Napa First timer

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T.L. Reasoner
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Napa First timer

#1 Post by T.L. Reasoner » February 7th, 2018, 1:02 am

Myself and 4 others are going to Napa from 9/5 - 9/8. Any suggestions for great experience. Looking for mostly Reds any and all types. As well as any other suggestions you might have.
Aloha,

Tracy

Michael Martin
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Napa First timer

#2 Post by Michael Martin » February 7th, 2018, 9:04 am

I would try and do one or more of the reservation only tastings. They are more interesting, the depth of wines are better, but expect to pay for the privilege. Many of the walk up tastings are sort of mundane and not always worth the price. So plan in advance. Napa is an adult Disneyland. Expect to spend more than you think.

Food is usually good. I've had good luck in general in Yountville on the moderate price end of the spectrum. If you stay there, you can walk to most of the better options.

Watch out for the California highway patrol. Last time we were there, they were very evident and pulled over a DUI right in front of the restaurant patio where we were dining.

On the high end try and get to https://aubergedusoleil.aubergeresorts.com/ for dinner or at least a glass of wine on the patio at sunset. Meadowood http://www.meadowood.com/ in the bar or restaurant is also a world class meal. Can't say anything about the French Laundry since I have never been there, but it has its fans.

There are also two wineries in Stag's Leap named Stags' Leap and Stag's Leap. Both were part of the infamous million dollar apostrophe trial. One you want to go to, the other not so much.
On a side note, after palate fatique during the day, we discovered some wonderful Sonoma Pinots dining at night. So make sure you check out the wines of the valley right next door.

Have fun. Post pictures when you get back.

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Napa First timer

#3 Post by Rich Salsano » February 8th, 2018, 5:40 am

Agree that you want to stick with reservation tastings with the exception being Heitz Cellars. I would include them for sure. Walk in and no tasting fee and still pouring some classic Napa Cabernet and Zinfandel and typically a library vintage as well.

I would try to spend a day visiting mountain wineries on either Spring or Howell mountain. I love Napa wines made from mountain fruit. We have had great experiences with Smith Madrone and Stony Hill on Spring Mountain.

For restaurants, Yountville definitely has some good restaurants (we love Bottega) and the 2 places mentioned above are really very nice but definitely on the pricey side. I would also recommend Press Steakhouse (great wine list with lots of older vintages), as well as some classic joints like Bistro Don Giovanni, Mustards Grill, etc.

There are soooooo many options and you will probably get 20 different recommendations from 20 different people.
Richard Salsano

Chris Echeck
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#4 Post by Chris Echeck » February 8th, 2018, 3:09 pm

Make sure to hit up Alpha Omega. Their cab tasting is amazing. You can contact Jean on the boards here.

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Randy Bowman
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Napa First timer

#5 Post by Randy Bowman » February 8th, 2018, 7:11 pm

You might want start at the site below. It has links to the 542 Napa wineries, has maps and travel planning. Use the maps to make sure you have time to get between wineries in time as well routes that take you to a restaurant for lunch between tastings. Allow ample time between tastings. Everything looks close on a map but roads and traffic can be horrific at certain times of the day.

https://napavintners.com/wineries/
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Re: Napa First timer

#6 Post by Joe Chanley » March 16th, 2019, 5:48 am

Bumping this thread....any recent thoughts on hotels for Napa and Sonoma that are nice but not $900 a night?

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George Hejna
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Re: Napa First timer

#7 Post by George Hejna » March 16th, 2019, 10:16 am

Stayed here this past week. It was nice. Get a room on the 2nd floor not the 1st. Was reasonable for the area. Location just OK. We chose it as we were having a dinner at Single Thread and it was reasonably close and price was good.

https://www.vintnersinn.com

George

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Re: Napa First timer

#8 Post by Rick Allen » March 16th, 2019, 11:37 am

George Hejna wrote:
March 16th, 2019, 10:16 am
Stayed here this past week. It was nice. Get a room on the 2nd floor not the 1st. Was reasonable for the area. Location just OK. We chose it as we were having a dinner at Single Thread and it was reasonably close and price was good.

https://www.vintnersinn.com

George
When we stayed at the Vintners Inn several years ago it was in Sonoma. Has it moved?

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George Hejna
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Re: Napa First timer

#9 Post by George Hejna » March 16th, 2019, 1:05 pm

Rick Allen wrote:
March 16th, 2019, 11:37 am
George Hejna wrote:
March 16th, 2019, 10:16 am
Stayed here this past week. It was nice. Get a room on the 2nd floor not the 1st. Was reasonable for the area. Location just OK. We chose it as we were having a dinner at Single Thread and it was reasonably close and price was good.

https://www.vintnersinn.com

George
When we stayed at the Vintners Inn several years ago it was in Sonoma. Has it moved?
It's just North of Santa Rosa so no it hasn't moved. Like I said not a great location especially if focusing on Napa but certainly good Sonoma wineries relatively close by. Price is reasonable.

George

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Howard Cooper
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Re: Napa First timer

#10 Post by Howard Cooper » March 16th, 2019, 3:35 pm

For your first visit, I would visit some of the classic wineries - Chateau Montelena, Ridge (if you want to drive to Sonoma County), Forman and Heitz would all fit the bill.

For dinner, on our last trip there, I really enjoyed the Farmstead At Long Meadow Ranch in Saint Helena. There certainly are fancier restaurants in the Napa Valley but I wonder how many are better. A real farm to table restaurant.
Howard

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Randy Bowman
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Re: Napa First timer

#11 Post by Randy Bowman » March 16th, 2019, 8:12 pm

If you are considering Napa, check out some of the B&B's. Nothing is cheap anymore but there are B&B's that have either great location or ambiance at the same or less cost than the hotel/motels, plus you get breakfast without the noise of a restaurant. Sonoma hotels/motels/B&B are cheaper than Napa. If you like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Sonoma County has some of the best.
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Troy Stark
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Re: Napa First timer

#12 Post by Troy Stark » March 19th, 2019, 5:04 pm

Rich Salsano wrote:
February 8th, 2018, 5:40 am
We have had great experiences with Smith Madrone...
+1 for Smith Madrone. Best tasting experience in Napa. It's like going back to a different era.
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Troy Stark
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Re: Napa First timer

#13 Post by Troy Stark » March 19th, 2019, 5:06 pm

Howard Cooper wrote:
March 16th, 2019, 3:35 pm
For your first visit, I would visit some of the classic wineries - Chateau Montelena, Ridge (if you want to drive to Sonoma County), Forman and Heitz would all fit the bill.
I would skip Montelena. The grounds are beautiful, no doubt, but the tasting experience is very, very mediocre.

I would say Schramsberg is another good place to visit.
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Howard Cooper
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Re: Napa First timer

#14 Post by Howard Cooper » March 19th, 2019, 8:00 pm

Troy Stark wrote:
March 19th, 2019, 5:06 pm
Howard Cooper wrote:
March 16th, 2019, 3:35 pm
For your first visit, I would visit some of the classic wineries - Chateau Montelena, Ridge (if you want to drive to Sonoma County), Forman and Heitz would all fit the bill.
I would skip Montelena. The grounds are beautiful, no doubt, but the tasting experience is very, very mediocre.

I would say Schramsberg is another good place to visit.
The tasting experience at Montelena varies a lot in my experience between whether you do the basic tasting or one of their more special tastings.
Howard

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Troy Stark
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Re: Napa First timer

#15 Post by Troy Stark » March 20th, 2019, 4:44 am

Howard Cooper wrote:
March 19th, 2019, 8:00 pm
The tasting experience at Montelena varies a lot in my experience between whether you do the basic tasting or one of their more special tastings.
Well... my wife had been working in distribution actively selling their wines. The tasting was set up a month in advance through her connections. They treated us like Joe Schmoe who walked in off the street and requested that we share the tasting, which was three current release wines. Definitely didn't feel very special.

No tour, no barrel samples, no visit with the winemaker or even the hospitality director. We tasted at the standard tasting bar for all of 15 minutes and left.

If that's the way they treat people who move hundreds of cases of their wine, I'm not sure I believe any of their tastings would be special...
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Re: Napa First timer

#16 Post by Howard Cooper » March 20th, 2019, 5:45 am

Troy Stark wrote:
March 20th, 2019, 4:44 am
Howard Cooper wrote:
March 19th, 2019, 8:00 pm
The tasting experience at Montelena varies a lot in my experience between whether you do the basic tasting or one of their more special tastings.
Well... my wife had been working in distribution actively selling their wines. The tasting was set up a month in advance through her connections. They treated us like Joe Schmoe who walked in off the street and requested that we share the tasting, which was three current release wines. Definitely didn't feel very special.

No tour, no barrel samples, no visit with the winemaker or even the hospitality director. We tasted at the standard tasting bar for all of 15 minutes and left.

If that's the way they treat people who move hundreds of cases of their wine, I'm not sure I believe any of their tastings would be special...
It is a shame that your experience there was poor and I believe you that they did not treat you correctly based on what you have said. I have seen while waiting for a sit-down tasting that the stand up tastings at the bar do not seem very special. By contrast, our sit down tastings there have been quite nice. I think they have taken about an hour or so and have gone through a variety of their wines - including 2-3 vintages of the Estate Cabernet. I have done this on at least 3 occasions, last time about 3-4 years ago. I have never just done a tasting at the standard tasting bar, but I am basing my comments on what I have actually experienced, not on belief.

Note that I have seen other similar experiences at other California wineries. My first visit to Ridge's main winery in the Santa Cruz mountains was a rushed tasting at the bar in a very, very crowded room. On my second visit there we paid for a tour and seated tasting. Much, much better experience.

As for visits with the winemaker, get an appointment with a good small winery in Burgundy or Alsace. I have had real opportunities to talk with the people owning and making the wines there. In California, not so much, except at Stony Hill where I have talked with members of the family that until recently owned the winery.
Howard

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Troy Stark
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Re: Napa First timer

#17 Post by Troy Stark » March 20th, 2019, 6:10 am

Howard Cooper wrote:
March 20th, 2019, 5:45 am
It is a shame that your experience there was poor and I believe you that they did not treat you correctly based on what you have said.
It really was a shame. That's well put. It was the tasting we were most excited about. We scheduled it first thing in the morning and had nothing else scheduled until after lunch because we incorrectly assumed we would be there for a while.

The kicker is this; after the tasting, I posted a negative Yelp review. Keep in mind my Yelp account is not easily traced back to me and I didn't work for the distributor my wife worked for. Montelena (or someone?) did some digging and figured out it was our visit that resulted in the negative review. The distributor then bullied us into taking down the review.

What struck me is that there was not even a shred of concern expressed about whether the content of the review was accurate. There was no apology or any indication of a desire to "make it right" or to take accountability. Just a desire to stifle the truth and vaguely threaten someone's job.

Such a shame.
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Re: Napa First timer

#18 Post by Joe Chanley » March 20th, 2019, 9:25 am

Thanks all.....I’ve been twice before, but not since 2012.

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Re: Napa First timer

#19 Post by John Davis » March 20th, 2019, 10:01 am

Troy Stark wrote:
March 19th, 2019, 5:06 pm
Howard Cooper wrote:
March 16th, 2019, 3:35 pm
For your first visit, I would visit some of the classic wineries - Chateau Montelena, Ridge (if you want to drive to Sonoma County), Forman and Heitz would all fit the bill.
I would skip Montelena. The grounds are beautiful, no doubt, but the tasting experience is very, very mediocre.

I would say Schramsberg is another good place to visit.
Our experience at Montelena was poor as well. And as far as Heint is concerned, our experience was so bad in the mid 90s that I have not bought, sold, or intentionally consumed a Heitz wine since. They must have been having a terrible day because it does get recommended a lot here which is something.

JD
ITB

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Re: Napa First timer

#20 Post by EHeffner » March 21st, 2019, 10:29 am

First timer here, Going in May. We have we finalized Shramsburg as well as frogs leap. We are currently deciding between Chappellet, Stony Hill and Cade as we want to check out a site with some elevation. Any recommendations regarding those three?
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Troy Stark
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Re: Napa First timer

#21 Post by Troy Stark » March 21st, 2019, 11:35 am

Yes, go to Smith Madrone instead. :D
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Re: Napa First timer

#22 Post by EHeffner » March 21st, 2019, 1:07 pm

Troy Stark wrote:
March 21st, 2019, 11:35 am
Yes, go to Smith Madrone instead. :D
Unfortunately, they are closed on tuesdays and the it Monday is already booked. Also looking at Aonair as they have the mountain fruits as well as more intimate tasting
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