Napa/Sonoma Small Wineries

Jan 18th, 2007, 10:38 AM
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Napa/Sonoma Small Wineries

My husband and I are planning a midweek trip in April. We're staying in Yountville because we want the convenience of being able to walk to meals in the evening but don't mind driving distances to get to the Sonoma area wineries. (I wasn't sure if there was much dining in Healdsburg/Sonoma if we stayed there - is that a better location for us?)

We're thinking about Ravenswood, Simi, Cakebread (their wine/food pairing event), and Chalk Hill because we like their wines but would also love some suggestions of some smaller, off the beaten path wineries that offer a great experience and won't be packed. We're fans of strong oaky reds, although do appreciate a crisp white once in a while.

Also, are there any "must try" vineyards on the way up from San Fran airport?

Thanks in advance!

crashdog01 is offline  
Jan 18th, 2007, 11:07 AM
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I don't know if it's on your way, but we really like Martinelli (the wine, not the apple juice!) The winery is just west of Hwy. 101, and a bit north of Santa Rosa.

The winemaker is Helen Turley, and their zinfandels in particular are wonderful---including one that has rated a 96 from Mr. Parker. (You can't buy that one unless you are on "the list", but the lesser zins are also very nice.)
enzian is offline  
Jan 18th, 2007, 12:11 PM
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There are lots of great places to dine in Sonoma. The General's Daughter, Swiss Hotel, Harmony Club, El Dorado Kitchen, girl and the fig and Cafe La Haye are a few of our favorites. We like the Sonoma Mission Inn for a base when we visit Sonoma, it is about a 5 minute drive to the Sonoma Square where all the great restaurants are.

Check out Freemark Abbey in St. Helena very some very good wines. We will be back in the wine country in the Spring and are considering the Honor Mansion in Healdsburg for our stay this year. We have enjoyed the Hotel Healdsburg in the past, very good food at the Dry Creek Kitchen and there's the Farmhouse Inn in Forestville that is also very good for dining in this area. We want to try Cyrus this year. Cheers! ***kim***
kimamom is offline  
Jan 18th, 2007, 04:11 PM
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The town of Sonoma is charming, built around an 11 acre plaza ringed with adobe buildings from the Mexican Days. The El Dorado Hotel, right on the Plaza is a fun place to stay. About 2 miles east of town is the Buena Vista Winery. It is a small stone building under oak trees. This is here the Hungarian Count (Haraszthy-sp?) brought the first European wine grape cuttings to California. And, yes, Sonoma is famouse for its restaurants, as mentioned above
jtrandolph is offline  
Jan 18th, 2007, 05:57 PM
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OK-quick check-you do know that Yountville is in Napa Valley, yes ?
Plenty of good restaurants there, of course. A midweek visit is very wise up here, crashdog !

So do your visit to Chalk Hill & Cakebread there-a day trip over to a few wineries around Sonoma town would not be to difficult-
(Ravenswood, Gundlach Bundschu, Nicholson Ranch)
After that , Healdsburg is where I'd want to be and Healdsburg has absoulutely fab places to dine-
Cena Luna
Willi's Seafood
Sake 'O
Bistro Ralph
Oh, and do venture over to the
Jimtown Store for a fun lunch !

Simi is up near Healdsburg in the beautiful Dry Creek Valley-other places for big reds up there and the Russian River/Alexander Valleys might be
Lambert Bridge
A. Rafanelli (needs reservations)
David Coffaro
Joseph Swan

For your once in a while crisp white
try the Lambert Bridge & Rochioli Sauvignon Blancs.

So, kim, you're planning your annual one night visit to my lovely county ?
Too bad you couldn't stay longer some time so we could call Kal for a GTG !

razzledazzle is offline  
Jan 18th, 2007, 06:21 PM
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William Harrison is on the Silverado Trail. Definitely small - grow their grapes in the front yard. Cute little tasting room and the wines are delicious (around $45 a bottle). Peju was smaller with great artwork and great reds, too (same price range).
Ronda is offline  
Jan 18th, 2007, 06:31 PM
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I'll second the Peju recommendation. See if the yodeler is there for a fun experience. It's just north of Cakebread about 1/2 mile. Beautiful grounds, too. Also, Casa Nuestra on Silverado Trail between St Helena and Calistoga. Small barn tasting room with rustic picnic area - Great wine called Tinto. Ask for the Tinto story!
elnap29 is offline  
Jan 18th, 2007, 07:17 PM
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LOL razzle! that is a great list you gave there!
Scarlett is offline  
Jan 19th, 2007, 06:29 AM
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Thanks so much for all the recommendations! The vineyards sound exactly like what we're looking for. I'm going to investigate staying in Healdsburg/Sonoma for at least half the trip since it seems like almost all the stuff we'd like to see is up there anyway.

Thanks again!
crashdog01 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2007, 06:40 AM
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I would skip Ravenswood. There really isn't much there except a tasting room (I was there in 1999). The staff was snooty as well.

I would highly recommend V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena. They have been voted the best winery in California a couple of times in the past 3 years. Outstanding red wines. The staff is friendly, plenty of wines to taste, the grounds and buildings are beautiful, they have a gourmet shop on premises. A great place to get a bottle of wine, some crusty bread, cheeses, and fresh fruit and have a picnic.

uconn1990 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2007, 06:44 AM
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Okay. That settles it. I'm coming back to the wine country and doing R5's list!

I like the St. Supery for informational purposes.

I like that so many are so different.
starrsville is offline  
Jan 24th, 2007, 02:21 PM
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Crashdog! Definitely try Sonoma! The Sonoma Mission Inn is fantastic - we just stayed there on New Year's. As for restaurants - all the one's mentioned - Cafe le Haye, el Dorado Kitchen, The Girl and the Fig, Sante (at the Mission Inn), Duece, a relatively new one "Meritage." As for small wineries, try a new one that just opened called "Little Vineyards." Also VJB on Highway 12 in Sonoma. There are many others but most require appointments and some planning (we usually take a wine tour!)... Hope this helps.
Perigrinator is offline  
Jan 24th, 2007, 03:44 PM
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syd is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 02:40 AM
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I would suggest Buena Vista. It is the oldest winery in Napa, quaint, and has delightful wines.
mindforms is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 12:16 PM
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Buena Vista is over in Sonoma, near
Sonoma town, not Napa.

razzledazzle is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 06:22 PM
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Yes. the charming small stone winery, Buena Vista, is where the Hungarian Colonal Haraszcthy (sp?) brought the first wine grape cuttings from Europe to California. It is a couple of miles east of Sonoma town and worth a visit. Small, low key, bring a picnic lunch.
jtrandolph is offline  

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