine you like and your price point, and maybe we can help you more.

My wife and I are going in March also. We prefer to stay in Calistoga at the Stevenson Manor Best Western Inn, a cut above most BWs. All except Friday and Saturday nights in March they have some decent prices. Cheers!

[This message has been edited by Hawkeye (edited 01-20-2011).]

IP: 68.169.189.111

damombo
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posted 01-20-2011 08:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for damombo   Click Here to Email damombo     Edit/Delete Message
Also, many of the hotels/motels/B&Bs will have tasting coupons for various wineries. There is also a magazine called Wine Country This Week (and they have a website) which offers information on wineries and often coupons. Coupons for two-for-one or complimentary tastings. I've even found coupons on a winery website. Napa Old World Inn points out that the conceirge at your choice of lodging should be happy to help out with these tasting coupons and even with making appointments at those places that require appointments. I'm not sure that the front desk lady at Best Western would go that far, but she did have coupons for us to use! And the one time we stayed at Embassy Suites, they had some to offer too.

IP: 98.198.194.134

damombo
Member
posted 01-20-2011 07:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for damombo   Click Here to Email damombo     Edit/Delete Message
Take a look at Yelp - they have reviews for Napa Bee Driven, Napa Winery Shuttle and Platypus tours. You'll get an idea about all three and which style would fit your style and budget. And there is a link to each of their websites.
And yes, they all will pick you up at your hotel or a pre-arranged meeting spot.
It looks like Napa Bee Driven will take you where you decide to go (and will give you good advice if you aren't sure of where to go), but the other two are group tours and the group consensus determines the places (along with the driver who might have a few places he/she has an "in"). There will be tasting fees at most wineries, but you can split a tasting anywhere with no problem. Our experience, both times we went on the Napa Winery Shuttle, was a blast. There were 4 other couples, all different ages, from all over (and each time there was one couple from England!) - and at first we were all semi-quiet and reserved. By the end of the second winery, we were all good friends and just having a ball!

As far a hotels, Napa has a wide range: Embassy Suites looks like they are around $150 for mid-week in March - and I would always shoot for mid-week in Napa Valley. It's less crowded and less expensive any time of year during the week. We usually stay at the Best Western Inn at the Vines - less expensive than most places in Napa, but still clean and comfortable. Not big in the romantic department perhaps, but reliable for comfort and quiet. There is a B&B called Napa Old World Inn, along with any number of B&Bs, but I've never stayed there - I just am familiar with NOWI from the Trip Advisor forums - they seem to be very nice folks with tons of info on the area.

Up valley, in Yountville, you'll find a number of lovely properties, but they will be more expensive. Of course, if you contact them directly, you might find a good deal, since March might still be considered low season.

WineCountry.com will have links to lots of the hotels/motels/B&Bs in the area.

Are there certain wineries that you might be interested in? Or particular wines?

IP: 98.198.194.134

yesilovewine
Member
posted 01-19-2011 09:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Joel.
I don't know about lodging, but there is a company called Napa Bee Driven that will drive you in YOUR vehicle wherever you choose to go. I have read good reports about them on Trip Advisor some months back. If you aren't sure that a group situation suits you you might consider them.

IP: 98.232.221.183

joelm
Junior Member
posted 01-19-2011 08:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for joelm   Click Here to Email joelm     Edit/Delete Message
Thank you for the advice. I will definitely look into the Napa Winery Shuttle. Do they typically just pick you up in a shuttle van and then drive you to different wineries per your choosing or is there a set schedule?

As with most people these days, we are going to be on a budget. Do you know of any affordable/cozy hotel that you recommend?

IP: 216.111.240.154

damombo
Member
posted 01-19-2011 07:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for damombo   Click Here to Email damombo     Edit/Delete Message
Hi and welcome!

I would opt for a night in Napa Valley. Get to Napa early and arrange for a tour to pick you up at the hotel you plan to stay at for the night. We used the Napa Winery Shuttle http://wineshuttle.com/index.html (two years in a row) and had a blast each time. After that we felt familiar with the area and were more comfortable with splitting tastings or spitting tastings and were confident about driving ourselves.

Most of the day tours pick you up at your hotel and then take you back at the end of the day. They visit 4-5 wineries and someplace for lunch (which may or may not be included in the price). It's a great way to get an overview of the area and not have to worry about driving. Then all you have to do is choose one of the fabulous restaurants in the area and make a reservation! Either Napa (town) or Yountville have great choices for hotels and for restaurants. So do St. Helena an Calistoga, but St. Helena is probably the most expensive, and Calistoga is at the far end of the valley, so for the first visit, I'd opt for Napa or Yountville...

Enjoy your planning!

IP: 98.198.194.134

joelm
Junior Member
posted 01-19-2011 07:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for joelm   Click Here to Email joelm     Edit/Delete Message
Hey Everyone,

I am planning a trip to San Fransisco in March and definitely want to visit Napa Valley. I was wondering what your suggestions would be on the best way to do it. I will have a car but am not very keen on driving it around after visiting the wineries.

Do you think I should do a tour from San Fransisco and come back?

Or do you think I should stay in Napa Valley and do a day tour? Do you know of any that pick up from your hotel?

I will be traveling with one other person.

Thanks for your help!

IP: 216.111.240.154

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