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  Napa Valley     [all categories]
  Napa Valley - Wineries to Visit
  First Trip - comments or suggestions please

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Author Topic:   First Trip - comments or suggestions please
Hawkeye
Member
posted 04-16-2012 03:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Condo,
We will look forward to your report.
-Hawkeye

IP: 67.167.170.10

yesilovewine
Member
posted 04-15-2012 05:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Cando...every two cents is important here...it all adds up to a wealth of information!
Look forward to hearing about your trip.

IP: 71.65.250.8

Cando
Junior Member
posted 04-15-2012 02:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cando     Edit/Delete Message
We finished our wine country trip and have just arrived back home a few days ago. What an experience!

I totally blame all you active members for making us so excited and for steering us in the direction of such good winerys. We brought home more wine than I ever imagined that we would, but it was just all so good that we couldn't help ourselves.

Our planning certainly made a big difference and I know that we wouldn't have had such a good experience without the help of this message board. I will write up a bit of what our impressions were. Can't really say that we have much to offer for advice at this point as our experience is so limited but I will put in my two cents for what it is worth.

IP: 66.74.106.150

Cando
Junior Member
posted 03-19-2012 01:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cando     Edit/Delete Message
Was able to confirm all appointments so we are set up that way. Thanks for the comments. I think the schedule looks pretty good too!

Hawkeye - the Maximus is why we are going to Bennett Lanes. You made it sound irrestible.

We will take your suggestion carjeff regarding staying in Yountville on evening two. That makes the most sense anyway. We wanted to do Stag Leaps Cellars but just could work in the timing. I will look again at it for day one and check out Steltzner as well.

Now it is time to figure out what is happening in San Francisco for the rest of our few days.

Thanks again for helping plan our trip. I will let you know how it goes after we get back.

[This message has been edited by Cando (edited 03-19-2012).]

IP: 66.74.106.150

carjeff
Member
posted 03-19-2012 09:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for carjeff   Click Here to Email carjeff     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Cando,

Your schedule looks good. I have a few suggestions for your late afternoon open spots. I would move Jessup, Girard or other Downtown Yountville tasting room from day 1 to day 2. That way it leaves you just a few blocks away from dinner at Bistro Jeanty. Since you like cabs, on day 1 I would visit somewhere in Stags Leap on your way back to Napa for dinner - possibly Steltzner(good, reasonable prices cabs) or Stags Leap Wine Cellars for the history.

Enjoy your trip!

IP: 155.178.5.10

Hawkeye
Member
posted 03-19-2012 07:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Cando,

I would call Rollie at (707) 967-0432 and talk to him directly.

"4:30 to 6:00 Here we are looking for suggestions in the Yountville area that are open later. Or even in Rutherford as we are in that area anyway. Anyone heard good things about Peju Province? That is open to 6 and doesn't need a reservation. Cosentino? Cornerstone Cellars? Beau Vigne?"

You have lots of options right in Yountville, all within walking distance. Jessup, Hope & Grace, Cornerstone, Hill Family, Chiarello, and others. Bistor Jeanty is one of our favorite restaurants.

I don't know about the 27 minutes from Bennett Lane to Pride Mountain. That is a narrow winding road and Pride is clear at the top. Don't forget to check out the Maximus at Bennett Lane.

Schedule sounds good.

-Hawkeye

IP: 68.169.184.68

Cando
Junior Member
posted 03-18-2012 03:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cando     Edit/Delete Message
So....finally we have narrowed down our itineray and I would like to run it by you guys for comments, suggestions or problems that you see.

I am not too sure about how long to leave for tasting and driving. Frogs Leap said tasting would be half an hour. Doesn't seem all that long but...

Day One - we are coming from San Francisco and I want to make sure that there is time to stop at a market and purchase a cooler as well as picnic supplies

11:00 tour and tasting at Robert Mondavi (75 minute)

1:00 tasting at Frogs Leap (no appointment needed)

2:00 Midsummer Cellars. I emailed for an appointment but haven't heard back yet. (could switch it to the 1:00 time as well)

3:00 Baldacci - left phone message but haven't heard back yet.

4:-5:00 - here we need help. Could go to to either Jessup or Girard tasting room or perhaps a walk-in somewhere going towards Napa. There seems to be several open later wineries in the Napa area that we could choose. Any suggestions?

5:30 Bounty Hunter for a tasting and then dinner hopefully around 6:30. They don't take reservations.

Day Two - stop again for picnic supplies

10:30 Bennett Lane

12:00 Pride Mountain (27minute drive from Bennett?)

1:45 Salon St. Helena

3:00 Hall Rutherford tour and tasting (90 minutes)

4:30 to 6:00 Here we are looking for suggestions in the Yountville area that are open later. Or even in Rutherford as we are in that area anyway. Anyone heard good things about Peju Province? That is open to 6 and doesn't need a reservation. Cosentino? Cornerstone Cellars? Beau Vigne?

6:15 Dinner at Bistro Jeanty

I wish we had more days!!

[This message has been edited by Cando (edited 03-18-2012).]

[This message has been edited by Cando (edited 03-18-2012).]

IP: 66.74.106.150

yesilovewine
Member
posted 03-10-2012 06:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Cando- not trying to dissuade you from using Hawkeye's suggestion, but if you have trouble finding maps, the winecountrygetaways site has an interactive planning map that may help you...it even plots the distance between facilities!

Hawkeye, the book I was referring to isn't the Prieser Key. I had mentioned to Cando about "Back Lane Wineries of Napa"- that's what I was talking about. For whatever reason, the Priesers haven't included Sonoma in the key.

IP: 71.65.197.21

Cando
Junior Member
posted 03-10-2012 01:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cando     Edit/Delete Message
Thanks everyone. Gosh I wish I had asked those questions first or at least a long time ago. It is only a month now until we go and I think we have it narrowed down pretty good, but obviously we should have been making reservations already. That will be a priority in the next day or so.

I went to OpenTable.com and just for fun tried to make a reservation at the French Laundry to see how it would work so that I am ready to make reservations. I couldn't get one! Surprise.

Also, Hawkeye - Thanks for the tip about charting our route using the map inserts on the WineCountry magazine. That is exactly what we will do.

I think we are now leaning towards the Mondavi tour, but I guess we will have to see if we can get in first!

We are all really excited and you guys have made the planning easier. Thanks so much

IP: 66.74.106.150

Hawkeye
Member
posted 03-10-2012 11:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Cando,

I am going to copy your questions and then try to answer them.

1. How far in advance do we need to make wine reservations?

When I am planning my itineraries, I layout a page for each day on PageMaker (software, you could use word or many other packages) I will begin each morning at 10:00 AM at which time most Napa wineries open. I list the wineries that I would like to visit that day, most of the time I plan 5 visits, two before lunch and three after. My time schedule looks like this (and can vary by the length of the tasting but most can be done in an hour or less) First tasting 10:00 AM, Second 11:00 AM, LUNCH Third tasting 1:30 PM, Fourth 2:30 PM, Third 3:30 PM. There is some flutter time in there. Some of the wineries I tasted may only have 1 or 2 wines which gives me a little extra time on the end for traveling. NOW TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION. I start making my appointments anywhere from 1 to 2 months out (that was sure a long way of getting there).

2. How far in advance do we need to make restaurant reservations?

As soon as you know what you want and where you want. Many of the restaurants are very small and fill quickly.

3.Which of the tours is the best and most comprehensive? Del Dotto, Hall Rutherford, Mondavi Signature. Or are they all good and we just have to pick one and go with it!

This really depends on what you want to accomplish. For the best overall information tour, as Yesilovewine states, the Mondavi Signature tour is among the best.

Del Dotto has a good cave tour but a little on the pricey side.

Hall Rutherford (not St. Helena) has the most spectacular tour. You start with a glass of chardonnay in their welcome center which has several pieces of the Hall's art work. Then you go down into the cave and into the crystal tasting room where they have this huge table and above it is a magnificent Swarvoski (spelling ?) crystal chandelier. It is spectacular. Their wines are a little on the high side but in my humble opinion, well worth it.

Hope this helps. -Hawkeye

IP: 68.169.184.68

Hawkeye
Member
posted 03-10-2012 11:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Yes,

I did not know there was a Sonoma version of Preiser Key. I use the Napa version in all of my itinerary planning. I find many of my small, family owned wineries on there. If they state, "Not open to the public', I take that as a challenge. Some of them mean it, some mean that you have to make an appointment to visit. I find that the wineries that I have to make an appointment at are some of the better wines that I have found, so don't count out making appointments.

Another thing I like to do is to Pick up enough issues of WineCountry magazine (free all over the valley). When I get my itinerary set for the next trip, I remove the maps of Napa Valley from the center section and will plot the wineries of each day on a separate map. This helps in locating each day's visits. You can do the same thing by going to WineCountry.com and printing off the map of NV.

-Hawkeye

IP: 68.169.184.68

yesilovewine
Member
posted 03-09-2012 08:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Glad you found the site helpful, Cando.
The book is a fun source, too. I have only skimmed the Napa version but own the Sonoma version and actually have used it for planning prior visits. If you don't care to purchase the book, its very possible that your library will have it as I have seen it on the shelf in 3 different states in small town libraries. Barnes and Noble usually carries it as well.

IP: 71.65.197.21

damombo
Member
posted 03-09-2012 07:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for damombo   Click Here to Email damombo     Edit/Delete Message
Hi y'all

I'm with RC - I make reservations as soon as I know when we are going and where we want to go.
I use OpenTable.com for the restaurant reservations and I call or email the various wineries as soon as I can.
Perhaps not really necessary (unless it's a busy time of year), but it sure gives me peace of mind, but I am a super-planner type
We are going in 3 weeks (FINALLY!) and I've had our reservations for over a month now...

IP: 96.8.187.200

yesilovewine
Member
posted 03-09-2012 07:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Well, to be honest I'm primarily a Sonoma gal, but all my research says that the Mondavi signature tour is unsurpassed as an introduction to wine making. It gets high marks for being focused not on " making Mondavi wine", but "how wine is made", if that makes sense.
I think it may be less expensive than the others as well.

IP: 71.65.197.21

RC456
Member
posted 03-09-2012 06:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RC456     Edit/Delete Message
Cando,

I'll take # 2 about dinner reservations (don't tell anyone else, but we go for the food as much as we do the wine!). Make them now. I made most of our dinner reservations 3 - 4 weeks ago and we don't go until the week before Memorial Day. The top spots will fill up, or you will be stuck with less desirable times.

RC

IP: 99.18.69.239

Cando
Junior Member
posted 03-09-2012 02:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cando     Edit/Delete Message
yesilovewine - thanks for the website for route ideas. I have been all over that site and think that it will give us some good suggestions.

My Preiser Key came today. It is great. A good magazine to take along as well as pour over now.

Poohh66 - thanks for the mention of the Bounty Hunter. I checked out their menu and it has now gone into the "must do" pile.

I have a couple questions that I hope someone can help with.

1. How far in advance do we need to make wine reservations?

2. How far in advance do we need to make restaurant reservations?

3.Which of the tours is the best and most comprehensive? Del Dotto, Hall Rutherford, Mondavi Signature. Or are they all good and we just have to pick one and go with it!

[This message has been edited by Cando (edited 03-09-2012).]

IP: 66.74.106.150

Poohh66
Member
posted 03-07-2012 02:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Poohh66     Edit/Delete Message
Hi yesilovewine
We have not made any tasting appointments, well other than one... my husband wanted to go to Caymus, since we are traveling with our daughter, we are concentrating on sightseeing, something we usually don't do as much while in Napa.
We have arranged for a hot air balloon ride, a segway tour and I want to take her to Castillo de Amorossa, as I mentioned she is into artsy photography.
We also cut our Napa short since we added a two day stay/play in Pebble Beach ...
We will arrive in San Fran friday evening....there till monday, Pebble Beach till wednesday and Napa till saturday very excited, will report on restaurants and wineries while there or when i return
Cheers !!!!!!!

IP: 173.168.214.16

yesilovewine
Member
posted 03-06-2012 07:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Pooh! So what's on the menu for your visit?
Cando- another source that you might enjoy is the book Back Lane Wineries of Napa- it has some great out-of-the way suggestions. As for actual route ideas, try www.winecountrygetaways.com. Its easy to navigate and they offer some suggestions with themed routing in mind.

IP: 71.65.197.21

Poohh66
Member
posted 03-06-2012 01:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Poohh66     Edit/Delete Message
As KOD mentioned Hill Family is a great place to visit, we did on the recommendation of Monty Preiser and became club members, Preiser Key is a great tool and you will find it in some of the tasting rooms free of charge, but you certainly want to look through it before you get there.
Another recommendation from Monty was Reynolds Family Winery, call and ask to speak to Matt, he is the sweetest and will make for a fun tasting.
Del Dotto cave tasting was super fun, highly recommend it.
We really enjoyed the tasting and tour of Cakebread, though it is a bit higher price, it is a very interesting tour.
Baldacci is one you should not miss, their Pinot is to die for, this again was another of Preiser's recommendation and probably one of our favorite, call and talk to Fran, she is the best and you may not even have to make an appointment, more of a mention that you will be dropping by.
All the restaurants mentioned here were superb, we will be in Napa next week and Bounty Hunter is on the top of our list and it comes highly recommended if you like that kind of food, we have never been.
Have fun planning !!!

IP: 173.168.214.16

Cando
Junior Member
posted 03-06-2012 12:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cando     Edit/Delete Message
Thanks for that info KOD. I am waiting for the Preiser Key that I ordered, but still browsing on the forum and elsewhere everyday for recommendations.

We are certainly hoping to find wine that we love and that it will be in the $40 range (or less). If we more than love it, I am sure that we will have to have a bottle or two even if the price is higher. I was just afraid that wineries would be expecting cases to be purchased or clubs to be joined in exchange for an hour or so of their time. I am getting the feeling that is not the case so I think we will be fine.

IP: 66.74.106.150

Kod
Member
posted 03-05-2012 09:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kod     Edit/Delete Message
Hill Family very nice and reasonable wines, Jessup (can get free tasting) both in Yountville and no pressure to buy.
Jarvis in Napa entirely in an interesting cave- we had a nice tour and sit down tasting. No pressure to buy as there is a fee for the tastings.
Kuleto up in the mountains is a very pretty place with killer views, again another fee but we encountered no pressure to buy. MidSummers very small and sit outside with owner. He does not pressure but there is no fee and in these situations I always feel obligated to buy something- his wines are $40 each and great.
I have been to Mustards and Bistro Jeanty several times and they are my favorite places.Both are nontrendy and offer very well prepared food, large portions, and reasobably priced.

IP: 68.45.99.199

ssala
Member
posted 03-04-2012 07:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ssala   Click Here to Email ssala     Edit/Delete Message
More random thoughts-
The Preiser Key also has a page that lists wineries by varietal so that should help. For our upcoming trip I scoured the message boards here, and talked to the owner of a wine shop we frequent. Then I went to the individual winery websites. As a general rule, I look for wineries that are well-reviewed AND have a number of bottles in the $25-40 range. We will only occasionally purchase a bottle in the $75-100 range. We do sometimes visit wineries where we have no real intention of buying, but have heard such great things about the wine.
We have visited close to 30 wineries in Napa and have never been treated rudely although the staff in some of the busier places had less time to chat. I will probably think of some more things later. Scott

IP: 75.70.79.148

Cando
Junior Member
posted 03-03-2012 02:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cando     Edit/Delete Message
Thanks SSala. I did check out the Preiser Key and it looked great. Ordered my copy of it this afternoon. Thanks for the feedback.

IP: 66.74.106.150

ssala
Member
posted 03-03-2012 11:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ssala   Click Here to Email ssala     Edit/Delete Message
First off, I would buy a Preiser Key. We found a copy at the B&B we were staying at and have used it to plan our trips to Napa. It gives information on the wineries (if appointments are necessary, tasting room times, etc.) There are also maps broken down into sections. I have used this feature so we can concentrate our tasting to a confined area...more tasting time, less driving time.
You can look through the message strands and find lots of suggestions for wineries.
We have done the cave tour at Del Dotto and found it to be quite fun. I believe it is one of the original caves in the valley, built by Chinese laborers after the completion of the railroad.
We had a fine meal at Mustard's and an exceptional one at Cafe Jeanty.
I would love to read a recap after your trip as we will be going to Napa and Sonoma in late April. Have fun! Scott

IP: 75.70.79.148

Cando
Junior Member
posted 03-03-2012 07:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cando     Edit/Delete Message
My son and his wife are joining me on our first visit to the Napa Valley. We will be driving from San Francisco on Thurday April 5 in the morning and will be working our way to our hotel the Wine Valley Lodge on Coombs St. in Napa. We stay there for 2 nights - driving back to San Fran probably early on Saturday morning. So that gives us 2 full days for activites. Not long enough I know, but all we can do this time is get a "taste" of what is offered.

The only things that I know for sure is that I would like to eat at Mustards Grill, Bistro Jeanty, and the Rutherford Grill. I think we would like to do a cool cave tour, maybe spend time in Yountville -(could we do tasting rooms here?) and of course enjoy the scenery as we go from tasting to tasting.

We like red wines - mostly cabs but always up for trying others. We won't be spending a fortune on wines - maybe a bottle or two at each place that we like and we are not in a position to join any wine clubs. What we like we will have to either find them at home or wait for our next visit.

My problem is that I don't know which winerys to go to. (I am fine to make appointments) I don't want to go to any winerys that expect a big pay off in the end because we just can't afford that kind of spending right now so we don't want to be embarrased - but we still would love to taste some great reds and see what there is to see.

Can anyone help with winery selection as well as routes to fit in where we are starting from and where we would like to eat.

As you can probably tell I have been reading this message board for a long time now so hopefully I gave enough info to get some great advise. I appreciate any help we can get.

IP: 66.74.106.150

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