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Cerlaurie Jul 19th, 2004 08:28 AM

Napa one day only
My husband and I are going to be in San Francisco in a couple of weeks and are planning to do a day trip to Napa. We are going on a Tuesday. We thought we would leave SF early, possibly get a light breakfast on the way (any suggestions?). We would like to do one or two wine tours and maybe a few tastings and have dinner in Napa before heading back to San Francisco.

The wineries we were considering are Mondavi, BV, Rutherford Hill, Beringer. Which would you choose? How many will we have time to visit?

We have to be back in San Francisco around 8 pm. We were thinking we would make a dinner reservation at 5:00. Will that work? or could we do it later? We were considering Tra Vigne, Bistro Don Giovanni and Mustards for dinner. What do you think?


Underhill Jul 19th, 2004 10:19 AM

Your itinerary is very workable--what great choices for dinner! Since you'll be eating early, I'd suggest heading to Mustards, as it's further down the valley toward San Francisco.

The Mondavi tour requires advance reservations and costs around $15; most other wineries don't charge for a tour. You might want to do one tasting at a sparkling-wine producer (Domaine Carneros and Domaine Chandon are nice, and the latter offers a very good tour) and then one or two vineyards that produce still wines. What varietals do you like in that category?

kimamom Jul 19th, 2004 11:13 AM

We really enjoy Tra Vigne, it's great. You may also want to check out Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen as an alternative to Mustard's. I've heard wonderful things about it lately. Have fun! ***kim***

gracieb Jul 19th, 2004 11:15 AM

Make sure to stop at Oakville Grocery

gracieb Jul 19th, 2004 12:03 PM

Here's a link to the Napa Oakville location -
I'd stop there for a meal or the makings for a picnic or snacks along the way.

If it's crowded, think about taking the Silverado trail (just east of the main Napa road). A friend just returned and raved about the Pine Ridge Winery. They joined their club and had a tasting in the caves with white tablecloths, cheese, etc.

Cerlaurie Jul 19th, 2004 02:21 PM

Thanks for the great suggestions! Oakville Grocery might be good for breakfast or lunch since we will be having early dinner. Anyone else?

travelisfun Jul 19th, 2004 02:26 PM

I would visit Domaine Chandon (as previously mentioned)--we really enjoyed it. Also, Neibaum Coppola has beautiful grounds and an interesting "museum".

For dinner, another great option would be Bistro Jeanty in Yountville--we LOVED this place. It's French cuisine, but not snooty. :) We really like Mustards, too, but it's a little more casual than your other choices.

maitaitom Jul 20th, 2004 12:05 PM

We just returned from a Healdsburg and Yountville trip. We had dinner at Bistro Don Giovanni in Napa and Bistro Jeanty in Yountville. I had a fabulous salmon at Bistro Don Giovanni (I'm not even a big salmon lover) and a great steak at Bistro Jeanty. My wife loved the Sole Meuniere Sole with mashed potatoes, and Lemon-Caper Butter ($16.50). The escargots in garlic were great, too.

Either of these would make good choices. I would make reservations on the patio at Don Giovanni. It's not so noisy as inside, although at 5pm it might not make a difference.

For wineries, I would drive along the Silverado Trail instead of 29 that goes to St. Helena (traffic was terrible on 29). You might choose Rombauer (really good Zins and Chardonnay).

If you're on 29, skip Peju (easily the snottiest winery with the snottiest wine guy I've been to in my life. I don't care how good their wine happens to be). We did like Newlan on 29 toward Napa from Yountville (good cabs). On 29 in Rutherford is St. Helena Olive Oil Co. where you can taste olive oils, balsamic vinegars and lesser known wines from smaller producers. Nice change of pace from the wineries.

No matter where you go, about three wineries is enough because, after that, your tastebuds can't distinguish between a cabernet or a dessert wine.
Have fun.

rebelyeller Jul 20th, 2004 01:28 PM

I had a very bad meal at Tra Vigne in May. I thought maybe it was just a bad night, but I have since read many "less than stellar" reviews. I think there are better choices.

Have fun!

Underhill Jul 20th, 2004 02:50 PM

When you go wine tasting, take a sourdough roll or some water crackers along with you to nibble between wines; clears the palate nicely. Some tasting rooms offer such amenties, but not many.

Underhill Jul 20th, 2004 02:51 PM

We love both Bistro Jeanty and Don Giovanni, but Mustards offers real California-style food.

JulieR Jul 20th, 2004 07:27 PM

Are reservations necessary for dinner in October at any of these restaurants for a Thursday or Friday night?

Cerlaurie Jul 20th, 2004 07:44 PM

Thanks everyone. I think we will try to make a reservation at Bistro Don Giavanni. I was also interested in Scala's Bistro (same owners) in SF so then I can take that off our list there. If we need to be back in SF around 8:00, should I make reservations at 5 or do you think we would be okay eating later? I am thinking it only takes about an hour to get back but not sure about traffic, etc.

Underhill Jul 20th, 2004 08:39 PM

If you dine at 5:00, you should be through around 7:00--by which time the commute traffic should have settled down, with luck. Since you'll be heading to San Francisco over the Golden Gate bridge, you will be going against the traffic. But whether you can do it all in one hour will depend on a number of variables, including your final destination.

mikemo Jul 24th, 2004 07:38 AM

B'Fast @ Standford Court Hot in SFO - The world class Lemon Souffle Pancakes with Fresh Raspberries and Raspberry Sauce is VG.
Bistro Jeanty is still good and affordable.
Beringer's second floor premium tasting room is VG.
Napa is very expensive and very over rated, imho!

Napa is very overrated

kimamom Jul 24th, 2004 04:16 PM

For a splurge, dine at Auberge du Soleil out on the back terrace!

We also enjoy Bistro Jeanty & Terra in that area. Recently, I have heard great things about La Toque in Rutherford, which I would like to try next along with Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen for lunch. ***kim***

jaxmom Jul 26th, 2004 09:20 PM

i just spent a day in Napa--- it was so fantastic. We went to Cakebread Cellars winery (YUM) and Niebaum-Coppola, which was lovely. But the best food was off the Silverado Trail up the hill (Rutherford?) to the Auberge du Soleil Resort/Spa. Now, the restaurant there is beyond pricey (matter of fact, no prices on the menu...), however on the veranda you can eat from an unbelievable bar menu. I had a hamburger that was delicious and a really good cheese plate. The view is what is the best; it overlooks Napa valley and the breeze was lovely because it was really hot in the valley. What an amazing day. :)

Otis_B_Driftwood Jul 27th, 2004 10:04 AM

Don Giovanni is a good choice since it's in Napa and therefore closer to SF. Ask for an outside table. Should be no problem at 5pm.

If you are going to downtown SF, I-80 is the best route. It's just over an hour to get to the SF exit off the Bay Bridge if there's no traffic.

desi1 Jul 29th, 2004 09:21 AM

How about Mustard Grill for lunch?
We are thinking about going to Mondavi, coppala and Sterling Wineries which would you do first, second and third. Which is close to Mustard Grill?

Pittsburgher Mar 26th, 2005 06:04 PM

A friend and I are taking our adult daughters for their first trip to SF and are interested in spending one of our four days touring the wine country. I know there are group tours available but was wondering if a private car/driver would be a better option? If anyone has such experience, please share -- would like to head out early, hit a few of the best wineries like the ones suggested here, have a great lunch and/or dinner, be back in SF by early evening.

Thanks for any suggestions!

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