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  Napa Valley     [all categories]
  Napa Valley - Wineries to Visit
  Trip Report from First timer

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Author Topic:   Trip Report from First timer
yesilovewine
Member
posted 04-28-2012 10:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Ssala,
I had trouble finding you on the Sonoma threads, but it sounds like you had a good trip there as well.
Stryker has been getting mixed reviews on other boards lately, so I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed that visit. We have enjoyed their wine in the past but got away from them just because of a shift in interests and a less than stellar tasting experience on our last one.
I think that if you like their wines you may also like Paradise Ridge.

IP: 71.65.244.48

ssala
Member
posted 04-28-2012 06:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ssala   Click Here to Email ssala     Edit/Delete Message
Thanks, but it was a half marathon. Brutal heat, but I did manage a 4th place finish in my 55-59 division. Inspiring enough to go again next year. Wine-wise, we joined our first wine club at Benessere and got on the Zin wait list at Stryker Sonoma, although the Zins at Sausal are definitely drawing my interest.

IP: 75.70.79.148

Cando
Junior Member
posted 04-27-2012 12:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cando     Edit/Delete Message
Hawkeye
No need to be sorry. Your advise added to our great experience!

In retrospect, I wonder if the stress of staying on a time line didn't affect my perception of Salon. I think if I hadn't felt pressured with timing, I might have enjoyed the experience and by association the wine more. I won't go there again - but I will keep an open mind about the wines. Too many people have said that the wines are good for me to go with just one tasting. I will look forward to the one bottle that I bought and see if it tastes like I hope.

ssala - congratulation on your marathon! Wow. You deserve to have a great bottle of wine after that effort.


IP: 76.70.112.31

carjeff
Member
posted 04-25-2012 01:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for carjeff   Click Here to Email carjeff     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Cando - thanks for the great trip report. We have added some of your favorites to our list for our next trip.

Hi ssala - congrats on doing Silverado 1/2 marathon. My wife and I had plans to run the supposed inaugural race last fall, but they postponed it until this spring, and we were unable to return. Sounds like you had a great race, and visited some excellent wineries.

IP: 155.178.6.10

ssala
Member
posted 04-25-2012 10:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ssala   Click Here to Email ssala     Edit/Delete Message
Thanks and this was my first half-marathon in 30 years, although I have done 4 marathons, but none in the last five years or so. I like the half-marathon distance, long enough to be challenging, but not so punishing for this mid-fifties body. My wife would have run as well, but her training took a hit with a lot of business-related travel. With the blazing temps, it was a wise choice for her not to gut it out. Next year, for sure. And Madrigal was on our list for a repeat visit. Another lesson learned...that last winery of the day is in a precarious position.

IP: 75.70.79.148

damombo
Member
posted 04-25-2012 09:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for damombo   Click Here to Email damombo     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Scott. Thanks for the report and congratulations on your run! I'm impressed - how long have you been running in 1/2 marathons?

Failla is new to us - we will have to add it to the list for November. Sorry you had to miss Madrigal - they are one of our favorites!

Sounds like y'all had a great trip

IP: 76.31.52.34

ssala
Member
posted 04-25-2012 06:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ssala   Click Here to Email ssala     Edit/Delete Message
We have also just returned from Napa/Sonoma.
I ran the Silverado Trail Half Marathon in fairly challenging heat on Sunday and finished 4th in my 55-59 age group. Pleased with that and looking forward to running it again.
On Saturday...
Baldacci- This is our second visit and we again enjoyed the tasting and conversation. Bought a Carneros Pinot, a Stags Leap Cab, and a Four Sons Cab.
Hill- Lovely tasting room in downtown Yountville. Genial host. Bought a Clarke Valley Syrah.
A stop at Sunshine Foods in St. Helena for their delicious deli sandwiches.
Picnic lunch at Benessere. This is the first time we have joined a wine club and bought 6 bottles of their old vine zin. We were there chatting with the director of hospitality for about 2 and a half hours. We had to skip a repeat visit to Madrigal just up the road (next time).
After the race and a massage at the Euro Spa, we traveled to Failla. Another exquisite, intimate tasting room. The staff member was knowledgeable, but a little brash. Bought a Keefer Ranch pinot.
Rombauer- practically across the highway, beautiful gardens, and a boisterous tasting room. With four of us (all avid learners and baby-boomers)we were able to corral a staff member for our entire tasting. Bought a Napa cab and a cab blend "Le Meilleur du Chat".
Zahtilla-We were sitting outside, eating cheese and salami, when the staff member came out to pour our first glass. I was telling this person how much I admired the philosophy of the winemaker (going on and on) when we found out the person I was speaking to was, in fact, Laura Zahtilla. Oh my...I had been expecting some staff member, but Laura and her husband do so much of the work themselves. Bought a lovely little dessert wine. Keep your eyes on this one though. The next part of our trip took us over to the Sonoma side...

IP: 75.70.79.148

Hawkeye
Member
posted 04-21-2012 07:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Cando,

Great report from a first timer . . . enjoyed reading it.

Sorry that some of the ones I recommended to you did not work out. A lot of the tasting and whether you like the wines or not, depends on the people. Those that you didn't care for, we have had great tastings.

-Hawkeye

IP: 67.167.170.10

yesilovewine
Member
posted 04-18-2012 12:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
This sounds like a great trip, Cando...thank you so much for taking the time to write such a complete account!
I'm very glad to hear that you enjoyed Hall as that is proposed for our upcoming trip.

IP: 71.65.250.8

Cando
Junior Member
posted 04-18-2012 11:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cando     Edit/Delete Message
We started our first day in San Francisco and knowing that we had an 11 o'clock tour booked at Mondavi's, we decided that we should get on the road early. Someone at the hotel told us that the highway would be packed for rush hour traffic so we decided to go the western route and head over the golden gate bridge instead of the more direct route over the Oakland Bay bridge. I am glad we did as the drive was great and crossing the Golden Gate was fun. I have no idea if there was a lot of traffic on the freeway but we sailed through without a slowdown. Of course then we were way early - but were able to check into our hotel in Napa and get our picnic supplies without any rush.

I must admit that although the weather was a little cool the first day, it was not crowded on the roads or at the wineries, which was so nice for visiting. I would definitely go touring in early April again.

The Mondavi tour was a great start. We got there a bit early and since the tasting bar was empty, I asked the hostess if she knew what we would taste that day. After she told us, she offered us a tasting of a different wine that was not on the day's list and we had a friendly tasting and chat while waiting for the tour to start.
I would recommend this tour for anyone who is interested in a more informative approach. We enjoyed it and liked the wines, but not enough to purchase. At this point we were thinking two bottles a piece for each suitcase so wanted to only take home the best. We paid $25 for tour so we were not feeling the pressure to purchase.

Our next stop was Frogs Leap. No appointment needed. A great relaxing winery with small tables and chairs set up in a backyard type of setting. Lots of games could be played, strolls could be taken. Time could be spent just enjoying the sun and wine. A cheese and cracker plate was offered along with water for our tasting of 3 or 4 wines ($20). Although I am mostly a red wine drinker, the first taste was of a 2011 Sauvignon Blanc. Excellent - light and citrusy. Must admit it was my first purchase! My son bought the 2009 Zinfandel. Would go back to this winery just for the fun, but the wine is worth the visit as well. We felt like we could have spent more time there, but had a 2 o’clock at Midsummer Cellars so headed out after less than an hour and arrived at Midsummer just on time.

Rollie has a small operation and obviously loves his work. He was willing to answer a million questions and so we enjoyed hearing his stories and tasting his wines. We had a barrel tasting of his new Cab and I was impressed. It will be great in a few years so am looking forward to getting a bottle or two when it is ready. He would take future orders, but that doesn’t work for us as we are Canadians and shipping is not really feasible. I spend winters in California so can be on the lookout for Napa wines or order for shipment during the winter months. His tasting was no charge, but we didn’t have a problem with buying a couple bottles of his current Cabs. Really enjoyed the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Clark-Claudon Vineyard as well as the Canon Creek Vineyard wine.

As this visit was coming to an end, we realized that an hour just wasn’t really long enough for us. We were not just interested in the tastings, but in the winery as well so felt a bit rushed. Next time I will schedule our appointments an hour and a half apart and that way instead of worrying about being late to the next appointment we will be able to take our time and just enjoy the tasting that we are at.

We then visited Baldacci Vineyards where we had the reserve tasting. What a great decision that was. Not sure what the regular $15 tasting would include, but we tasted some amazing wines. The first one which we originally were going to pass on was the 2009 Sorelle Chardonnay. I don’t even care for Chardonnays as a rule, but that bottle went home with me. I am wishing now that I had bought two as I hate the thought of drinking it and then it is gone! My son bought the 2008 Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon and I bought two bottles of the 2008 Brenda's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. That may have been the best wine that I tasted the whole trip. Baldacci will be on my buy list from now on.

By this time it was 4:30 and we were feeling like we were done for wine tasting for the day. We drove back to Napa and went to the Bounty Hunter for a glass of wine and an early dinner. Had some share dishes of the ribs, pulled pork, and chicken. All were good and I would go back there again for sure.

Our second day started at Bennett lane Winery. When we arrived there was a group of club members there who were already spread out around the entire bar so we were offered a small corner and it was suggested that we share tastings. Everything that we tasted was ok, but we were having a hard time trying to find one that we wanted to purchase (though the Maximus is not a bad blend). Our host excused himself to take the club members on a tour of the property so another gentleman stepped in to finish our tasting. He recommended that we try a couple of the reserve wines and that was when I found the 2006 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon that I left with, along with a bottle of the 2007 Merlot which was also nice. Not sure that I need to go back there as our experience was not that great with the first host, and Napa Valley is filled with so many wineries that I would like to see.

Leaving Bennett we went up to Pride Mountain Vineyards. The drive up was amazing – a narrow winding road that I thought would go on forever. When we got to the top, the view was worth every second of the drive and the winery was very welcoming. We were taken into the caves where they had set up tasting stations with different varietals. The gal that was doing the tasting was really pleasant and so we had a great time tasting both from the bottle and a couple of barrel tastings. We bought a merlot, a syrah and the mistelle de viognier. After, we went up to their picnic area and had lunch surrounded by a gorgeous view. Fun tour and decent wines so would recommend them for a visit.

We had to rush back down the mountain to get to The Salon in St. Helena that does the tastings for Harris and Jones Wineries. Not much of an atmosphere as it is really just a store front with a large table and chairs. This was my least favorite experience and I wouldn’t go back. The tasting was $35 per person and we only tasted 4 wines. The Harris wines didn’t work for us and I felt like they were overpriced compared to other wines that we had been enjoying. I did buy a bottle of Jones 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon and I am hoping that it will be as good as or better than the day I tasted it. Again we were rushed as our tasting was for 1:45 and we had to be at Hall Rutherford for a 3 o’clock tour. I had told our host Asa and he said he would have us out in plenty of time. It took so long for him to share his stories in between each of the 4 tastings that we didn’t leave there until 3 so of course were late for a scheduled tour at Hall. There were other people waiting on us so I was not very happy about having to sit through all of Asa’s stories to taste only 4 wines. Because you are seated at a table with other people, you don’t have control of the timing or the pace. I would avoid that type of situation in future.

Our next visit was to Hall Rutherford where we took the cave tour. This place takes top place for me. The winery is beautiful and different and a must see as far as I am concerned. The wines are delicious and reasonably priced. I ended up shipping a case of wine to my place in California and I will cellar it there until I return next winter. We bought some Merlot, Malbec and several of the Cabernets. It just all tasted good. We drank the 2008 HALL "Bergfeld" St. Helena Cabernet Sauvignon already, and it was bold and amazing but I will be leaving the remaining to rest before I dip into them again next winter.

We stopped off at Carton and Crates in Napa and shipped a second case and still had a few bottles that we had to pack in the suitcase.

Again after 4 wineries we were tasted out so spent a bit of time at the hotel before going to Bistro Jeanty for dinner. It was very interesting and our group of 4 all ordered something different and we shared. Nice evening and would go there again. That was the end of our time in Napa Valley. I will definitely look forward to going again.

IP: 66.74.106.150

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