Wine Country in early April - HELP!

Old Feb 14th, 2012, 07:55 AM
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Wine Country in early April - HELP!

Hi! New to the forum and looking for some great advice. My husband and I are interested in about 5 days in Wine Country. We don't know the first thing about where to fly in from (we live in Chicago), where to stay and this whole car rental thing is utterly confusing. I did some research on which part of wine country to stay in. I also happen to love hot springs. I was delighted to learn of an area called Callistoga (sp?) that seems to have wine, hot springs and bike riding - 3 of my favorite things - all within walking or bike riding distance. Would a trip to wine country be "wasted" if we just landed in Callistoga for 5 days? Is rentaing a car to go to Napa and Sononma a must? Also, if we did decide to just lay low in Callistoga, given the town is so walkable, do we even need a car? If not, how do you suggest we get from the airport to Callistoga and back?

Some insight in this matter would be truly helpful!
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Old Feb 14th, 2012, 08:21 AM
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I would compare the airfare plus rental car costs for SFO and Sacramento (SMF). The distance to Calistoga from each is 85-90 miles. I like the ease of getting in/out of Sacramento rather than driving through San Francisco.
Why do you want to see grapevines with no leaves or grapes?
The wine from last year is no better if you drink it there or at home.
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Old Feb 14th, 2012, 08:37 AM
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Hey - if you want to visit in April - that's great - and you can still have fun touring some wineries, taking a mudbath, riding bicycles as we used to do.

In any event - the airfares are probably much more reasonable into the Bay Area (SFO, Oakland or San Jose) - or possibly Sacto - and you could probably rent a car on a weekly rate and get a relatively decent deal, that being offseason and all.

Check out www.carrentals.com, and one of our favorites in Calisatoga is the Chateau Montelena winery - for it's classic style. http://www.montelena.com/
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Old Feb 14th, 2012, 08:38 AM
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BTW - Calistoga is at the northern end of the Napa Valley -and there are many other wineries in the area outside of Calistoga - and getting down as far as Sonoma (very cute town/city center)at the southern end/Carneros region - can be done in an hour or so.
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Old Feb 14th, 2012, 09:57 AM
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My husband is a teacher so we can only vacation during school holidays which his schedule dictates. Thanks for your advice!
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Old Feb 14th, 2012, 09:59 AM
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Dear Tomsd - THANK YOU! Great advice! I checked out the link -looks beautiful. How is the weather in early April? Should I pack my Wellies?
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Old Feb 14th, 2012, 10:20 AM
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April is a great time to visit. Calistoga gets pretty hot in the summer. Spring and Fall are best. We live in Napa and prefer to fly out of Sacramento but Santa Rosa is even more convenient for Calistoga if you can work out flying into there.

Santa Rosa is a 30 minute drive. Sacramento is almost two hours as is Oakland and SFO is a little further.

Oh, and since the vines leaf out in March, there will be a lot of new growth on the vines in April and the hills will still be green. April is also the best month for wildflowers.
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Old Feb 14th, 2012, 11:23 AM
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Dear Otis - Looks like the most complicated part will be comparing flights vs. drive times. Thanks for the weather update too! Things are looking good!
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Old Feb 14th, 2012, 11:32 AM
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Weather should be fairly nice - but you can always layer up if it cools.

And we used to get up to Napa from SF faster than two hours, but everybody is different. I still would take the least expensive air fare to the Bay Area or Sacto - and then just rent a car for a week. If you can arrive after the morning rush hour, or before the afternoon one - it would be best.

Have a blast.
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Old Feb 14th, 2012, 06:12 PM
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"And we used to get up to Napa from SF faster than two hours"

It's two hours to Calistoga, not Napa. Calistoga is 30 miles further north and it's freeway for only a few miles.

Sejal - compare car rental rates as well. Renting in Sac is usually cheaper than SFO and probably Santa Rosa too. Santa Rosa has limited service. Mainly Alaska, I believe and only from Seattle, Las Vegas, and LA.

If you are flying from Chicago, Southwest has convenient non-stop flights from Midway to Sacramento. Sacramento has a beautiful new terminal.
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Old Feb 16th, 2012, 10:44 AM
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Dear Tomsd - I'm not looking forward to the journey from the airport to Calistoga, but cest la vie, it is vacation after all! Thanks!
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Old Feb 16th, 2012, 10:46 AM
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Dear Otis - You are right about car rentals - they fluctuate a lot depending on airport! Thanks for the tip re: Southwest. I've priced all options to CA and done the map math re: distance.
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Old Feb 16th, 2012, 01:39 PM
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Napa/Sonoma is beautiful just about any time. I was just there in late January; have also been in March, also when it's raining, etc. and still love it. Personally, 5 days just in Calistoga would be way too much. There are over 450 vineyards + many cute towns in the area to plant yourself in one without the ability to move around. YES, rent a car. We stayed in Yountville, which I would highly recommend; good location, fabulous restaurants (think Michelin stars) and easy access to the wine trails. We flew into SFO mid day, rented a car and were in Napa in an hour. It's really pretty easy and a nice drive. Do some research, get some 2-1 wine coupons. Have fun.
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Old Feb 16th, 2012, 02:10 PM
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"I'm not looking forward to the journey from the airport to Calistoga"

If you fly into Sacramento, there's a backroad you can take from Davis which will take you through the country and coastal range over to the Napa Valley via Hwy 128. This route takes about 20 minutes or so longer but you avoid all the development and traffic along I-80. It is especially pretty in April. However, the road is not for everyone. Those that get carsick should avoid it.
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Old Feb 16th, 2012, 02:36 PM
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Do the five days include travel days or are five whole days in wine country?

With five full days you should be able to do both Napa AND Sonoma wineries. There are hundreds of wineries in each region.

Napa is essentially just two roads north and south. You can go up Highway 29 all the way up to Montelena and then back down on the Silverado Trail.

Sonoma is more the "typical" wine country with winding roads and bucolic vineyard vistas.

Here's a map of the Napa wineries.

http://napavalley.com/visitorsinfo/N...Winery_Map.pdf

If you are going up to Montelena (flaming pink area up at the top of the map), then I'd suggest Clos Pegase for its art and Sterling. Both are in the light brown region just below the flaming pink area.

Right at the bottom are Artesa - stunnign architecture - and Domaine Caneros. Purple area at the bottom of the map. These would be on the way to Sonoma valley.

I'll let the others recommend wineries in-between these two extreme ends. We all have our favorites.

Here's the website for the wineries in Sonoma County:

http://www.wineroad.com/

Ferrari-Carano is beautiful as is Soverain up towards the north end.

Make sure you bring your hollow leg!
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Old Feb 16th, 2012, 02:57 PM
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Hey - it's a fun drive. Cross over the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge - which is/becomes 101 - and then drive through Marin county and on up to 29 is it? see below:

Unless you are caught in rush hour during the week, or trying to come back later Sunday afternoon - the traffic shouldn't be that bad - but others who still live there could update on that.

http://gocalifornia.about.com/cs/nap.../calistoga.htm
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Old Feb 16th, 2012, 02:57 PM
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It's only about 75 miles.
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Old Feb 27th, 2012, 11:07 AM
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Dear Jbass - thanks for the tip! I picked Calistoga for the ease of access to hot springs and hope to spend each night resting tired muscles in a healing bubbly pool! I think we will end up renting a car so I'll keep Yountville in mind.
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Old Feb 27th, 2012, 11:11 AM
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Dear easytraveler - Indeed I have a few travel days included. We arrive in SFO on Sat night so we will stay someplace cheap near the airport and pick up the rental car early on Sunday. We leave Thursday midday. Wanted to say thanks for the link to the great map!
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Old Feb 27th, 2012, 11:18 AM
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One of the best hotels to stay at is the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa
http://www.thelifeofluxury.com/fairm...-luxury-hotel/

It was recently featured on a recent "The Bachelor" show episode.

A must do is taking the scenic Napa Valley Wine train.
http://web.archive.org/web/201101011...ey-wine-train/

I have done both the day and night trips. The night trip is perfect for a romantic dinner and drinks!
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