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  Napa Valley     [all categories]
  Napa Valley - Wineries to Visit
  Newbie - late to the game?

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Author Topic:   Newbie - late to the game?
posted 10-09-2013 07:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Run', and welcome.
Since your itinerary isn't set, and you have 3 days, do consider a day in Sonoma County. As Hawkeye said, if you travel through Calistoga to "the other side" you will have set access for some really great "BIG" red wines, and if Jordan and Simi interest you, they are not hard to find. Since its your first visit, a day trip to Sonoma County would really round out your trip, IMO...but I'm quite prejudiced toward that area, so you should probably take that with a grain of salt.
Simi's tour is supposed to be very interesting and its free, but it used to be offered only at certain days and times, so you would want to check that before depending on it. Jordan is getting some great comments lately, so I think it would be interesting to visit, but I am fairly sure that reservations are required, and if coming from lower Napa that may be a hassle.
If you think that you want to go with a driver service, Bee Driven is still recommended on TA, but that is the only one I know off hand.
Have a great trip.


Junior Member
posted 10-08-2013 09:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for runforwine     Edit/Delete Message
No set itinerary yet - LOVING the feedback! (I'm not sure about the TripAdvisor entry? Maybe that's another runner who loves wine and uses same username on that site?) I think I"ll take all this info and see if I can start getting any reservation though - afraid everything will be booked! Let's see what I can get into and we'll go from there!

Any recommendations on getting a driver or if a balloon ride is worth it?


posted 10-07-2013 01:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Hiu again run,

If I had read your post on Trip Advisor before I replied below, I wouldn't have taken all the time that I did. Seems you have your itinerary pretty well worked out.



posted 10-07-2013 01:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Run,

Good to have you on the Board and Happy 15th Anniversary. We have celebrated many of our anniversaries there. Once you have been there, I guarantee you that you will want to return. Except for this year, we usually make it at least twice each year.

If you haven't found it yet, there is a good map of Napa Valley at http://napavalley.com/visitorsinfo/ then scroll down on the left and click on "printable Winery Map".

I agree with most of what Damombo said in her reply. You will have 3 days and you can make 4 to 5 wineries per day, depending on your stamina. Three is good, but in my opinion, 4 are better. We usually try and stay at the Stevenson Manor Best Western Inn in Calistoga. That way, we can go south on Hwy 29 or the Silverado Trail to the wineries, or north to the Healdsburg area.

From where you are staying, I would rule out Simi and Jordan. If there is a reason to go there, I would recommend that you drive up to Calistoga and go over the mountain on Hwy. 128 to Healdsburg. On the north edge of Calistoga, you will find Bennett Lane. In my opinion, the best $35.00 bottle of Cab blend in the valley. Then continue your drive to Healdsburg and make a stop at Hanna in the Alexander Valley (a stop just over the mountain on your right). They have nice wines and wonderful views. Then on toward Healdsburg and Simi is just on the outskirts. Then I would have lunch in Healdsburg where there are many eateries around the town square plus many tasting rooms. However, I would suggest forgoing a visit to the tasting rooms and go out on Dry Creek Road where you will find some of the best Zinfandel's around. At least visit Wilson and Mauritson.

In Napa, maybe spend a day up on Howell Mountain. Go up to Outpost, take a picnic lunch and eat it at Black Sears. Then on your way down, visit Spence, Ladera and maybe Burgess if you have time. Most of the above require an appointment.

You might spend another day around Napa and Yountville. On Big Ranch Road on the north edge of Napa, Visit Robert Biale for outstanding Zinfandel's. Then drive up Hwy 29 to Yountville. There are many tasting rooms in Yountville within walking distance, plus some very excellent restaurants for either lunch and dinner or both. Visit Cornerstone, Hope & Grace, Ma(i)sonry (appt needed), Jessup, and Girard who stays open until 7:00, I believe.

Then, just wing it for a day. Drive up Hwy 29 and pull off when you see a winery that interests you. On the map you will see if they require an appointment or not.

Have a great time and a great anniversary. And, most of all, be safe.



posted 10-07-2013 09:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for damombo   Click Here to Email damombo     Edit/Delete Message
Hi run,
First of all, Congratulations on your anniversary & good luck on the marathon! Both excellent accomplishments - and going to Wine Country is a great way to celebrate.

We stayed at the Westin for two nights a few years ago - it was very nice; no complaints that I remember. We just don't normally stay there because we find less expensive lodging - we find that we aren't in the hotel enough to bother with fancy But you are celebrating, so why not. You'll be able to walk to Oxbow Market from there, so that is a plus. Google Oxbow Market and see what there is to eat and do there...

We haven't been to Schramsberg, but I, too, hear good things about it. It would be a very different experience than Domaine Carneros. If you can book a tour, I think it would be worthwhile, and part of the joy of Napa Valley is the drive through gorgeous scenery.

Drive yourselves, just remember that you are wine TASTING and drink lots of water between wineries, also use the dump buckets or share tastings. If a wine isn't to your liking, it is perfectly acceptable to dump it out. Sharing is also perfectly fine.

Darioush - we felt completely looked down upon, but we were in our fifties when we visited. You are younger so they probably will find you acceptable to serve.
Sterling - the tram ride and view from the terrace are fun and gorgeous. The regular wines are just OK, but the reserve room has some good wines.
Opus One - could be worth a visit, I've just heard too many negative things about the snooty staff for us to bother.
Quintessa - no personal experience but I've heard nice things.

Opentable.com is a great place to secure dining reservations. Celadon and Tarla Grill in Napa are outstanding. Solbar in Calistoga is excellent. Hurley's & Bottega & Bistro Jeanty in Yountville are terrific. Farmstead in St. Helena is fantastic.

I've got to go - I'm actually in Napa and we have an appointment to get to! Start your planning and go have a wonderful trip!!



Junior Member
posted 10-06-2013 08:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for runforwine     Edit/Delete Message
I am just now planning our 1st Napa trip for Oct 24-27. Just realizing that I'm very late in doing this. We were able to get reservations at the Westin Verasa - which after reading these posts may not be ideal, but most everything was booked. I know some have stayed here - how'd you like it? I have SO MANY winery recommendations - will I be able to get reservations for tours and food or am I going to be too late?

Any feedback on the following wineries - Darioush
Opus One

I heard great things about Schramsberg because of the caves but seems very far away - should we just go to Domain Carneros for our sparkling instead? I've heard good things about Sterling (at least for the scenery), so maybe pair those together one day?

I assume the Silver Oak that people are referring to is the one in Napa not Sonoma?

We have 3 days - planning to spend most of the time in Napa, but seemed like Simi and Jordan might be worth making the trip to Sonoma for? Any other must-do's there?

What are the thoughts on getting a car and driver vs. just renting and driving ourselves?

All of your input is welcome!!! Thanks! Celebrating completing my first marathon (Oct 13 in Chicago) and our 15 year wedding anniversary!


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