Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page >

Critique my upcoming San Francisco/Napa Valley/Carmel plans....

Critique my upcoming San Francisco/Napa Valley/Carmel plans....

Nov 2nd, 2008, 08:33 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5,206
Critique my upcoming San Francisco/Napa Valley/Carmel plans....

I am putting the finishing touches on a trip to Napa/Carmel next week - we spend the weekend in San Francisco, where we have been several times - so right now we are spending Saturday with family about 35 miles out -

RESTAURANT SUGGESTIONS: for Friday and Saturday evening ? - preferably casual, since we will be eating and drinking enough in Napa and we have been in San Fran before

Sunday: We would leave San Fran by 10am and drive to Napa, where we are staying at Calistoga Ranch

I thought on the way we might have lunch at their sister resort, Auberge du Soleil - articles have mentioned the food as well as the view -

We want to be at Calistoga by 2pm, we have spa appointments and relaxing until dinner that evening at their property restaurant The Lakehouse

OTHER SUGGESTIONS? of where we should stop or eat on the way ?

MONDAY: We have a driver for the wineries:
I have on hold for us to visit the following wineries Darioush Winery- Regusci Winery-
Chappallet Vineyards- and Rubicon Estate

Lunch will be at Mustards.
Dinner will be at Terra Restaurant, St Helena

Walk thru Calistoga, visit Chateau Montelena,
relax on property

Lunch: no plans, bigger breakfast, small lunch - Dinner is at French Laundry

I have on hold for us to visit the following wineries: Schramsberg Winery- Larkmead Vineyards- Picnic lunch and tasting Saviez Winery-
Pride Mountain Vineyards- Barnett Vineyards-

Dinner: on property at Lakehouse Restaurant

**Other Wineries I'd had on my list were Quintessa, Opus One and Domain Chandon but they were moved for others - anyone want to convince me to include those or others instead of ones that were chosen?
I worked with the driver choosing them - provided him with a list of what I was looking for and some wish lis wineries - older properties, architecture, touring a vineyard, a wine cave, etc.....

We leave for Carmel -
SUGGESTIONS for any particular route?
I was thinking we'd head for the coast, and follow that down to Carmel - any particular DRIVING ROUTES ?

We are staying at L'Auberge Carmel -
We are eating one night at L'Auberge -
and the other was thinking of Casanova -

Thinking of walking Point Lobos and seeing Cannery Row (Scootoir trip report) and tea at Cypress Inn ( I think TTess had mentioned that one as well as some shops - but we only have ONE full day here - what do we really have time for?? and the next after breakfast head to my LA cousins for one night before flying home - so maybe a quick walk that morning -

So please throw any experiences, suggestions, ideas out there -

Thanks in advance !

escargot is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2008, 09:18 PM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 3,394
I've never stayed at Calistoga Ranch but have heard great things. My wife and I had a great dinner a few years back at Terra.
Lunch is a good choice at Auberge as I've heard the food has improved since we stayed there a few years ago. French Laundry should be a memorable meal as it was us.

I would skip the coastal route to Carmel and drive the faster inland route so you can spend more time there. We stayed at L'Auberge on our last visit to Carmel. It was nice but the first floor rooms were noisy so I highly recommend a second floor room. If you feel like driving 20 minutes, I highly recommend eating dinner at Marinus at the Bernardus Lodge. I would find time to drive 17 mile drive in Pebble Beach.

I don't know the faster coastal route from Calistoga to Carmel but you may want to ask the concierge at Calistoga Ranch for the quickest directions.
andrew8 is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2008, 10:54 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 9,285
I met a guy at the bar tonight here in Chicago who seemed to be quite the wine enthusiast (has an 800 bottle wine cooler at home) and he lived in SF for 8 years. I asked him which wineries he likes and I didn't recognize any of the names. Here are three that he mentioned that I can recall: Hall (he says their wines are amazing), Imagery and Hartwell vineyards. I don't know if the properties are noteworthy but their wines are. They are "boutique" wineries.

I personally found these wineries memorable: Hop Kiln, Matanzas Creek, and Kunde. I think Kunde may have a cave.

As far as dining, I've heard great things here about Cyrus which I think is in Napa. In SF, you could consider the Slanted Door or Fog City Diner. I like the Red Curry Mussel Stew at Fog City.
ncounty is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2008, 05:24 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5,206
Thank you both -
Andrew8 I will call today regarding that second floor room - and we are absolutely willing to drive 20 minutes for a great restaurant and tonight will look online at Marinus - would also drive to Pebble Beach / and will look at that online - would you suggest going for the views/ the drive/ the area/ anything special to do once we are there?

NCounty: Thanks for the San Fran suggestions, we've been to Slanted Door, but not the other, my husbands ears would perk at 'red mussel stew' so I'll look up their menu, etc -

Thanks for the other wineries, I'll check them out -
So far, I thought the driver came up with a good mix based on the requirement "wish list" I'd given him - I also didn't want to go to wineries where the price of a bottle was 150 plus - I enjoy wine, but I am not inclined to purchase bottles for even 100 plus for normal/ with weekly dinner consumption so that was also one of my requirements - if I get one of those special bottles, I have my few favorites.

I have been keeping track of the ones I looked at- and are so far on the list - it makes me DIZZY ! There are so many to choose from, so I have tried to think if we enjoy it we will return, otherwise, impossible to narrow it down - but thank you for your help and I am going to 'google' all of your suggestions tonight -

Thanks again -
escargot is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2008, 06:30 AM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 4,178
escargot - we were just in Napa - see my trip report (just click on my screen name). I really liked the tours for Castello di Amorosso (near Calistoga), Mumm and Schramsburg. We loved Go Fish in Napa, but only had lunch there.
Centralparkgirl is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2008, 07:57 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 1,485
Based on your 2nd post, I'd say you should skip Opus One (beautiful winery, but they are waaay too proud of that tasting) and be sure to keep Schramsburg -- it is a memorable tour.

In the city for dinner, I'd choose Kokkari, Piperade, Tadich (for something casual).
lisettemac is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2008, 10:27 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 4,640
Cyrus is in Healdsburg, a very nice place for a meal in the wine country, we have dined here twice now. You may want to consider Pacific's Edge @ the Highland's Inn for dinner, you will have beautiful coastal views from the dining room here. Terra is a nice choice in St. Helena for dinner. ***kim***
kimamom is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2008, 07:46 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5,206
Thank you all - and CentralParkGirl I loved your report - I am pouring over that now again, and all the other recs - lisettemac, I can't decide about Opus, someone told me today the setting is great/and the grounds - so maybe we should - someone else said a tad snotty - I happen to love their wine- it is one of our 'special occasion' wines - so ....another to ponder.

And a friend sent me an email with a list of six they loved, all ones I have yet to hear of or have anyone mention.

I just think at some point it makes me dizzy and tomorrow I will have to choose after all my reading and notes from this thread and looking at web sites and perhaps there are just so many great restaurants and wineries that we will need to visit Napa again and Sonoma another time.....

So, lots of work ahead tomorrow for me ! Thanks again
escargot is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2008, 08:04 PM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 3,394
When you pay the fee to enter 17 mile drive they will give you a map of the different interest points. I would say the best attraction on 17 mile drive is the Love Cypress Tree. My recent trip report shows pictures of me in the front of the Lone Cypress while I was kayaking.

I know you all would enjoy Marinus for dinner as I feel it's the best in the area plus it has a wine country feel to it because you're surrounded by their vineyards. My wife and I in the past enjoyed sitting at a corner table where we could view the sun coming down over the valley.

L'Auberge has a great location as it's a close walk to Carmel Beach and to the shops/restaurants.

Have a great trip !

andrew8 is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2008, 09:44 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 3,776
Auberge is beautiful - stayed there in April, and the food is excellent. I regretted not doing a champagne tasting at Krug...next time!
sheri_lp is offline  
Nov 4th, 2008, 04:57 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5,206
Thanks all -

Andrew: do you have a link to your trip report and photos-I would love to have them in the mix today when I try and sort a few more details out - after voting and working ! thanks -
escargot is offline  
Nov 4th, 2008, 07:15 AM
andrew8 is offline  
Nov 5th, 2008, 06:49 PM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 3,394
Hope you have a nice trip
andrew8 is offline  
Nov 5th, 2008, 07:38 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5,206
Andrew8: Thank you for posting the link - I have printed your report and have it spread out on my sunroom table along with my notes, vineyard recs, maps - and hope to finish it tomorrow and hope you and the others with such great recs will be around to give it a once over ! - great report and photos, btw.
escargot is offline  
Nov 5th, 2008, 08:00 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 17,106
Hi, escargot!

Where to dine in San Francisco: Wow! The choices are almost infinite! Could you mention type of cuisine, approximate price range, distance from your hotel? Anything to help narrow things down a bit? Thanks!

On winetasting: So much to write about, so little time!

It's a bit late, but here's a website to look into the best of 2008 wines:


Go to the bottom and click on "Medal Winners", then scroll halfway down that page and click on "Complete List of 2008 Medal Winners".

These are wines from around the world and not just from Napa valley. It'll give you an idea of which wineries scored well this year (you can also look into the winners for past years - if you care to do further research!)

For spectacular location, art and architecture: try Artesa

For art, try Clos Pegase, since you are going to Montelena anyhow

Was there a reason why you chose the vineyards on your list in particular? (Wish R5 would see this thread! She could give you great input!)

On driving from Calistoga to Carmel: head back towards San Francisco the same way you came, but once across the Golden Gate Bridge, continue on Highway 101/ Highway 1/19th Avenue through the city (Google this, it sounds more complicated than it looks. It's just a straight shot through the city and then out along the coast). Continue on Highway 1 to Carmel, you'll be along the ocean all the way. Much more relaxing drive than fighting through all the busy freeways.

Have a great trip!

easytraveler is offline  
Nov 6th, 2008, 05:35 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5,206
Easytraveler: Thanks for the driving trips - I am hoping to put this all together in the next few days, - it is just so annoying - work actually keeps getting in the way !

The list for visiting wineries came from our driver,George, who is not with a company but on his own - he has been doing it a long time - I know 4 or 5 friends who have used him from the east coast and one whose company uses him all the time-

Knowing there were at least 50 wineries we had on a list (from recommendations from other people: everyone has their personal favorite for wine, architecture, gardens, art, etc) -

We also had the recommendation list from Calistoga Ranch where we are staying -

We gave both those lists to him and told him what we wanted: a range - older, newer, different architecture, small tours with no more than 2-8 people, people interested in conversing with us - and we are not connoisseurs but just enjoy nice wine - about the process, their vineyard, etc - to eat at one - (where he has arranged a gourmet picnic) - to get on a vineyard or two and in a cave, etc -

So that is how he came up with that list -some are private tours with the owner or in member's rooms, VIP tastings - some are with small groups.

My head is literally spinning with all the options and all the restaurants too - and now I am narrowing things down ....so I don't gain 100 lbs !
escargot is offline  
Nov 6th, 2008, 05:36 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5,206
easy: and thanks for all the other info, I will look at the lists !
escargot is offline  
Nov 6th, 2008, 02:03 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,857
Two restaurants for you to consider in Calistoga
Delicious, well thought out small plates and a good wine list.

You might also want to consider
Solbar at Solage
a short (2 minute) ride from Calistoga's downtown proper, over on the Silverado Trail.

Wineries nearby that we enjoy
are August Briggs, Twomey, and Frank Family.

For lunch or dinner we love
Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena -
Terra has been great in the past,
but now I feel it has stumbled of late. I think it might be fun to mix in Ad Hoc or Bistro Jeanty
down in Yountville.

There are some absolutely, positively, fantastic restaurants
in Napa town now -would you consider
traveling there to dine ?


razzledazzle is offline  
Nov 6th, 2008, 02:42 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 5,206
R4: My cousin, who had a winery years and years ago in Napa for a short time, also recommended Frank Family - and Bistro Jeanty and Backstreet Kitchen -

I am working on this tonight and tomorrow -

it is appearing I need two - three weeks in Napa and to fast for a week before I go !!

Thanks for all those recs - yes, we would drive to dinner - or have a driver - we are going to eat at the lakehouse too, - I am working on my proposed final itierary now - and will definitely post for you to add new ideas and tweak, but for now I've got to narrow down at least some things !
escargot is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:55 AM.