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  Napa Valley     [all categories]
  Napa Valley - Wineries to Visit
  Girls trip to Napa/Sonoma-1st timers

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Author Topic:   Girls trip to Napa/Sonoma-1st timers
posted 06-07-2012 05:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RC456     Edit/Delete Message
I’m going to make my suggestions based on being 1st timers and the following assumption: since you didn’t call out specific varietals of wine that you are interested in/looking for and that you can enjoy any type of wine in the right company, I am guessing that you are primarily interested in more of the whole Napa/Sonoma experience rather than hard core wine hunting and seeking out specific wineries. That is exactly who my wife and I where 10 years ago on our first trip…..we didn’t know anything about the area (or wines for that matter) other than we had always heard that it was a great trip to take and we would have fun. Well, 8 trips later I can definitely say we have had fun and enjoyed each & every trip!

Napa Valley is much easier to navigate than Sonoma. From Napa to Calistoga all along the main drag (Hwy 29) there are at least 30 wineries with entrances off Hwy 29. Over in Sonoma County, it is more spread out meaning more driving and the need to know where you are going (GPS comes in handy).

Where to stay: Either south in Napa or north in Calistoga. Napa will have plenty of choices, but since you may be splitting room charges, the Embassy Suites would be a good place on the south end to consider. It is convenient to the main highway, near the outlet mall, downtown Napa, & a nice quality property. Napa being the largest city has more activities (night life) & city conveniences. Higher end properties are in Yountville. If you are looking for more quiet and low key, then Calistoga and I agree w/ Hawkeye on staying at the Stevenson Best Western.

Map of Napa wineries. http://www.napavalley.winecountry.com/visitorsinfo/Winery_Map.pdf

We started by just circling the wineries that we were already familiar with from wines we had enjoyed before. Just neat to see the places where the wines you like are made. After that, we just researched the top rated ‘things to do’ from places like Trip Advisor (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g32766-Activities-Napa_Napa_Valley_California.html) Go through and read them to see what strikes your interest. Go to the individual websites and see if it still is appealing.

Wineries, Restaurants, & things to do that we have enjoyed over the years:
Mondavi – probably one of the best tours for the 1st timer.
Cakebread – great wines.
Round Pond – just did their Olive Mill tour & tasting 3 weeks ago….thoroughly enjoyed.
V Sattui – prob the most visited winery in the valley. Great place. Awesome deli.
Rutherford Hill - grab a deli picnic lunch from V Sattui and short drive over to Silverado Trail up to Rutherford Hill winery…..picnic area overlooking the valley. Good tour of their caves as well.
Beringer – love their grounds & property
Culinary Institute of America – Greystone campus.
Castello De Amorosa – the castle. Must see for 1st timer.
Sterling – take the cable lift up to the winery. Great views
Chateau Montelena - movie “Bottle Shock” fame. Great building and grounds.
Mustards Grill – lunch there at least one day
Farmstead – breakfast there at least one day (If there on a Sunday, have Sunday brunch here).
Yountville – dinner one night at one of the great places in town (Bottega, Bistro Jeanty, Hurley’s)
Gott’s Roadside / Taylor’s Refreshers – best drive in ever! The milkshakes!!!!!!!

We took some 1st time visitors with us last September. They enjoyed everything, but their favorite: just spending an afternoon over in the town of Sonoma walking the square, hanging out/eating in your choice of gathering spots (Murphy’s Pub, Swiss Hotel), shops, etc. http://www.sonomasquare.com/

If we saw an interesting place as we drove around…….we pulled in to check it out. Just be adventurous.

One thing I suggest not doing: The Wine Train.

Hope this helps and I’m sure others will have more and better suggestions. Have fun!



posted 06-07-2012 01:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Hi mmm,

First, it would be helpful when you will be arriving in Napa . . . morning or afternoon and then when morning or afternoon you have to leave. That will help in suggestions.

If you are expecting some exciting night life, you had better stay in Texas. There is not much going on at night in Napa Valley. If that is important to you, then I would suggest the City of Napa since there are more bars there. If you are only going to be there 3 days, I would suggest 2 in Napa Valley and 1 in Healdsburg, but stay in Calistoga.

If you would like a nice homey stay, I would suggest Calistoga, which is our favorite. (The whole Valley is only about 30 miles long. We like the Stevenson Manor Best Western Inn Plus (a cut above most BSs). From there, you can go south along the Silverado Trail, south on Hwy 29 (the main wine trail) of north over to Healdsburg.

Let me know arrival and departure and some of your preferences and I will try and build a schedule for you. You are not going to find too much sweet wine in Napa or Sonoma.

Personally, I stay away from the festivals because I don't like crowds and you do not get the personal attentions that you do when visiting the wineries.

You will find a good selection of restaurants and bars in Calistoga.


[This message has been edited by Hawkeye (edited 06-07-2012).]


posted 06-07-2012 06:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ssala   Click Here to Email ssala     Edit/Delete Message
First of all, I will start off with my standard piece of advice. Order the Preiser Key at http://www.preiserkey.com/. There are separate guides for Napa and Sonoma. You will find a wealth of information including maps, lists of varietals,etc. I generally collect the names of wineries from the different posts on this board, although you do have to dig a little. Then I pick out a group of wineries that are well-reviewed and fairly close together to minimize driving time. I mix some scheduled appointments with a couple of drop-ins where possible. We have stayed in both Napa at the south end and Calistoga in the north. For our next trip I am also looking at VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner)which list quite a few properties in Napa and Sonoma. We have been using this site frquently as we can get access to a kitchen. This info should give you a start and others will no doubt chime in with excellent advice. Scott


Junior Member
posted 06-06-2012 09:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mmmassaro   Click Here to Email mmmassaro     Edit/Delete Message
Howdy!(from Texas) My best friend and I are putting together a birthday trip for us two and possibly a group of other girls in August for 4 days,3 nights and we need help putting together an itinerary. My best friend loves reds and I love sweet wines but if it helps my preference doesn't matter as I will enjoy everything in good company! We haven't chosen where to stay yet b/c we would like ideas or advice on that based on the itinerary suggested. Hope someone can help! As for lodging, we could have anywhere from 2-4 of us splitting a room so lodging should be pretty affordable with this plan in mind wherever suggested(we hope The only thing that perked my interest so far was a couple festivals in Sonoma on Saturday but nothing in stone yet as far as having to do this as part of our itinerary. Looking forward to getting some ideas! Thanks in advance!!


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