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  Napa Valley     [all categories]
  Napa Valley - Wineries to Visit
  1st time to SF & Napa

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Author Topic:   1st time to SF & Napa
posted 06-29-2012 11:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Stina,

Here is some general information: Napa Valley is about 25 or 30 miles from top to bottom. You have two main roads, the Silverado Trail on the east side is the prettier drive with fewer wineries along the distance. Many are off on side roads like those going up on Howell Mountain. The second main road is Hwy 29 which runs on the west side of the valley (many times there are only a couple miles or less between the two). Hwy 29 is loaded with wineries and most of the time, the older more established wineries. If you can plan your trip so that all of your wineries are on the same side of the road it eliminates fighting to get across the traffic.

Here is my advice on questions you asked:

I prefer to drive myself. That way, I can visit the wineries that I want to visit. For you, I would suggest that you go with one of the tour groups your first day to "get the lay of the land". There are several available and I would suggest that you call them and find out what wineries they visit and then pick the one that looks the best to you.

Then the other days you can go on your own. REMEMBER, you are there to "taste", not "drink". Taste during the day in the tasting rooms, then at dinner, you can drink. When tasting, we like to share because we never drink the amount, however small, that they pour. We tasted and whether we like the wine or not, pour out the remainder in their "spit" bucket.

When you drive on your own, try and stay in one appellation, ie., Howell Mountain, Stags Leap, St. Helena, etc. That way you will not have as far to drive between wineries. Secondly, take plenty of water and snacks to drink and eat between tastings. Drinking water is probably the most important to help keep you sober.

Again, there are two differences, Tour and/or Tasting. In my humble opinion, you only need to do one tour in conjunction with a tasting. The tour will take you through the winery and tell you the process in making wine. Then, after you know how it is made, just do the tasting which in many instances is cheaper than a tour and tasting. Many recommend one of the Berringer tours as being the best.

If you will go to this website, it will show you the wineries that are open to the public and the wineries requiring an appointment http://napavalley.com/visitorsinfo/Napa_Valley_Winery_Map.pdf

Maybe if you told us the varietals that you like, you would get some suggestions for specific wineries.

When we first started visiting, we made very few appointments . . . now it is almost all by appointment because we tend to like the smaller more intimate wineries and they tend to be appointment only.

Maybe this, along with the other suggestions, will help you make some decisions.



posted 06-29-2012 11:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ssala   Click Here to Email ssala     Edit/Delete Message
My standard bit of advice is always to get a copy of the Preiser Key- http://www.preiserkey.com/.
You might also share what kinds of varietals you enjoy and whether you would like to see the more "touristy" places (still fun)or prefer something smaller.
Cheers, Scott


posted 06-27-2012 08:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Stina, there are some good tutorials on line too... winecountry.com, winecountrygetaways.com and wineroad,com are ones I have read along the way...re-vamping of sites may have removed them but they used to be under tabs like "wine 101" or "tasting rooms".
I happen to have the book bigsemi mentioned and its a goodie so if you prefer hard copy then I'd second his suggestion.


posted 06-27-2012 06:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bigsemi   Click Here to Email bigsemi     Edit/Delete Message
Best advice I can give is to get a copy of Frommers Wine Country Day to Day hand book. It will give you a great intro into all the knowledge you'll need, about wineries, restaurants, hotels, and different ways of getting around the valley. Even after over 20 trips I still glance at my older copy every once in a while.


Junior Member
posted 06-27-2012 02:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for stina517   Click Here to Email stina517     Edit/Delete Message

This is our first time to the area. We are staying a few days in Napa. How do the wineries work in terms of visiting them? Is it better to do a tour or drive to each winery? What are the best wineries to visit?



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