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How/Where to spend a few days in CA wine country

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Dec 28th, 2012, 06:10 PM
  #1
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How/Where to spend a few days in CA wine country

Vague, I know, but I have to start somewhere.

We'll be traveling from Perth, Australia to the US in March, primarily to visit family in CO.

Because it's a lengthy trip, because we'll probably be flying into SFO and because we both love wine, it seems a good opportunity to visit CA wine country.

I've been to Napa once, years ago, but spouse has not. We're both relatively unfamiliar with CA wines (shocking, I know).

Looking for suggestions on where to stay (town and/ or specific accommodation), wineries not to miss, things to see and do, pretty drives, etc. Vague, yes, but I'm open to all suggestions at this point.

As far as wine goes, we both love a good Pinot Noir and a nice Syrah (known as Shiraz down this way) is always appreciated.
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Dec 28th, 2012, 07:54 PM
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Coming all the way from Australia, I think it's worth the splurge to stay at Auberge du Soleil which is pretty much the best of the best located just north of Napa:

http://www.aubergedusoleil.com/

I found so many beautiful spots to explore - up to Calistoga, Healdsburg, even the town of Petaluma. I think you'd find a beautiful road no matter where you go. Weather is a bit changeable, but you could get lucky with some warm days. It's a lovely area.
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Dec 28th, 2012, 09:03 PM
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Thanks sheri_lp, but waaay beyond our budget ($625-$5,050 a night, holy moly). We do have to pay for the flights afterall

I'm thinking more in the $200 or less per night range.

I'll look at the town you mention though, thanks.
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Dec 28th, 2012, 09:35 PM
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We stayed in Healdsburg, which was a very cute town with nice town square and downtown and lots of great restaurants. We stayed at a wonderful bed and breakfast that did NOT break the bank! It was the Haydon Street Inn. Victorian looking house with wrap-around porch. Innkeepers made pizza in their outdoor pizza oven for the guests when we were there. We walked downtown. They can give you lots of advice on the wineries, and the breakfast was superb. Have fun!
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Dec 28th, 2012, 09:43 PM
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Yes, definitely consider Healdsburg - it is in a very good location and has lots of options.

What is your budget? (I gasped too when I saw the suggestion of Auberge du Soleil . . . not in my lifetime )
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Dec 28th, 2012, 09:54 PM
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Will definitely look at Healdsburg, although after a bit of research Calistoga looks promising and I've found a few reasonable places to stay with good reviews in the $130-160 range, which is more our style.

Off to Google Healdsburg and Haydon St Inn, thanks.
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Dec 28th, 2012, 09:56 PM
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I also think Healdsburg is a great place. I have heard its spendy but have heard there is a Best Western there that is reasonable. We recently stayed in Santa Rosa at the Hilton Wine Country- it was very nice, under $200 but we had a group rate and I think it was a nice central location- although Healdsburg would be a preference. I like the Sonoma area better than the Napa area- seems more low key, don't charge as much for tastings.

The wineries I liked best were Kunde and Martinelli ( you may have to make special arrangements for tasting at Martinilli- not sure. )

Dining- we had dinner at the Girl and the Fig- highly recommended.
The Santa Rosa Hilton is nice but a bit isolated- can't walk to restaurants, shops etc. Healdsburg is more walkable- could have spent much more time there.

Loved the whole Sonoma area
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Dec 28th, 2012, 09:58 PM
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Haydon Street Inn looks very promising, thanks leslieq.
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Dec 28th, 2012, 10:05 PM
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I'm suddenly spoiled for choice and already wanting to add a few days!
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Dec 28th, 2012, 10:42 PM
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There is much to see in the area so understand you considering adding more days. We spent 4 days wine tasting and visiting other areas- nice day spent at Bodega Bay .

We then moved on to Carmel and Monterey- so much to see there too - 17 mile drive, Big Sur-
we were there in Nov and were fortunate to have fabulous weather as well as scenery
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Dec 28th, 2012, 11:24 PM
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The Napa Valley has turned into a giant tourist trap, with overpriced wine tasting and very expensive restaurants.

Another option is to look at the entire Sonoma Valley (it's also closer to SFO than Napa).

My view is that the entire Healsburg area has gone the old "yuppified" route and a lot of things are overpriced.

I prefer the town of Sonoma and the Valley of the Moon. Last year we stayed in Glen Ellen, at the Glen Ellen Inn, a nice funky town about 10 miles from Sonoma town.

Below are several links to either help you or totally confuse you.

http://www.sonomacounty.com/?gclid=C...Fal_Qgodw2IA3Q

http://www.sonoma.com/

http://www.sonomawine.com/visit-our-...ma-county-maps

http://www.winecountryinns.com/sonoma_county_map.html
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Dec 29th, 2012, 12:14 AM
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Wow, confuse me is right. Thanks for all the ideas and suggestions though, I've got my work cut out for me.

We'd prefer unpretentious, if that's even possible. We've gotten accustomed to the laid back, uncrowded, boutique wineries of Australia and NZ, where the winemaker him/herself often pours the wine.

Am I dreaming to find something similiar in CA?
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Dec 29th, 2012, 12:15 AM
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And I thought Healdsburg was in Sonoma?
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Dec 29th, 2012, 04:41 AM
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We too love the town/square of Sonoma - and the area around it - where my Brother in Law had a ranch some years ago.

see: http://sonoma.com/ It is not only cute/historic/Victorian themed - but has some very good restaurants.

One of our favorite wineries is Gundlach Bundschu - with a rich history (the oldest family winery in Cal - http://www.gunbun.com/

- and you cannot beat the adjacent Carneros region for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with Acacia and Buena Vista and Bouchaine (were there during crush once) - being three of my favorites - and Gloria Ferrer Champagne also is quite well regarded and fun to visit. http://www.carneros.com/wineries/about and http://www.carneros.com/appellation/map
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Dec 29th, 2012, 04:44 AM
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Abd here are some pics of the town of Sonoma. http://tinyurl.com/crdncvd
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Dec 29th, 2012, 04:57 AM
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Sonoma is the name of a town and a county. So Healdsburg is in the county of Sonoma as is the town named Sonoma.

If you go to Healdsburg, try to visit Armstrong Woods (http://krcb.org/sonoma-county-hiking...rmstrong-woods). If you want unpretentious wineries, you could visit some in Almador or Placer counties - but that would be a longer drive.
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Dec 29th, 2012, 08:47 AM
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If you go to the Sonoma area and are roaming the country side stop at the Wild Flour Bakery - its out in the countryside, but packed with people stopping for bread, rolls - its a unique spot. If unpretentious is what you are looking for, this will fit the bill.

http://www.wildflourbread.com.

I did not find the wineries pretentious ( well I few were I guess), but no owners pouring wines that we met. I'll see if I can come up with a list of the ones we visited and we visited a lot

We were a group of 18 mostly Canadians celebrating a BD and we had so much fun.

I agree that Armstrong Woods makes a great stop- we did a short walk to see some of the redwoods.
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Dec 29th, 2012, 10:58 AM
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List of wineries I visited in Nov in Sonoma area

Kunde, Chateau St Jean, Landmark, St Francis, Ledson, Martinelli, Merry Edwards, Hop Kiln, Mill Creek

Merry Edwards and Mill Creek were smaller, more boutique type- enjoyed all of them
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Dec 29th, 2012, 11:39 AM
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Napa and Sonoma are not the only "wine countries" in California. There are wine growing appellations up and down the state. After the Bay area, are you driving to CO? Perhaps we could give you some other recs on your route?
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Dec 29th, 2012, 02:44 PM
  #20
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Thanks so much for all the suggestions. I'm researching like mad.

Michelle - No, we're not driving to CO. The current plan is to fly to SFO, then fly on to Las Vegas for a few days (we've found that its a great place to recover from jetlag, since the city never sleeps!), then fly back to SFO for a few days in wine country, then fly from SFO to CO.
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