First Serious Napa Visit - Where to Go?

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Rob Igel
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First Serious Napa Visit - Where to Go?

#1 Post by Rob Igel » September 9th, 2019, 12:07 pm

For anyone who splits their time between the CellarTracker forum and this fine forum, I'm sorry for the duplicate post...just trying to get as much info as I can!

It wasn't until 2015 when we moved to the CA Central Coast that my wife and I started learning about and appreciating "real" wine (i.e., not grocery store stuff we used to choose by price and label). We took a long weekend trip to Napa in 2016, but our elementary knowledge resulted in us choosing wineries to visit based on travel website reviews and convenience newhere. She is now a manager at a Paso Robles winery and has passed WSET Level 2 and the Intro Somm exam champagne.gif.

We're planning to head back to Napa for a few days this November to celebrate our 10-year anniversary and we'd like to do a better job of picking places to visit that are known for great wine and/or a great tasting room experience (that she's hoping to bring back to improve her tasting room). We've considered breaking up the trip into "southern Napa" and "northern Napa", but for now we'll be staying the whole time in Napa city. That said, we're definitely up for driving north to Yountville, Rutherford, St. Helena and beyond to try more of what the region has to offer. We'll be arriving late Saturday night, so we'll have Sunday thru mid-day Wednesday for wine and tasting experiences.

Should we cancel/modify our Napa hotel reservation and break up our stay into north and south to make better use of driving requirements? If so, how would you space out the two locations? If you have any suggestions of places to stay for $200-300/night, that would be awesome, too!

Where are your go-to places to taste if you're strictly interested in the wine quality?

Where would you go for an exceptional tasting experience? I realize that's open to interpretation, but she's particularly interested in tasting room vibe, service quality, unique tasting opportunities, etc.

Cheers and many thanks!

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Gus Siokis
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Re: First Serious Napa Visit - Where to Go?

#2 Post by Gus Siokis » September 9th, 2019, 5:23 pm

I would check out a number of places on Howell Mountain - O'Shaughnessy, Outpost, Cade, etc. I would highly recommend a visit with Will at Mending Wall/Rivers Marie. I am certain more folks will chime in....also do a search on the forum, tons of folks talking about their visits. Good luck!
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F.Daner
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Re: First Serious Napa Visit - Where to Go?

#3 Post by F.Daner » September 10th, 2019, 8:52 am

Hi Rob- welcome to the board. This topic may see more hits on the main Wine Talk thread. You hit many topics so I'll do my best.

Hotel- very tough to find $200-300 per night anywhere in Napa outside of downtown though November is tail end of prime season. You could find that rate w VRBO , Arbnb though or Yountville could be a great option for one location and you may see that rate. It's also an awesome town loaded with great restaurants. St Helena has where we have stayed mostly but always via VRBO. Mostly because most of our visits were done between Yountville and Calistoga and very rarely did we do tasting rooms but visits with smaller production wineries to either try their wines and buy or the ones we were already customers of. The challenge with Napa is the cost of the better wines. They are outstanding and the visits are excellent but you typically either join the mailing list, purchase wine or both.

Our best tasting room experience was at Turnbull. They don't always get the love they should but their vineyards in Oakville are outstanding and their wine club makes their best wines a good value in Napa. We had a great experience. It was a walk in as well but we did buy wine and joined there club.

Howell Mountain is a great location for unique visits. I'd recommend Lamborn, Robert Craig( one of my all time favorites and best values) and Outpost. You can do all 3 though it will take the entire day. You can picnic at them as well if you ask ahead.

Mike and Leah Smith- Myriad and Quivet p They make their wines and Carter and other clients at the Envy Winery in Calistoga. Envy has a nice tasting room and usually has some of Mike's wines to try.

Mending Wall in St Helena by Thomas Rivers Brown is a great tasting room visit and beautiful winery.

Trespass in St Helena is an awesome experience tasting in the middle of their 4 acre vineyard.

Freemark Abbey, Clos Du Val and Honig would be other good options for tasting rooms.

Blankiet, Fairchild, Kapcsandy, Trespass, Myriad and Detert, have been some of our favorite private tastings.

That's it for now and I'm sure I'm forgetting a bunch. Will check back later.

Cheers
Fred

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Re: First Serious Napa Visit - Where to Go?

#4 Post by Howard Cooper » September 11th, 2019, 1:38 pm

Since you are still early in the learning phase, I suggest you start with the classics. Before you go, read Judgement of Paris. Then, go taste at some of the wineries still around that are discussed in the book. Mayacamas, Stag's Leap (where I have not visited but hope to sometime), Forman, Chateau Montelena, Grgich Hills, Stony Hill, and Ridge - although you have to drive about 45 minutes to Sonoma County to get to Ridge's Lytton Springs winery. You have the rest of your life to learn about neat new wineries. First, get yourself a real grounding in the classics. Walk before you run. And, don't miss Ridge. It is probably the best large winery in the world.

This hotel should fit your needs https://elbonita.com/ - right on the main highway and most importantly is near here https://www.longmeadowranch.com/eat-drink/restaurant
Last edited by Howard Cooper on September 11th, 2019, 1:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Todd F r e n c h
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Re: First Serious Napa Visit - Where to Go?

#5 Post by Todd F r e n c h » September 11th, 2019, 1:40 pm

Great recommendations here! I was going to suggest several that already have been suggested!
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Rob Igel
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Re: First Serious Napa Visit - Where to Go?

#6 Post by Rob Igel » September 13th, 2019, 1:30 pm

F.Daner wrote:
September 10th, 2019, 8:52 am
Hi Rob- welcome to the board. This topic may see more hits on the main Wine Talk thread. You hit many topics so I'll do my best.

Hotel- very tough to find $200-300 per night anywhere in Napa outside of downtown though November is tail end of prime season. You could find that rate w VRBO , Arbnb though or Yountville could be a great option for one location and you may see that rate. It's also an awesome town loaded with great restaurants. St Helena has where we have stayed mostly but always via VRBO. Mostly because most of our visits were done between Yountville and Calistoga and very rarely did we do tasting rooms but visits with smaller production wineries to either try their wines and buy or the ones we were already customers of. The challenge with Napa is the cost of the better wines. They are outstanding and the visits are excellent but you typically either join the mailing list, purchase wine or both.

Our best tasting room experience was at Turnbull. They don't always get the love they should but their vineyards in Oakville are outstanding and their wine club makes their best wines a good value in Napa. We had a great experience. It was a walk in as well but we did buy wine and joined there club.

Howell Mountain is a great location for unique visits. I'd recommend Lamborn, Robert Craig( one of my all time favorites and best values) and Outpost. You can do all 3 though it will take the entire day. You can picnic at them as well if you ask ahead.

Mike and Leah Smith- Myriad and Quivet p They make their wines and Carter and other clients at the Envy Winery in Calistoga. Envy has a nice tasting room and usually has some of Mike's wines to try.

Mending Wall in St Helena by Thomas Rivers Brown is a great tasting room visit and beautiful winery.

Trespass in St Helena is an awesome experience tasting in the middle of their 4 acre vineyard.

Freemark Abbey, Clos Du Val and Honig would be other good options for tasting rooms.

Blankiet, Fairchild, Kapcsandy, Trespass, Myriad and Detert, have been some of our favorite private tastings.

That's it for now and I'm sure I'm forgetting a bunch. Will check back later.

Cheers
If you've forgotten a bunch, I'm glad for now...you gave us a lot to look into! Thanks! A lot of quality wineries around us (Paso Robles, Edna Valley, Santa Ynez/Santa Barbara, etc.) will waive the tasting fee if you spend a minimum amount on wine or if you buy a minimum number of bottles. Are the higher quality Napa wineries similar, or will they charge the tasting fee regardless of what is purchased afterward?

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Re: First Serious Napa Visit - Where to Go?

#7 Post by F.Daner » September 14th, 2019, 11:04 pm

Rob- 2 experiences with higher end wineries

Napa is similar in that hose that have tasting rooms/tours etc have always waived fee with purchase or joining their wine clubs for our visits and I would assume for everyone else.
Smaller boutique wineries generally won't charge a fee but are hoping you purchase wine if you enjoy the visit.
Fred

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