Napa and Sonoma - which wineries?

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Jun 18th, 2001, 07:49 PM
  #1
Kate
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Napa and Sonoma - which wineries?

Hi,
I will be vacationing with a friend in Napa and Sonoma at the end of July. Does anyone have recommendations for great wineries to visit? Also, any thoughts about hot-air balloon rides?
Thanks!
Kate
 
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Jun 19th, 2001, 12:20 AM
  #2
Jennifer
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Last October I visited Francis Ford Coppolla's winery among others. He purchased it several years ago, and the grounds are very French chateau-ish. Stunning and very charming. His reserve wines and cabernet franc are outstanding. Definitely among the best in the area.

Sounds fun, Jen
 
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Jun 19th, 2001, 04:49 AM
  #3
pam
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I would recommend no more than 3 or 4 wineries a day so you have time to enjoy them. When we spent a day in Napa last summer a friend recommended the following wineries for a diverse selection and we were happy with these. Sterling Vineyards (our favorite) has a self guided tour, a cable car ride from the parking lot to the winery, and a nice tasting area where you sit on a deck overlooking Napa. Beautiful - I could spend an entire day there. The best wine tour was at Beringer. We also went to Domaine Chandon (sp?) to learn about how champagne is produced and to enjoy some tasting. If I recall correctly, Domain is the only place we had to pay for samples, but it included a souvenir champagne glass.
 
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Jun 19th, 2001, 09:25 AM
  #4
Kevin
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We stayed at Fanny's B&B in Calistoga. Fantastic place to nap off a wine buzz in a hammock. Wineries - Beringer, Mondavi, Coppola, bring lunch to Sterling (overlooks valley).

We had dinner at Tra Vigna the first night, sampled some wine and then went looking for the smaller wineries that we had tasted. Just call ahead at the smaller ones. Our favorite winery and least beautiful was Elyse. Great people, great wine.
 
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Jun 19th, 2001, 09:48 AM
  #5
CHP
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Hello,
Remember people, it's wine TASTING, not drinking at all of these beautiful places then driving.

If you do, we have a place for you to stay for a few days. The chow is not as good as Tre Vinge and the view is worse than Sterling's.

Have a designated driver if you'd rather drink than taste.
10-4
 
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Jun 19th, 2001, 09:49 AM
  #6
kam
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Wineries vary greatly in character, ambience, style of wine making and degree of commercialism. We like the less commercial so prefer Sonoma in general--Chateau Souverain is great. In Napa we like Trefethen, St. Clement, Folie A Deux, Silver Oak. IMHO Robert Mondavi has gotten way out of hand, Sterling is Disneyish and Copolla's winery is like being in Neiman Marcus' food room--way too commercial. But, that's just our opinion, obviously others love it. I suggest you get a book like the Access guide to Northern CA Wineries and make your choices. Good advice not to go to too many each day. After awhile your taste buds go to bed. Check with Balloons Above the Valley for balloon rides. They require that you get up very early in the morning but generally end with a brunch. I didn't do it, but DH and son enjoyed very much. You MUST reserve--call at 800-464-6824. What I would NOT recommend is the Napa Wine Train--it's just a moving restaurant and doesn't stop at any of the wineries.
 
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Jun 19th, 2001, 09:57 AM
  #7
Kate
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These responses have been very helpful - thanks to all for the terrific advice! I'll let you know how it turns out - now we're even more excited to go there than before. thanks again!
-kate
 
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Jun 19th, 2001, 10:02 AM
  #8
Suzie
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OOOOOO I love Kam's choices. I'm dreaming just reading about them. I know it's really commercial and all but we really do have a bunch of fun at V Sattui.
 
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Jun 19th, 2001, 11:13 AM
  #9
Monica
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Kam, again, you took the words right out of my mouth. When it comes to Napa/ Sonoma, we totally agree. I hated Copolla. It was like a shrine to himself, and extremely expensive for wine I considered to not be that great.
 
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Jun 19th, 2001, 05:44 PM
  #10
Laurie
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We really enjoyed Schramsberg. It's the only champagne house that still riddles by hand, not machine. The tour through their caverns is very interesting and informative on the whole champagne process. Limited availability so reserve early. They only take about 10 people per tour. The champagne is outstanding- but pricey. Enjoy.
 
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Jun 19th, 2001, 09:09 PM
  #11
Leilani
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We like the smaller, family-type wineries in Sonoma, like Sebastiani and Bartholomew Park. There's a friendlier atmosphere, and you don't get the feeling that they view you in terms of dollar signs.
 
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Jun 20th, 2001, 07:20 AM
  #12
Dick
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I think you need to give consideration to what defines a "great winery"

Are you looking for an educational tour of how wine is made, a winery with impressive grounds, or are you a oeniphile looking to taste and purchase fairly expensive wines that may not be availabel in your hometown.
 
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Jun 21st, 2001, 10:07 AM
  #13
Topper
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To the top
 
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Jun 22nd, 2001, 10:20 PM
  #14
sharon
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You might want to check out this site before your visit. You can find out about current happenings as well as read reviews http://www.sfgate.com/traveler/guide/winecountry/
 
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Jun 23rd, 2001, 05:36 AM
  #15
Sal
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Kate,
Do take the advise you get here--esp. from Kam and Suzie. When we went for the first time, I took copies of the recs I had received for wineries and restaurants. Each one was excellent. My husband was finally convinced that there are some worthwhile forums on the web! Anyway, Sattui has an incredible gourmet deli. You can have a picnic under their olive trees or find another beautiful location. As mentioned, Schramsburg has an excellent tour, and the caves are fascinating. If you really want a comprehensive and informative tour of the process, start with St. Supery. I wouldn't recommend taking more than 3 or 4 tours as it can get redundant. However, many wineries are worth a visit for their beauty alone.
 
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Jun 23rd, 2001, 08:01 AM
  #16
kam
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An aside. When visiting the wineries, make sure to look at the many gorgeous gardens. Many wineries are known for landscaping and employ scores of gardeners to keep them beautiful. They've been my inspiration on several occasions. If you don't live in a warm climate, you'll see some interesting new plants as well. And, I agree with Schraumberg as a choice, and remembered Clos Pegaus too. There are over 250 wineries in Napa--it's hard to make a choice.
 
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Jun 24th, 2001, 02:54 AM
  #17
klhoran
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Hi,

Having been to Napa many times, I'd like to put my two cents in. Yes napa has some large commercial winerys. Mondavi IMHO has excellent wine and a great tour. Yes they have increased their marketing the last few years but that doesn't take away from the wine. Sterling, hated it, the only reason to go would be for the scenery and even then I would suggest La Famiglia. St Suprey has a wonderful tour, when we took it there was a guide, many people have mentioned it being self guided, its been 4 years since we did the tour so things might have changed. Peju is a small family owned winery that has out of this world reds. Lastly we always like to grab lunch at V Sattui and their wine is yummy too...IMO try some of the ones you can't find in your stores back home that's were the real fun of discovery lies..
 
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