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Most affordable Wineries in Northern California near Napa?

Most affordable Wineries in Northern California near Napa?

Mar 10th, 2014, 01:08 AM
  #1  
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Most affordable Wineries in Northern California near Napa?

Hi,

I went to Calistoga for wine and relaxation, i.e. mud baths, and I was happy except for the lack of affordable wineries? Does anyone have any recommendations for affordable wineries in and around Napa? St. Helena? We did Tamber Bay in Calistoga. More information about our recent wine foray and Calistoga Trip report here - http://battlemountain.wordpress.com/

cheers,
Jay
battlemttravel is offline  
Mar 10th, 2014, 01:26 AM
  #2  
 
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Looking forward to the responses - as most/all of them charge now? Oh for the good old days of the 70's - when we rode our bicycles around the area - and most wineries did not charge.
Tomsd is offline  
Mar 10th, 2014, 04:29 PM
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Do you mean wineries that sell cheap wines, or wineries that don't charge much for tastings?
NeoPatrick is online now  
Mar 10th, 2014, 04:37 PM
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You have to get out of Napa/Sonoma.
MichelleY is offline  
Mar 10th, 2014, 06:42 PM
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Tomsd,

It sounds like you were in the Napa/wine area of Nor Cal at the right time! Ha! Biking and wine tasting ...

Anyway, I am more interested in wineries with cheaper or free tastings. Also, it would be a bonus to have cheaper wine on sale too.
battlemttravel is offline  
Mar 10th, 2014, 06:50 PM
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Napa is tough. Free tasting cards are harder to find with each passing year as it becomes an ever more popular tourist destination. It's simple economics: if most people are there to buy wine, offering free or very cheap tastings makes sense; if all most people will do is taste, though, because that's all they came to do, well, pie is never free, and there will be a charge, and it will rise if the market allows.

Same goes for the price of wine: demand for Napa product is driving prices up and up.

I know you know this, OP (and others), just recapping. Napa is not a place for bargain hunters. Sonoma is not cheap, and free tastings are just about unheard of, but it's a bit easier to find cheaper wines.

That said, battlemttravel, what are you shooting for per bottle? (Ideas of what constitutes a "bargain" vary.)
NewbE is offline  
Mar 11th, 2014, 02:26 AM
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Well said NewbE.

Check out the accommodations around the very cute square in town in Sonoma. There are also a number of good wineries there - and one of our favorites - with a great history - is Gundlach Bundschu.

And the adjacent Carneros region has the best growing clime for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes - while more into the valleys of Napa and Sonoma - it's warmer and better for the Cabernet Saivgnon grapes - which the area was first known for.
Tomsd is offline  
Mar 11th, 2014, 02:29 AM
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BTW - liked your travel report about Calistoga (cuite pics) - and next time - if you did't get there - Chateau Montelena is a classic winery- and we knew a former owner.

When moving from SF to San Diego - back in the early 80's - we had a "last" Napa/Sonoma/Calistoga trip and bought a couple of huge magnums from Chateau Montelena - which we enjoying savoring down here and reminiscing about the great times we had.
Tomsd is offline  
Mar 11th, 2014, 04:00 AM
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Visits to wineries in Napa today are often spent listening to the sales pitch about membership in their wine club. If you sign up for one they likely waive the tasting fee for the day. And if you seem serious about doing so but want to think about, they are also likely to waive the fee -- as they want you back. We really WERE serious about two such programs and at both wineries they waived the fees (I think one was $20 each and the other was $25 each), when we took the forms. We really thought we would join one of them, but after a night of clearing our heads and looking at the shipping costs to NJ, we decided not to -- but still our tastings were free.

But we did go to one DryCreek area winery -- long a favorite of mine -- which is visitable only by an advance call and reservation. There is NO fee for tastings of their three fine wines. But I hesitate to mention it by name as they are not looking for hoards of "free tasting seekers" and their wines are around $40 a bottle at the winery. I think there are other small wineries that also offer free tastings.
NeoPatrick is online now  
Mar 11th, 2014, 05:39 AM
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Sonoma County's tourism office has published this list of wineries offering free tastings. I'm in the midst of planning my own trip to SF, Mendoncino and Healdsburg and cannot speak to the quality or experience offered by any of the wineries, however.

http://www.sonomacounty.com/articles...-sonoma-county
indyhiker is online now  
Mar 11th, 2014, 07:55 AM
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That's an interesting list, indyhiker. I can say with conviction that Alexander Valley Wineyards, Merry Edwards, Rochioli and Zichichi make superb wines that are definitely not inexpensive; we have had wine from many of the others on the list and there are some gems. The thing is, I don't think it's true that the 4 we visited offer free tastings--but I could be wrong, because we bought wine at all of them, and fees are usually not even mentioned when you're a serious buyer. (Merry Edwards requires an appointment.)
NewbE is offline  
Mar 11th, 2014, 08:08 AM
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Well, since it's on that list linked by indyhiker, I'll tell you that A.Rafanelli is that "favorite" winery I mentioned.
NeoPatrick is online now  
Mar 11th, 2014, 08:21 AM
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OK, so I guess the list is a gold mine! Thanks, indyhiker!
NewbE is offline  
Mar 11th, 2014, 09:46 AM
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A Visa Signature card offers some free or discounted tastings.

http://www.sonomawine.com/visa-signa...s-winery-guide

Anderson Valley is also a bit cheaper for tastings.

If the goal is to find cheap wine, then you should probably go to the Central Valley (or the local supermarket). Napa, Sonoma, and even Anderson Valley are premium wine-growing regions and the economics don't work to make cheap wine there.
travelgourmet is online now  
Mar 11th, 2014, 10:32 AM
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If you want cheaper tasting fees, go to Paso Robles. Fees are $5 at most wineries and are waived if you buy a bottle. The wine itself though is not cheap, but most of it is very good. Paso was voted 2013 wine region of the year by Wine Spectator and is known locally as the unpretentious Napa. And I really don't want to hit Submit right now because I want it to stay that way! LOL.
AustinTraveler is offline  
Mar 11th, 2014, 10:54 AM
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Travelgourmet, thanks for the tip about free or discounted tastings this is EXACTLY what I was looking for I appreciate the help and advice. Also, I am looking for more affordable or free tastings and it seems the Cali central coast may be best for this.

IndyHiker, thanks for the link from the Sonoma County tourism office. Also, keep up us to date in regards to your trip to SF, Mendoncino and Healdsburg. I love trip reports and reviews.

And, Tomsd, thanks for the positive feedback on my girlfriend's report on Calistoga - http://battlemountain.wordpress.com/

Lastly, I found a worthwhile list of some cheaper wineries in the wine region near Napa and Sonoma below:

http://napatouristguide.com/napa-on-a-budget

Thanks for all of the feedback folks!
battlemttravel is offline  
Mar 11th, 2014, 10:56 AM
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NewbE, thanks for the feedback. I posted that list on the strength of it being published by Sonoma County, but should have offered the caveat that I have no idea how often they check on its accuracy. For anybody relying on the list, it couldn't hurt to check the websites of any winery you might be interested in visiting to see what their current fee is.
indyhiker is online now  
Mar 11th, 2014, 11:05 AM
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I'd add this online resource, too:

http://www.sonomatouristguide.com/coupons.html

They do mention on this site that the last update was "spring 2014," so I hope that it's up-to-date. But the same caveat I mentioned above should apply. I'll have to spend some time and cross reference the two lists. I'll try to report back on that in the near future.

And I'll be sure to offer a trip report after our vacation. I will freely admit that, right now, I'm at that overwhelmed stage, especially with respect to San Francisco. So many places to eat, so little time.....
indyhiker is online now  
Mar 16th, 2014, 06:27 PM
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Thanks for this list!
bankbabe is offline  
Mar 18th, 2014, 12:08 PM
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If you are looking for more inexpensive wineries and are open to changing your location, the Santa Cruz Mountain appellation is one of the oldest wine-growing areas in the country and makes FABULOUS wines at often a very reasonable price. The region is covered in wineries, often small family owned businesses with a beautiful mountain or ocean view. They specialize in pinot noir and chardonay, but have every wine imaginable. You can find wineries very near the city of Santa Cruz, or go deep into the hills/mountains. Either way, you're less than an hour away from San Jose/Santa Clara or Santa Cruz. Visit here for more information: www.scmwa.com/

It should also be mentioned that if wineries have free tasting, it's etiquette to purchase a bottle of wine from them - tastings cost them quite a bit of money (which is why most charge). This is especially true for small family wineries. There's an old saying about how a wine maker can make a million dollars - give him 5 million dollars.

The suggestion on Paso Robles is also a wonderful one. It would be a wonderful road trip if that was your thing! Good luck on wine tasting.
Steph_Haas is offline  

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