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Napa Valley - NEED ADVICE/OPINIONS...so overwhelmed.

Napa Valley - NEED ADVICE/OPINIONS...so overwhelmed.

Old Apr 10th, 2006, 08:34 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 43
Napa Valley - NEED ADVICE/OPINIONS...so overwhelmed.

My boyfriend and I (mid-20's)are heading to Napa Valley (or maybe Sonoma) mid-September. We have 4 days to spend in the area. We are looking at booking one hotel and then if we want to explore we can but will use the hotel as a home base. We are looking for a nice place (around $400/night). We want to be close to shops, restaurants, etc.

We are trying to decide what area we want to stay in. Napa Valley vs. Sonoma. I've read alot of posts on this website and see that both have its positives/negatives.

What is Sonoma like?
What are the towns in Napa Valley like - St. Helena, Calistoga?

Any advice is greatly appreciated!


sll1031 is offline  
Old Apr 10th, 2006, 09:21 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 65
Napa proper isn't so great, but just north are the towns of Yountville and St. Helena. Yountville is several blocks of fabulous restaurants (Bouchon, Bistro Jeanty, French Laundry, etc...), some shops and inns/hotels. Very nice place to stay is the Villagio or Vintago Inn - sister properties. May run you slightly ovr $400 a night. There are also nice B&Bs if you like that style more like Maison Fleurie. You are then a short drive to St. Helena which is a bigger town, also several blocks of restaurants (Martini House) and shops. There are several vineyards right around that stretch between Yountville and St. Helena. I think there is more to see and do in these towns than Sonoma. Calistoga is the north of St. Helena -- even bigger town -- not as nice/quaint in terms of shops and restaurants -- has many day and overnight spas as they are known for treatments like mud baths and hot springs. You can stay in any of these towns and drive to the others for a few hours.
pineco is offline  
Old Apr 10th, 2006, 09:52 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Actually I would choose Sonoma over Napa. For one thing it will likely be cheaper (for both places to stay & tastings). Also we typically stay in the Jenner/Bodega Bay area on the Coast & wander in to Sonoma to taste a couple of days. You'll find most Sonoma wineries more laid back & friendly than their Napa counter parts w/the wine being of equal quality. Try www.sonoma.com, www.staysonoma.com or www.sonomabb.com. Also check out osmosis.com. Occidental is a quaint little town over towards the coast also.
SAnParis is offline  
Old Apr 10th, 2006, 09:55 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
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You might also considering splitting it up, and staying in Napa 2 nights and Sonoma 2 nights. My husband and I were planning a similar trip (had to postpone until next year) and were going to stay in Yountville in Napa, and Healdsburg in Sonoma.
TarheelsInNj is offline  
Old Apr 10th, 2006, 10:28 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
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I would choose the towns of St. Helena or Yountville. Alternately, you could stay near Calistoga as well. I prefer the Napa Valley over Sonoma because of its sheer beauty and because of the way they have zoned for growth in the Napa Valley, it is much more picturesque. (i.e., you won't find a Taco Bell next to a historic winery)

You will certainly not run out of wineries and places to visit for 4 days.

There are a few places to stay near Downtown St. Helena where you could walk around, but for the most part, people will drive from place to place. St. Helena is probably the most centrally located town in the Napa Valley, but Yountville is also a great little town.

kangamom is offline  
Old Apr 10th, 2006, 10:30 AM
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Healdsburg is in a great location & may have the amenities that you are seeking. However, it can get way busy on the weekends.
SAnParis is offline  
Old Apr 10th, 2006, 10:36 AM
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If you search on either Napa or Sonoma on here there are a ton of discussions/debate. Generally speaking I think that most folks don't question the quality of wine in Napa but rather that there is a certain 'snobbish element' present & nearly all wineries charge a tasting fee. (Originally put in place to discourage youngsters from taking advantage of a free drunk, but now happily indulged in by all parties). Sonoma is more laid back, & Mom & Pop. That being said, some of my favorite wineries reside in Napa (Regusci comes to mind) but I still choose to spend most of my time in Sonoma given a choice.
SAnParis is offline  
Old Apr 10th, 2006, 02:54 PM
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The Vintage Inn in Yountville is a great place to stay, and the hotel is within easy walking distance of a number of fine restaurants--including the French Laundry, if you can snag a reservation. Yountville is about 10 minutes from the nice small town of St. Helena, with quite a few good shops--check out Vanderbilts for excellent gifts that include lovely Italian pottery and linens.
Underhill is online now  
Old Apr 10th, 2006, 07:50 PM
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Thanks for responding. I have read over numerous posts that reference Napa and Sonoma. I'm still undecided.

I'm leaning more towards Healdsburg (and Sonoma) right now from what I've read. I'm looking for the right mixture of beautiful scenery, wineries (but my boyfriend and I definitely aren't wine snobs), restaurants and shops. I don't love crowds and feeling like I'm at Disneyland with a ton of other tourists and that is what many people on this message board have said about Napa.

I'm still debating between Healdsburg and St. Helena. Any more advice would be appreciated. Is it worth splitting our time (3 nights in 1 place, 2 in the other) between the 2 places or should we just pick a home base and explore from there?
sll1031 is offline  
Old Apr 11th, 2006, 10:51 AM
Join Date: Apr 2005
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I can't really speak to the wineries/wine tasting in detail, but I can speak to the actual locations. Healdsburg is a very cute little town on a town square. But it is by no means less expensive/fancy than Yountville or St. Helena -- there are expensive clothing shops and restaurants on the square. It is delightful to walk around the square for an afternoon, but thereafter you'll want to explore elsewhere. Napa offers you the choice of staying in Yountville, then checking out St. Helena one day, Calistoga the next, driving along and stopping at wineries as you please. I don't find it snobby, though I guess they do charge at wineries whereas in Sonoma they don't always? Anyway, I'm by no means a wine connoiseur, but have enjoyed Napa just fine and haven't found it exclusive. Taylor's Refresher is a roadside diner kind of place with picnic benches and fries, milkshakes, etc... -- very yummy. Oakville Grocer -- a gourmet deli also right off the main road -- great for lunch. Endless eating, shopping and wine tasting option and the view of vineyards as you drive along is so beautiful. I think overall Napa will offer you more options. You could split it up, though you'll find more than enough to see and do just in Napa for several days.
pineco is offline  
Old Apr 11th, 2006, 07:45 PM
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Thanks for all of the advice. I decided to go with Sonoma and stay at the Honor Mansion.
sll1031 is offline  
Old Apr 12th, 2006, 05:20 AM
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Just an FYI, most (if not all) wineries will waive the tasting fee if you're a member of their wine club or if you buy a few bottles. We've never had to pay tasting fees, but then again, we buy A LOT of wine and don't go just to get free drinks.

We love Calistoga and do an annual trip with 5 couples.
nina is offline  
Old Apr 12th, 2006, 07:27 AM
Join Date: May 2004
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I can recommend the Adagio Inn in St. Helena. It is within walking distance to the main street in St. Helena and plenty of great restaurants... our favorite in the area was Martini House. St. Helena is a pretty central location too and within easy driving distance to Calistoga and Napa. There are tons of wineries all around there.
yale is offline  
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