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Old 06-15-2015, 10:54 PM   #21
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We first went to Napa on our honeymoon road trip 35 years ago. It was a day trip from SF, and I remember driving on many small highways going through many small towns to get there. There was no I-80 then.

Robert Mondavi was the only winery we visited, and they offered a free tour of the wine pressing, fermentation facility and aging cellars. That was followed by a free wine tasting though we did buy several bottles as souvenir.

Coming out of the winery, we had a nice lunch at a restaurant, which we could not locate on the revisit trips. The place may still be there, but so much has changed. The area was more rural than it is now. Traffic was also nowhere as bad.
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Old 06-16-2015, 08:53 AM   #22
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I would head next door to Sonoma County and stay in Healdsburg. Visit the wineries along Dry Creek, head down the Russian River to the coast and take the drive to Bodega Bay, come back up to Sonoma for a walk around town, back to Healdsburg. Lots to do, beautiful country, less congested than Napa. As for where to stay, check Trip Advisor based on your preferences and budget or look to AirB&B or VRBO.
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Old 06-16-2015, 09:08 AM   #23
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I would head next door to Sonoma County and stay in Healdsburg. Visit the wineries along Dry Creek, head down the Russian River to the coast and take the drive to Bodega Bay, come back up to Sonoma for a walk around town, back to Healdsburg. Lots to do, beautiful country, less congested than Napa. As for where to stay, check Trip Advisor based on your preferences and budget or look to AirB&B or VRBO.
Agree biked these areas couple years ago. Biked through a giant redwood Forrest. Really enjoyed biking along the coast and Russian a River. Try Lucy's Restaurant in Yountville at the Bardessono hotel which is also a great place to stay but expensive.
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Old 06-16-2015, 09:29 AM   #24
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Old 06-16-2015, 01:10 PM   #25
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I would head next door to Sonoma County and stay in Healdsburg. Visit the wineries along Dry Creek, head down the Russian River to the coast and take the drive to Bodega Bay, come back up to Sonoma for a walk around town, back to Healdsburg. Lots to do, beautiful country, less congested than Napa. As for where to stay, check Trip Advisor based on your preferences and budget or look to AirB&B or VRBO.
+1
Dry Creek valley is one of our favs for tasting and general mucking about. Agree to check out VRBO for lodging. Although many places have minimum stay nights, you should be able to find a place for 2 nights. For good beer and decent food that won't break the bank, go to Bear Republic in Healdsburg. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...96041959,d.cGU
Good window shopping in that town also. Wineries in Dry Creek area: Preston and Truett Hurst. Good wines, and good grounds for having a nice wine country experience. Have fun wherever you decide to go!
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Old 06-16-2015, 01:15 PM   #26
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Did anyone already mention the wine train? Just an awesome experience. If you are more sports oriented, there are hikes and kayak rentals.

There are just too many restaurants to name a favorite. My favorite is which ever one I can make a reservation with or can get seated within an hour with a reservation.

Head up to the Geysers if you've never seen an active steam field. Lake Hennesy and Berryessa are nice to spend a picnic at.
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Old 06-17-2015, 10:41 AM   #27
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Thanks for all the inputs and ideas.


DW and I will consider these and whether it is Napa vs Sonoma.


Any more suggestions are certainly welcome!
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Old 06-18-2015, 05:44 PM   #28
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Don't be surprised if it is very hot...

the microclimates in the bay area are unlike a lot of other areas. There can be a 50F change in temp in 40 miles. Hence Mark Twain's comment
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Old 06-18-2015, 06:42 PM   #29
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+1
Dry Creek valley is one of our favs for tasting and general mucking about. Agree to check out VRBO for lodging. Although many places have minimum stay nights, you should be able to find a place for 2 nights. For good beer and decent food that won't break the bank, go to Bear Republic in Healdsburg. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...96041959,d.cGU
Good window shopping in that town also. Wineries in Dry Creek area: Preston and Truett Hurst. Good wines, and good grounds go!

We love Healdsburg.

If you go to Sonoma, you may want to try Dry Creek Vineyards and Quivira, too.

Ferrari Carano has especially lovely grounds and gardens.
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Old 06-18-2015, 06:46 PM   #30
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Well - in talking it over with DW, we are opting for Sonoma with Healdsburg as our 'base'.


The density of vineyards in the Dry Creek area is appealing and we may even choose a tour so we don't have to drive

Then the next day we'll go out on our own and tour around down to Hwy 1.

I'm not expecting to make this the one and only definitive trip to Sonoma - just the first of several!


Thanks for all the great ideas!


Napa is still on the radar - just not this time.
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Old 06-18-2015, 06:47 PM   #31
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Well - in talking it over with DW, we are opting for Sonoma with Healdsburg as our 'base'.


The density of vineyards in the Dry Creek area is appealing and we may even choose a tour so we don't have to drive

Then the next day we'll go out on our own and tour around down to Hwy 1.

I'm not expecting to make this the one and only definitive trip to Sonoma - just the first of several!

I think you will be very pleased with your decision. Have a great trip!
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Old 06-19-2015, 07:34 AM   #32
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As a frequent traveler to the area, I concur with a lot of the above points. Another LBYM idea is to stay in Suisun Valley which is the next valley east of Napa. A couple of small, but excellent wineries. An excellent restaurant to try is Mankas on Mankas Corner. We stay at the mouth of the SV at a Fairfield Suite and take the road thru SV over the mountain and plop down in Napa in the middle of the Silverado Trail. Your choice of north or south.


I like the Rutherford Grill, great food, fair price and NO corking fee.


I love Chimney Rock and Stags Leap for stupendous Cab Sauv, and Robert Biale's Black Chicken Old Vine Zinfandel. Healdsburg area has great OV Zins, Russian River for Pinot Noir.


If you or anybody else likes great Zinfandel (and I ain't talking no sissy White Zinfandel) and is going to be in/near Healdsburg on August 15th, PM me about a tasting event with about 50 wineries under 1 tent.
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Old 06-19-2015, 08:23 AM   #33
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(and I ain't talking no sissy White Zinfandel)
Isn't that a Kool-Aid flavor?
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Old 06-19-2015, 08:26 AM   #34
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We just stayed at the Calistoga Inn a few weeks ago. It's European style in that the bathrooms/showers are not in the room but down the hall. It was reasonably priced for the area and right in the town of Calistoga so you could walk to tasting rooms and restaurants. I don't know if you want to be that far north in the Napa Valley though.

Also, I heard that Robert Mondavi Vineyard is the only one that gives winemaking tours anymore. I regret we didn't take the time to do a tour, I think it would have been interesting.

Another option is to hire a driver for a wineries tour. Those roads are filled with people who have been sampling wine, I don't think I would want to bike there. JMO.

I think I prefer the little wineries in Southern Oregon to Napa, but Napa was a good experience.
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Old 06-19-2015, 10:50 PM   #35
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I have not toured Sonoma vineyards, nor Santa Barbara's, though I have passed through the areas a few times. However, I suspect that they are more spread out than Napa. I think what makes Napa Valley unique is that Route 29 takes you through many interesting places within a short distance. From Yountville to Calistoga, it's only 18 miles. It's more crowded for a reason.

I think it's worthwhile to see Napa (we came back several times), but if one can do it outside of the peak season to avoid the crowd and the summer heat, that makes it more enjoyable.
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Old 06-19-2015, 11:47 PM   #36
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In Healdsburg, highly recommend Williamson Wines, just off the square. Beautiful wines, and free wine and food pairings. We never miss it.
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Old 06-20-2015, 07:53 AM   #37
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We first went to Napa on our honeymoon road trip 35 years ago. It was a day trip from SF, and I remember driving on many small highways going through many small towns to get there. There was no I-80 then.

Robert Mondavi was the only winery we visited, and they offered a free tour of the wine pressing, fermentation facility and aging cellars. That was followed by a free wine tasting though we did buy several bottles as souvenir.

Coming out of the winery, we had a nice lunch at a restaurant, which we could not locate on the revisit trips. The place may still be there, but so much has changed. The area was more rural than it is now. Traffic was also nowhere as bad.
I think we went there and had a meal in the 90s. We also went by Domaine Chandon (Mot et Chandon's Napa presence) and got a very detailed overview of the "methode Champenoise" for making sparkling wine. Last week we toured several champagne houses in Champagne, France, and it was fun seeing the same process there.
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Old 06-22-2015, 04:32 PM   #38
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We just got back from Napa, we stopped for two nights on our way back before another stop in Big Sur. Below is a self guided tour article, not comprehensive but helpful. Weather can be really hot during the day but cool at night. We ate at Buchon, good but not great. Couldn't get reservation for The French Laundry. Mondavi tour gives you a little bit of history of the area as well as the winery itself, worth the $30 which also includes tasting of three different wines. We took the first tour at 10:00 am when the weather was still comfortable. Road construction on HWY 29 around St. Helena, congested traffic. So many wineries along HWY 128. We stayed at the Marriott as we are members and used points for one of the two nights, decent room and location.

http://hubpages.com/hub/Self-Guided-...y-Wine-Country


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Old 06-22-2015, 07:57 PM   #39
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Whaa 1G for the French Laundry?

Scratch that off...
Hey, that was for two people! Including wine! No problem for anyone considering delaying SS to age 70 (referencing another thread)!

Well, you don't have to go very high end at all to approach $200 per couple around here (very nice yes, but not 'conspicuous consumption'). So 5x for an 'experience'? I probably wouldn't do it, but I would not absolutely rule it out either.

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The Chef Tasting Menu is currently $295 pp, or just about $400 after tax and tip. Corkage fee for wine brought from home is $150, or @$200 after tax and tip. ...
Whoah - I might come out of retirement if I could charge $200 to open a bottle of wine and pour it into a couple glasses! Serve a few tables, and you have enough for a dinner there!

But I'd need insurance in case I dropped someone's $25,000 bottle of wine

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Old 06-22-2015, 08:09 PM   #40
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If you're looking to dine in Yountville someplace other than the French Laundry, I had a delightful meal a few years ago at Bistro Jeanty. It's a few blocks down Washington St from the FL.
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