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  Napa Valley     [all categories]
  Napa Valley - Wineries to Visit
  First trip to Napa

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Author Topic:   First trip to Napa
posted 08-11-2011 08:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bigsemi   Click Here to Email bigsemi     Edit/Delete Message
For PN head to Kosta Browne.

V. Sattui actually has two great PN, their Doctor's, and Henry Ranch.

I'd say the wine train is over rated. You can get better food around the valley for a lot less, and the views while driving are wonderful, with several different places you could pull off for pictures.

If you are going to be there on a Friday night, you might want to look into heading to Round Pond for their sun set lounge:


It is a beautiful way to start an evening, before a late dinner.


[This message has been edited by bigsemi (edited 08-11-2011).]


posted 08-11-2011 02:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Your best bets for Pinot will be in the Sonoma county area. Roessler Cellars in the town of Sonoma has a great tasting room with 27 Pinot offerings, Matrix is up in the Dry Creek area and they are known as a Pinot "house" we also enjoyed Pinots in Alexander Valley at Fieldstone and DeLormier.
A very good resource for seeing who is producing respected wines in specific varietals is to check the Harvest Fair results. They are listed by varietal and by price.
The areas around Carneros and the Southern part of the Russian River are where the Pinots are said to grow best. DeLoach, Merry Edwards and Russian Hill are some wineries you may have heard of in that area.
Don't worry about it being your first trip...just go have fun. You might enjoy doing a facility tour to get a feel for how the wine is made and some of the things that affect its outcome as well as a tutorial on proper tasting if you aren't already familiar. Mondavi usually gets the nod for that.
As for whether or not to join a tour, it really depends on if you think you would like to join with a group of folks you don't know and if you feel comfortable going where ever the driver chooses. Since its your first trip, that may appeal to you- you know your travel style best.
We really botched our first trip by not planning well in advance. We trekked from one side of Napa to the other and didn't use a logical progression for winery visits, so that would be the one thing I would offer as important; if you are going to drive yourselves, plot a logical progression of visits and keep them close together so you can maximize your time.
Since you're new I would also caution you to 1) USE THE SPIT/DUMP BUCKET LIBERALLY...it is not considered an offense to spit, its actually a sign of a seasoned taster who knows that they'll get snockered if they drink all that's poured
2) drink lots of water...to prevent de-hydration and stave off tipsiness
3) Carry water and snacks in the car so you can eat and drink between tastings...your body needs something to soak up what you consume and drinking between stops is a good habit.


Junior Member
posted 08-08-2011 01:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dan65     Edit/Delete Message
I'm not a big Pinot fan myself but people whose opinion I respect say that the grapes from Gary's vineyard tend to make excellent wine.

Here is a link to their website and the wineries that use their grapes.



Junior Member
posted 08-07-2011 06:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Guessnyg     Edit/Delete Message
RC, thank you so much. We are both really looking forward to our trip and your information is going to be extremely helpful. If you don't mind posting about Sonoma as well that would be great. We had thought about driving over there, and if they have good Pinot Noir, that might make it a definite.


posted 08-07-2011 06:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RC456     Edit/Delete Message

Welcome to the board!

10 years ago on our first trip....we didn't have a clue or plan on what to do. Relax. You can't help but to have a great time, even if you never venture off HWY 29 running up the valley. We are leaving for Napa/Sonoma on the 25th of this month ourselves and can't wait to get there!

First, see my post of 7/31/2011 titled Discounts on Tastings. Download the app. It will help you with which wineries offer discounts on tours & tastings.

Second, seeing that your fiance likes Pinot Noir, you should head over to Sonoma Valley - which is known more for Pinot than Napa.

Map for Napa: http://napavalley.com/visitorsinfo/Napa_Valley_Winery_Map.pdf

We are not Power Tasters.....in other words, we visit 3 to 4 wineries in a day. One in the morning and 2 or 3 in the afternoon depending on mood and whatever else we decide to do. Because of this, we drive ourselves and don't do the tour bus thing. If you decide to drive yourself, then remember: 1. Spit more than not, 2. take crackers & water with you in the car to eat & drink between tastings.

Since you are staying in Yountville, there is lots to do there (wines & food) in walking around distance.

I suggest a tour or two during your stay. Do a big producer (Mondavi is probably the best, then there is Beringer or Sterling). Sterling is neat because of the tram ride to the top. Great views off the veranda. Then, I would do a smaller producer tour. Grgich Hills in Rutherford, or better yet, north to Chateau Montelena. Chateau Montelena is on Tubbs Ln north of Calistoga. Terrific grounds, great people, remarkable building, and helped put N Cali wines on the map with their win in '76 Paris Tasting. (Movie "Bottle Shock"). Oh yea, their wines are pretty good too!

Wine Train? I think everyone should do it at least once. You can opt to take a winery tour off the train as well.

Greystone. Culinary Inst of America's west coast campus. We are foodies and go here each and every visit without fail. We go to the cooking demo (about 1 hr) and then eat at the Wine Spectator Restaurant on site. Here is their website: http://www.ciachef.edu/restaurants/wsgr/default.asp?source=GSH&segment=WSGR

St Helena. Just walking the town and browsing the shops. Taking it easy. Gott's Roadside is a must stop for a shake & burger.

Calistoga. We like walking the small town as well. My wife has her favorite clothing boutique there (Attitudes). Several great places to eat. Also known for their spas.

Napa wineries that we favor South to North on Hwy 29):
Jessup Cellars
Grgich Hills
V Sattui (mainly the deli)
Castello de Amorosa ( the castle )

The Silverado Trail runs parallel to Hwy 29 up the valley. Lots and lots of great places there as well, not to mention just a great drive.

Others will offer their opinions and suggestions. I am sure that you will have a great trip and want to go back as soon as you can!

If you want my opinion on Sonoma, let me know and I will post over there. As I said, best Pinot Noir is in Sonoma.


Junior Member
posted 08-07-2011 02:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Guessnyg     Edit/Delete Message

My fiance and I are heading to Napa for the first time later this month and we are looking for some suggestions of places to visit and how to go about visiting them. We are going to be arriving (staying in Yountville) on a Monday and leaving Thursday, and we have had some advice from a couple of people that have visited Napa. Since we have never been, should we take one of the tours our go on the wine train which had been recommended to us, or would it be better to pick some places and drive around to them? My fiance loves Pinot Noir, so we definitely would like to go to a winery that is known for their Pinot. Any advice or tips on what we should look to do or avoid would be greatly appreciated.


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