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Author Topic:   First Timers to Wine Country
posted 10-27-2011 06:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Well Auggie I am so glad that you were able to get tickets for WAFA as I've been told it often sells out months in advance.We like Alexander Valley Vineyards a bunch and I think you have chosen a great place to start because they don't get a whole lot of press and Alexander Valley isn't a place that people seem to gravitate toward too much...not like Dry Creek and Sonoma valley, anyway.
If Fieldstone is participating, stop in there and enjoy some of their wines- theirs was the first Petite Sirah that we ever actually enjoyed enough to finish the pour, and the only one we've ever purchased.
I'm glad that you can just enjoy the flow of things for your trip...its the best way to visit wine country...too much planning spoils things! ( Of course I plan it to death but rarely follow the plan cuz something great always seems to come up!)
Hope you have an awesome time! Please report back when you return.


Junior Member
posted 10-27-2011 03:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Auggie   Click Here to Email Auggie     Edit/Delete Message
Yesilovewine, thanks so much for the suggestions. my wife and i have signed up for the wine and food affair. we start at Alexander Valley Vineyards. from there we're going to try and hit a few of our favorites. we're hoping to get 5-6 tastings in on sat and sun, but i know how crowded it will be so that might be wishful thinking. Mon - Thurs we have one tour reserved for each day and then several tastings. we're also going to calistoga for an afternoon. i'm going to check out the Drink Dry Creek blog and see what that's about. We're going to be out there for a week so i'm sure whatever we do will be fun. stress free and go with the "flow" is our motto! thanks again


posted 10-19-2011 05:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Forgot to mention before that much of northern Sonoma County will be participating in the Wine and Food Affair event, so if you are thinking to "do" Sonoma at the beginning of your trip you will certainly need to get tickets for the event soon as participating wineries are closed to the general public during that time. Though I haven't checked for this year, in the past a list of participants could be found at www.wineroad.com; not all wineries take part in the event, but a large number do, so you'll want to see who may be open if you aren't able to secure tickets. Or just plan Sonoma at the other end of the visit.


posted 10-17-2011 01:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Auggie and welcome!
I will leave the Napa part of your question to those folk- I hope you posted over there as well.
From my point of view ( wine lover and "get there as often as possible" visitor) you have lots of options with a 4-day period to work with. Before making suggestions about wineries, I'd like to propose that you see what's going on in the area during your visit...I think that its a shame to miss out on a great event when they're available and I THINK that your visit may coincide with one of the Wine Road's premier events that accents food AND wine. The name is A Wine and Food Affair, at least I think that's it and details can be found on wineroad.com, as they sponsor it.
The next thing I'd suggest is that you read the blog: "Drink Dry Creek" to get a feel from a local fellow about the wine and wineries of the area. I like the way he reviews tasting rooms AND wines in the area- but it is pretty specific to Dry Creek.
We like to drive ourselves when we visit just because it allows us to be totally spontaneous. Its not uncommon for us to make unplanned stops at places we happen on along the way from one place to another. That style of vacation doesn't suit everyone though.
Just be sure to have a good map at hand as you work on your plan. It will prevent you from hopscotching all over the county. I like the ones at wineroad.com because they
are easy to read and print. I also like the interactive maps on winecountrygetaways.com for planning purposes.
Our sponsor site here has some great articles about visiting the area and including "other than wine" activities like the farm trails and hiking. Check the "things to do" tab for some ideas.
Since its an anniversary trip, the Wine Carraige tour in Alexander Valley might be fun if the weather is good- a horse-drawn carraige ride through the vineyards...!
If you are going to be in Healdsburg for your anniversary, I would recommend Dry Creek Kitchen for that special dinner. We have not eaten there but friends have and they loved it.
Since this is so long, I'll quit before you get too bored, but if you want something more specific I'll try to help.
I just received notice about Wine and Food Affair- the it does look to be in your time frame. You should really check that out

[This message has been edited by yesilovewine (edited 10-18-2011).]


Junior Member
posted 10-17-2011 09:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Auggie   Click Here to Email Auggie     Edit/Delete Message
My wife and i are celebrating our 30th anniversary and heading to Napa / Sonoma Valley for some serious R&R! Although we've been there once before, it was only for a few days. We'll be there for 7 days and we're looking for some tips from the pros on how to best tour "wine country". We're staying in St. Helena for 3 nights and then in Healdsburg for 4 nights. We enjoy both red and white, so we're wide open for suggestions. Should we make reservations, should be book a tour, should we just get in our car and see where it takes out???? We'll be there from 11/4 - 11/11. Looking for good suggestions for wine touring and dinners. Thanks - Auggie!


posted 07-08-2011 02:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for damombo   Click Here to Email damombo     Edit/Delete Message
Hi y'all!
lcv, I enjoyed reading your honeymoon report
Sounds like a fantastic trip and lots of wonderful memories made...
I like your style, lcv - joining clubs right and left! During the summer, I kinda forget how many we belong to - then shipping season arrives and the UPS man is always at the door
It is interesting how the atmosphere in a tasting room can really effect how one enjoys the wines. And how sometimes you think a wine is very nice - but a month later you open a bottle and say "What were we thinking?" Or vice versa - only get one, just to find out that it is case-worthy.
Ah, the mysteries of life and wine - isn't it grand?


posted 07-08-2011 11:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Hi lcv,

Thanks for the great report. What a great way to begin your marriage with all that wine. We will be celebrating our 54th in August this year but won't celebrate until late October when we go to, yep . . . Napa Valley.

Your report just emphasizes the difference in palates. I believe that Mauritson and Wilson have incredible wines . . . they certainly win enough awards. Mauritson's Rockpile Vineyard flight of Zin is incredible. I agree that they could use some help in their tasting room because it is always crowded. In fact, we used to belong to their wine club and dropped them because when we went to taste as a club member, we were thrown in with all the other crazies and had to fight for a spot at the bar. If you belong to their club, you should be treated better than that.

I have not been to the Santa Rosa Paradise Ridge winery which comes highly recommended for its views, but have visited the one in Kenwood and found their wines to be very good. Again, different palate?

I am glad you got to Williamson and had the opportunity to meet Bill. He can be quite a charmer . . . and . . . their wines are not bad either.

Good report, thanks.



Junior Member
posted 07-08-2011 09:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for lcv915   Click Here to Email lcv915     Edit/Delete Message
Although we took our trip in mid-May, I'm only now getting around to writing about it. Sorry for the delay but life definitely got away from me...

Day 1
From SFO, we drove directly to the Viansa Winery in Sonoma; a very nice introduction to Wine Country. The views were amazing and we enjoyed having lunch on their patio. We liked every red we tasted and, novices that we are, were quick to join their "4 bottles of red every-other-month" club (esp since we can cancel at any time). We didn't bring any home so, it'll be interesting to see if we still like them as much as we did that first day. A really good first stop!

Our second stop was Paradise Ridge in Santa Rosa. Although the views were spectacular and the tasting room spacious, it all felt a bit sterile. All in all, we just weren't fans of this place; could be because it was raining and we were the only ones there...could be because the server wasn't in the mood to chat...could be because we simply didn't like any of the wine. But, this isn't one I'd return to.

Just to prove the rain wasn't the only thing that influenced our impression of the previous stop, we visited Seghesio during an absolute downpour - and we loved it! The tasting room was crowded but everyone was in good humor. We really enjoyed seeing all the barrels behind the tasting bar; great atmospere, fun staff. Christina was our server and she clearly enjoys her job - enthusiastic and eager to educate us. I'll share my notes ver batim here: Pinot Grigio smells like urine; tastes marginally better than it smells. Costiera Pinot Noir - I like it less than Joe; rose-petals, smoky, bold but smooth. Old Vine Carignane - not fans; soft, acidic finish, bland. Cortina Zinfandel 2008 - liked it; spicy, peppery. Home Ranch Zinfandel 2009 - loved it; smoother than the Cortina (brought a bottle home). Rockpile Zin, new release - sharper; enjoyed this one, too. Aglianico 2005 - "Italy's Cab" - smooth, tannic, dark fruit, floral nose; we enjoyed it very much and brought home a bottle. But, I must say, we had that bottle last week and both wondered, "What were we thinking?" when we drank it. Just goes to show we don't even agree with ourselves sometime! All in all, we enjoyed this cozy den of a tasting room; a great place to spend a rainy evening!

We ended our first day at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery. We enjoyed walking around and taking in all the movie memorabilia. Our server was friendly and the tasting room was quiet and low-key. We opted for their "Neighbors Tasting" and found that we didn't really care for the Director's Cut Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. We did, however, like the Reserve Knight's Valley Cab 2007 and the Reserve Dry Creek Valley Syrah 2008. None of the wines, here, really grabbed us, though. Rustic for dinner, on the other hand, was absolutely wonderful - incredible flavors, relaxed atmosphere, fabulous dinner.

Day 2
Still raining, our first stop was Dry Creek Vineyard. We really enjoyed their cozy, nautical-themed tasting room and John Manning had us tasting everything there! We both turned our noses up at the 2009 Dry Chenin Blanc. Just plain yuck, imho. My favorite was the 2008 DCV10 Pinot Noir (fruit forward, earthy, silky smooth). We both enjoyed the 2008 Meritage, the Somer's Ranch Zin, and Spencer's Hill Zin. We didn't really care for The Mariner 2006 - just too acidic and dry for our taste. But, before we left, we made sure to ask about the 2010 Fume Blanc (at yesilovewine's suggestion). It was outstanding; simple and crisp. We had been looking for a nice white to have on hand, and this one is ideal. We also bought a bottle of 2010 Sauv Blanc and enjoyed that with a friend the other night. In fact, we enjoyed so many of the wines and found the price point comfortable, so we joined one of their clubs, too.

Eventually, we walked across the street to Passalacqua. This was one of my very favorite wineries. We had the tasting room, and Stephanie, to ourselves and thoroughly enjoyed them both. The views were spectacular (we enjoyed our picnic lunch on their veranda during a lull in the rain, after we finished tasting). Stephanie spent quite a bit of time educating us and poured quite a bit of wine as our morning progressed. Every wine we tasted here was amazing. What I liked best: 2008 Zin from the Bevill Heirloom Vineyard, 2007 Zinfandel, 2008 Estate Zinfandel, ande the 2008 Maple Vineyard Zin. We brought home a bottle of the Radici Della Famiglia Sangiovese/Cab and joined this club, too (3 clubs after visiting only 6 wineries? Yeah - we were having fun...and we're determined to keep on having it)!

Next, we stopped at Mauritson Wines; not a place I'd return to. The tasting room was rather dull - had a "store-front" feel to it; Mandy seemed a bit aloof, and the wines, for the most part, didn't strike our fancy. We liked the 2007 Rockpile "Buck Pasture" Red Wine and bought a bottle of the 2008 Rockpile "Independence" Red Wine (port)...but, that's pretty much all we liked.

We then went down the road to Wilson - Maybe we were just wined out by this point. They have a friendly staff and cozy tasting room. We even played with their dog, Molly, for a while. But, we just weren't all that impressed with the wine. That said, though, we bought a bottle of 2008 Tori's Vineyard Reserve Zin to bring home. We had it the other night and we both absolutely amazed; thoroughly enjoyed it. Wish I had bought a case of it, in fact! After Wilson, we went back to the hotel and made the mistake of lying down just for a minute...yeah, right!

Joe would have been content to call it a day right then and there but - I dragged him out to one of the "I'm not gonna miss this one!" wineries on my list: Williamson. What a lovely evening that turned out to be. We tasted the Pinot Noir 2009, Merlot 2007, Meritage 2007, Melange 2007, Cuvee 2007, Cab 2008, Cab 2007 (which was my favorite of the evening), and Shiraz Cab 2008. We had a very nice visit with Bill Williamson and couldn't help ourselves -- we bought three bottles and signed on for another wine (and cheese) club. We so enjoyed having the food samplings along with our wine; gave the wines a whole new flavor. Bill sent us over to the Dry Creek Kitchen w/his card. Apparently, the winery and restaurant enjoy a nice relationship and we were greeted with a glass of wine and an incredible dinner. I'm so glad I nagged Joe to get out of bed and try "just one more." Because, in the years ahead, whenever I reflect on "good times," I will recall that entire evening...

I'll head over to the Napa board, now, to finish up with Days 3-5!


posted 03-31-2011 08:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Good Morning!
So glad you can extend your time in Sonoma!
I haven't been to Martin Ray, but we love Paradise Ridge- both the wines and the facilities.
The main place is in the hills outside of Santa Rosa. You drive through a business park and residential area to get there. And on the map it looks like a "skip it" place, but what the map doesn't show is that from this place on the hill you have a sweeping view of the valley below. On a clear day the sunset is unbelieveable! They have dedicated days for sunset watching!!
The grounds were at one time a commune, and one of the members was an artist so there is a scultpure garden on the property that's pretty cool...you will pass the pieces on the way up to the tasting room.
Hawkeye just came back and went to the Kenwood tasting room, so he can give you more details than I; it had only been open a few days- maybe a week- when we were there and so its changed quite a bit. Its a cute place next to a shopping strip-mall and the Caton/Muscardini tasting room is across the parking lot if you want to try them.
PR has an array of wines that we like and we were club members for a few years. Their Rockpile location wines- labelled under "Elevation" are great as is the Hoensselar Vineyard "The Posse"- a red blend.
Regarding the gargantuan appetites...I relied on the crock pot back in those days- fix it and forget it! And they make them so big now you may even have leftovers!

[This message has been edited by yesilovewine (edited 03-31-2011).]


Junior Member
posted 03-31-2011 05:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for lcv915   Click Here to Email lcv915     Edit/Delete Message
Wow. What wonderful advice! Thank you all!

If it weren't so true, I'd still be laughing over my need for more than a glass of wine. The kids all get along well; I'm the one having trouble adapting the most. That's a lot of people to cook for! And, since I'm a vegetarian, Joe's boys (a teenager and a 22 year old) look at my dinners as "appetizers" and keep waiting for the real food to arrive! Major change from feeding two small girls...

That said, yes - I drink a lot of wine. :-)
And, over a glass last night, we decided to extend our stay in Sonoma! So, we're now looking at arriving Monday, noon, staying 2 nights at the Dry Creek Inn, then driving through the Alexander Valley to Calistoga on Wed morning (where we'll also stay 2 nights).

We're talking about adding Martin Ray to the first day's itinerary. What do you all think of that winery? Worth a visit? I also see, now, that there are two Paradise Ridge wineries: Hwy 12 and 101. Can you recommend one over the other?

I am eagerly noting all your suggestions. Truly appreciated!


posted 03-30-2011 04:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
You could stop at Trentadue and see what designs they offer in their etched bottles and have a special one engraved.
-To be honest, Trentadue and I have some issues, but its the only place I know in the upper county that does the etched bottles. St. Francis does them ( Sonoma Valley) and probably other wineries do to; ask if you find a special bottle that you would like to have as a keepsake.
They really are VERY cool...we have given them as gifts for different occasions and actually are ordering one from St. Francis for an upcoming wedding. You, seriously, should check them out. If you can't find another venue that does it, on the way back to SF take a side jaunt up to St. Francis and ask to see the ones in the members' tasting room. Those Christmas ones will blow you away!

[This message has been edited by yesilovewine (edited 03-30-2011).]


posted 03-30-2011 03:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
I am with yesilovewine on the burgers and fries although, Mrs. Hawkeye has forbidden me to eat fries, seems to thin I am getting to large. Most of the time I will select a mid range priced restaurant over a high priced one, that way I save my money to spend on wine to ship home. Yes, you need to select some bottles to ship home to help remember the good times when the 5 kids get under your skin. Now would be a good time to pick one bottle of wine that you normally wouldn't consider purchasing because4 of the price point to lay down for your first anniversary. That will help you remember the good times.

Select your wine to ship home in the 12 bottle numbers range and on the way out of town in Napa, stop at Buffalo Shipping and have them ship your purchases home. I know you will taste some awesome wines. Cheers.


posted 03-30-2011 02:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Well, I thought Hawkeye would never find his way over here, but as usual it was worth the wait; he's better at the details than I. And damambo is the foodie so I knew she would help out with your meals; I'm a burger and fries kinda gal...
I think that you should reaarrange your order of visits a bit from what you've said so far.
I was thinking that you would go up 101 to Santa Rosa and hop off to see Paradise Ridge, then get back on 101 and continue on.You will actually go right by your hotel and Healdsburg on the way to Wilson, Mauritson and Passalaqua ( you come upon them in that order from that direction); Dry Creek Kitchen is in Healdsburg and Dry Creek Grocery is at the point where Lambert Bridge Road ( where you turn to go to Passalaqua)"T"'s into Dry Creek Road...you could visit either for supplies for your lunch. Right across the street from Passalaqua is Dry Creek Vineyard and they make a VERY nice red blend called The Mariner and are known for their excellent Fume Blanc. It is worth stopping if you feel you have time.
So, that would put you with Paradise Ridge, Wilson, Mauritson, Passalaqua. THEN I would head to Coppola- it will be getting on in the evening you might consider dining there, or not - then to Healdsburg for Seghesio if they are still open and Williamson. Since Williamson serves small bites with their tastings, you could consider that your appetizer course and plan dinner for afterward. OR, you could arrange to particpate in the Family Table program at Segheiso and dine there. I don't know what they are currently serving for that- it was pizza at one time, and that could be a bit anti-climactic all things considered, but maybe it would be just the thing after a full day of travel and a good bit of tasting.
If you miss Seghesio the first night, you can always stop in on your way out of town on Tuesday.


posted 03-30-2011 01:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for damombo   Click Here to Email damombo     Edit/Delete Message
Icv - Willi's Tapas in Healdsburg is wonderful and Divine Affair is (in my opinion) AMAZING and honeymoon-worthy.

Well there are actually lots of great restaurants in the area - go to OpenTable.com, San Francisco, then Wine Country and Healdsburg, then look at all of the restaurants and go to their websites to see the menus. Then you will have the problem of deciding which fabulous place to choose!


posted 03-30-2011 01:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkeye   Click Here to Email Hawkeye     Edit/Delete Message
Hi lcv,

Congratulations! Your wedding sounds fun. Five kids? . . . I guess you need more than one glass of wine.

You have received some good advice so far. Maybe I can add to it or reinforce what has already been stated.

You need to throw out the distance issue, nothing is very far apart in Sonoma County. First, go here for a map of the area http://www.sonoma.com/visitorsinfo/Sonoma_County_Winery_Map.pdf I enlarge it to 127% and it is quite easy to read.

If you are going to stop at Paradise Ridge in Santa Rosa, I assume you will be traveling Hwy 12. If you find you have some extra time, there are several fine wineries along here.

Now, when you get back on Hwy 101 to go to Healdsburg, you will exit the Dry Creek Road exit and the Dry Creek Best Western Inn will be right there. You are probably 5 minutes from downtown Healdsburg.

From the hotel, it is probably 8 minutes to Wilson, where I would start. They have many award winning Zins plus they have a very nice picnic patio overlooking the vineyards (an alternate for a picnic).

Then the next would be Mauritson. Ask if they are still doing their flight tasting of Rockpile Zinfandels . . . WOW!

Next would be Passalaqua. The have a very good selection of several different varietals but if they have it, try their Maple Vineyard Zin.

From there you can check in at your hotel, or if you have a little extra time, just stop in at one of the wineries along the road. Remember, most will close their tasting rooms about 4:30 or 5:00.

After checking in, drive 5 minutes to downtown Healdsburg for dinner. You may want to stop at the Williamson tasting room before dinner as they stay open until 7:00. If you want a special dinner, try Charlie Parker's Dry Creek Kitchen in downtown Healdsburg. If you don't want to eat that high on the hog, there are many other options around the square.

The next morning, head over Hwy 128 through the Alexander Valley and stop at Stryker, Hawkes, and don't miss the views from the deck at Hannah . . . fabulous.

Just before getting into Calsitoga, you will come to Bennett Lane Winey. Definitely worth a taste. They have a Cab blend called Maximus which is about as good as you will get for the price point of $35.00.

Now, I will watch the Napa Board. Tell us when you plan to get there and when you will need to leave. That will help us with your planning. Cheers!

[This message has been edited by Hawkeye (edited 03-30-2011).]

[This message has been edited by Hawkeye (edited 03-30-2011).]


Junior Member
posted 03-30-2011 11:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for lcv915   Click Here to Email lcv915     Edit/Delete Message
oh! Forgot to say, yesilovewine, this is a second marriage for both of us. We are pleased to be doing it exactly the way we want...in our backyard with our 5 kids and 40 of our closest family and friends. An afternoon party with a ceremony thrown in for good measure. Mexican food, Dogfishhead beer, homemade blackberry/pomegranate sangria, and margaritas. Just our style! The fact that we're finishing it off with a trip to SF and Wine Country puts us on a quick road to contentment! :-)


Junior Member
posted 03-30-2011 11:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for lcv915   Click Here to Email lcv915     Edit/Delete Message
You've been so helpful, both of you!

Yesilove - if we can fit Mauritson in, too, we will. But, I'm definitely loving your Alexander Valley tips and will plan on hitting at least two of them on Tuesday morning!

Damombo - I appreciate your thoughts on FFCoppola's...we'll keep it on our itinerary! I also appreciate the 45-60 min/winery guestimate. That makes planning a bit easier.

Here's my revised Day 1:

arrive SFO 9:30am
Paradise Ridge, Santa Rosa
picnic supplies at Dry Creek Kitchen
Passalaqua (and picnic there)
Francis Ford Coppola
check into Dry Creek Inn
then, find dinner near the hotel!

Day 2, we'll hit both Stryker and Hawkes on the way to Sterling Vineyards in Calistoga before checking into the Stevenson Manor Best Western there.

I suppose, at this point, I need to start chatting on the Napa forum for pointers on the rest of that day, Day 3, and Day 4!

You were both so helpful in helping me wrap my head around the first day and a half. THANK YOU!


posted 03-30-2011 09:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
OOOOHHHH! Yeah, I'd say that was a bit more than a minor detail you left out!!
So this is a great plan for a red wine person.
Damambo is right about the map- its really so helpful to have a reference point when you are trying to figure out where to go. If you have time, order the visitor's map from www.sonomacounty.com. It has great information aside from the map and comes with a little booklet that has great ideas.
If not, try the trip planner on the wine country getaways site- its a little cumbersome to locate some of the wineries that are really close together, but in your printout it gives you directions from place to place along with a route map.
Since your plan is to stay in Calistoga after Healdsburg, then I would recommend that you visit some Alexander Valley wineries on that transition day. Hawkes, Robert Young, Stryker, Alexander Valley Vineyards all make good reds and would be on the way.
Since you are staying in Healdsburg, Seghesio is a must visit in my opinion. Their Rockpile Zin is fantastic and they make a very good Italian white that I can never remember the name of...starts with "F" I think.
Also, don't forget that there are many tasting rooms right in town in Healdsburg. Check out some of the articles on things to do and food and wine tabs on the wine country website for reviews and suggestions.


posted 03-30-2011 09:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for damombo   Click Here to Email damombo     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Icv - yep, we have enjoyed our visits to Coppola. Rustic, the restaurant is wonderful and the movie memorabilia is fun at least once We are fans of the Director's Cut series of wines, especially the Zin and the Chard. I think it's worth a visit at least once, then you can decide if it's your cup o'tea or glass o'wine... If you do decide to do lunch there, I'd go on OpenTable.com and make a reservation. (The view from the restaurant patio is lovely)

Yes, planning can be daunting, but if you have a map in front of you to see the miles between each of your preferred stops, and guestimate the time driving, that helps to structure an itinerary. I usually plan on 45 minutes to an hour at the places we stop - if we finish quicker, then it just makes for a relaxed visit instead of a hurried rush! I think Hawkeye says that he has appointments mixed with non-appointment places so that the day can unfold without worries.


[This message has been edited by damombo (edited 03-30-2011).]


Junior Member
posted 03-30-2011 08:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for lcv915   Click Here to Email lcv915     Edit/Delete Message
Thanks so much! I figure, if I do all my stressing in the planning stages I can relax and enjoy it afterward. I guess I failed to mention this will be our honeymoon so, I've got a few other things to plan, too! :-)

We will fly into SFO on Monday morning and should be on the road (rental car) around 10am. We're not sure if we should head to Sonoma or Napa first, seeing as we won't get to Wine Country until about 11:30 on Monday and we have to leave around 2pm Thursday.

At the moment, I'm thinking we'll start in Sonoma. I'm not Coppola (or movies, in general!) fan, myself, so that's not a factor. We're in it for the zins, the cabs, and the relaxed atmospheres and views. If Coppola doesn't fit the bill, we can lose it.

We'll likely stay at Dry Creek Inn for one night (and Stevenson Manor in Calistoga for two nights).


posted 03-30-2011 08:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for yesilovewine     Edit/Delete Message
Welcome lcv! Relax! You are doing great and if you get too wound up now you will be too exhausted to enjoy the trip.
First- all of these would fit into a single day visit nicely. Wilson and Passalaqua are quite near one another, Healdsburg and Williamson are between those 2 and Coppola's, so you're good there.
I think that you would be doing yourself a favor if you would go to the wine road's website and take a look at their maps for Healdsburg and Dry Creek. It will help you visualize locations and give you perspective on distances. Print them out so you have a hard copy.
Now, when you say 'a day', is that a full day as in staying over, or a daytrip from another location? If staying over, are you going to be in Healdsburg?
It looks like you might be zin fans given the wineries you want to visit. If that's the case, then you will probably want to add Mauritson, which is about 1/2 way between Wilson and Passalaqua and easily addable.
You could do Wilson, Mauritson, grab lunch/picnic supplies at Dry Creek Kitchen then go to Passalaqua and have lunch on their patio after doing the flights there. (Be sure to try the Maple Vineyard ZIN....yum bunnies!)
Regarding Coppola, it was still being renovated when we were there and our experience was WAY less than stellar. Current reviews I have read have been very positive and with the added bonus of an on-site restaurant its been a big hit. damambo has been there, so I hope she will give you a first-hand review of it. I'm not a huge Coppola movie fan, so I am not terribly anxious to go there again, but as Hawkeye reminds us, everyone's tastes are different so you just might love it.
The one thing of Coppola's that I know we really like is the Director's Cut wines, and I have trouble getting them here, so I may go back just to get access to those.


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posted 03-30-2011 08:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for lcv915   Click Here to Email lcv915     Edit/Delete Message
My husband and I are planning a one-day visit to Sonoma (and 2 in Napa) and need some advice! We are red wine lovers and trying to plan this trip is daunting. It's difficult to focus!

Someone suggested we see Francis Ford Coppola's winery in Geyserville. Would you all recommend that, as well? I've read great things about the Wilson, Passalacqua and Williamson Wineries, too. But, are those all too far apart from each other?

Are there others you'd suggest?


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