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Brief tour of Napa Valley - suggestions for 1st timers?

Brief tour of Napa Valley - suggestions for 1st timers?

Nov 9th, 2008, 06:05 PM
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Brief tour of Napa Valley - suggestions for 1st timers?

We (two couples) will be visiting Napa Valley in early December. None of us have ever been and would appreciate suggestions of wineries to visit.

We are driving from San Francisco on a Friday morning and hope to arrive in the Napa area around 10:30. I thought we could stop for a tour and tasting at one winery that morning followed by lunch. After lunch we would check in to our hotel (Harvest Inn)in St. Helena. That afternoon we would rent a towncar for 4 hours of tastings. We have a 6:45pm dinner reservation that evening at the Martini House in St. Helena.

How many wineries (tastings, not tours)could we reasonably fit in a 4 hour afternoon? For our one morning tasting (and only tour)my husband is interested in Opus One. He likes this wine in particular, but is open to suggestions for touring a different winery. For the afternoon tastings I am considering Far Niente, Frog's Leap and Beringer. None of us are serious wine experts and would most enjoy a good overall experience for our first visit- beautiful wineries, with good wine.

Thanks for any advice!

kikianne is offline  
Nov 9th, 2008, 06:29 PM
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Last October, we took a tour and tasting at the new winery Castello di Amorosa in Napa Valley. They have built a beautiful castle.


The fee was $25 for the tour of the castle and the wine tasting. Rather expensive but you don't find free wine tasting at many wineries in Napa Valley now.

The Sterling Winery was interesting You take an aerial tramway to the top of the "mountain" or hill. The view was lovely but we didn't care for the wine. I see they now charge $20 for the tram ride and tasting.


There is a discount coupon at the website.
bratsandbeer is offline  
Nov 9th, 2008, 06:46 PM
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Thanks bratsand beer. Castello di Amorosa looks beautiful. I'd heard about the Sterling Winery with the tram, but I thought a visit there might take too much of our limited time. Thank you for the suggestions!
kikianne is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 10:15 AM
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For four hours, I would plan 2 or 3 places. Any more is too much for me. I start getting a buzz and then a headache. Of course, I'm a light weight and a cheap date!!

Good suggestions so far. There a no wrong choices.

MichelleY is online now  
Nov 10th, 2008, 10:26 AM
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We liked Robert Mondavi, Beringer, Sterling, and Niebaum-Coppola. Each one had something unique to offer. Mondavi let us go into the field to pick grapes and taste the different varieties. Beringer let us tour the caves. Sterling had the tram, and NC had all the movie memorabilia. I think you'd have time for about 3 spots. We're not big wine connoisseurs, but we had fun touring. If you have time the next morning, we did a hot air balloon flight that was wonderful.
volcanogirl is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 10:51 AM
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There are no wrong choices.

MichelleY is online now  
Nov 10th, 2008, 11:22 AM
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If you haven't made reservations yet, I'd suggest you get on it. Many of the wineries (especially popular ones) book their tours and tastings early.
lisettemac is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 11:46 AM
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Trefethen is an awesome place to visit. This is the best place to become a member of. Great parties, great wine and very knowledgable staff.
Beringers is great because it has an interesting history and is very beautiful.
Try some of the smaller boutique winerys for a more intimate experience. I like Folie à Deux Winery because it is good wine that is very affortable and doesnt take itself too seriously.
Chateau Montelena is worth seeing as it is so beautiful although I have never been on a tour.
Finally I would recommend looking at your local grocery store at price points you tend to buy and do some research on those winerys. I have bought way too many 100.00+ dollar bottles and still love my inexpensive bottle of Ménage à Trois red!
Have fun and my tip would be to pace yourself and be careful. You will be shocked at how quickly you start to feel the effects!
magialmemories is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 04:34 PM
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You could save the town car fee if one of you becomes the designated driver. You could also save some time by not checking in to the hotel first and have to backtrack to the wineries you want to visit in the afternoon. Also, unless you are only in interested in cabernet, a tour at some winery other than Opus might be more interesting since you want to do only one tour. And, bear in mind that most wineries close at 4pm in the winter.

Here's another scenario - you seem to be interested in high end wines. Take a tour at Robert Mondavi or Groth Vineyards (http://www.grothwines.com/">http://www.grothwines.com/ at 11 am. Then have lunch at Mustards followed by tastings at Opus One, Silver Oak, and Far Niente. All of these wineries are near each other in Oakville. Then, you will be checking into the Harvest Inn about 4:30.
Otis_B_Driftwood is offline  
Nov 10th, 2008, 08:42 PM
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\/ YEAH! What MichelleY said!
Kal is offline  
Nov 13th, 2008, 08:03 AM
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Thanks for all the great advice!

Here's my latest itinerary. I'd welcome any comments. Especially regarding the 3pm Silver Oaks visit. Does anyone else have another suggestion? (The other stops are wineries my husband specifically wants to stop by). I would prefer a winery in Oakville so we're not backtracking much.

11:00 Beringer Tour/Tasting

12:15pm lunch in St. Helena (Go Fish or another suggestion?)

1:30pm Check-in Harvest Inn St. Helena (really just time to drop our bags)

1:45pm limo pick-up

2:00pm reserved tasting at Opus One

3:00pm drop-in tasting at Silver Oaks

4:00pm drop-in tasting at Robert Mondavi

5:00pm drop-in tasting at Hall Winery (seems to be the most appealing choice open at that time - I'm not familiar with their wine)

5:45pm drop-off at hotel

7:45pm dinner at Martini House
kikianne is offline  
Nov 13th, 2008, 09:30 AM
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It also depends on if you just want to taste or do the tours. Opus One is quite pricey, btw. For Beringer head straight upstairs & skip the primary tasting room, all the good stuff is upstairs. Regusci is one of my personal favorites, but it may not mesh w/your plans. After Opus & Silver Oak, you are likely to be vastly disappointed w/Mondavi (& I'll save the jokes).
SAnParis2 is offline  
Nov 16th, 2008, 09:25 AM
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Go Fish is pretty good.
Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen is also a good lunch place not to mention Taylor's Refresher.

Any interest in the Rombauer Winery?
Excellent reds and a very good Charddy.
Kal is offline  
Nov 16th, 2008, 10:17 AM
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Rombauer Winery This is where my relatives end up buying their wine -that is after they have taken us on tours of other wineries.
bratsandbeer is offline  
Nov 17th, 2008, 11:01 PM
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Another winery to consider might be Peju in Rutherford. The gardens are lovely and the tasting room is friendly and fun. Their Cabernet is wonderful. They don't close until 6.

Also Freemark Abbey in St. Helena has excellent wines. I think they may close earlier, perhaps 4 or 4:30.
elnap29 is offline  
Nov 18th, 2008, 07:16 AM
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Kal is offline  
Nov 18th, 2008, 08:32 AM
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Thank you for the suggestions of Rombauer and Peju.

I had considered Peju for our 5pm visit, but had read very mixed reviews. Instead I chose Hall. Any votes on which is the better choice?
kikianne is offline  
Nov 18th, 2008, 08:35 AM
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I like Peju very much, I've never heard of Hall...
SAnParis2 is offline  
Nov 18th, 2008, 08:48 AM
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We did the Opus One tour last year and it was really lovely. We are in the area frequently for DH's business so we have done quite a few tours/tastings over the years and really loved this one. I think it is a do not miss.
als0107 is offline  
Nov 18th, 2008, 11:25 AM
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Peju is nice, we enjoyed our time there. The make a nice white called Carnival there. Freemark Abbey does some really nice white wines as well. Have fun! ***kim***
kimamom is offline  

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