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Critique our Napa Itinerary...

Hong Kong, China
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Critique our Napa Itinerary...

We have 1.5 days in Napa next week & I'm finalizing our tasting/tour schedule. We'll be celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary & this is our first time to CA wine country. We are not wine novices, but we aren't very familiar with CA wines. Generally speaking we prefer Rhone-style reds to the big Napa Cabs and we really enjoy smooth dry whites (think Puligny-Montrachet). Please tell me what you think of our itinerary, especially if you think we'll be too rushed. This is meant to be a relaxing vacation & feeling hurried is the last thing I want. What I really want is a good mix of great wineries -- big, small, amazing views, knowledgeable pourers, one or two tours, not packed to the gills -- you get the picture. My biggest challenge is our limited time in the area.

We arrive in Yountville on Thursday & have dinner reservations that night at the French Laundry.

Friday:

Late start because it will be our first chance to sleep late in 2.5 years (the joy of parenthood!)

11 - 12:30 -- John Phelps Wine Appreciation Seminar (is this a waste if you aren't a wine newbie? should we just do the terrace tasting?)

Grab quick lunch at Dean & Deluca & stop off somewhere or (gasp!) eat in the car if short on time

1:30 - 2:45 -- Schramsberg tour & tasting (they also have a 12:30 appt if we decide not to do the seminar at John Phelps)

Maybe Prager Winery & Port Works (we are huge port fans & this is the only port winery I've found in Napa)

Stag's Leap (thinking of getting there by 3:45 b/c they close at 4:30)

Dinner res at 7:30 at Ad Hoc.

Saturday

Check out of hotel & make our way to Healdsburg via:

Pine Ridge - tasting

Frank Family - tasting

Frog's Leap - tour & tasting (I have yet to check their availabilty -- any recs for a replacement just in case?)

That's as far as I've gotten in planning. I still need suggestions on a place for lunch on Saturday that is on the way to Healdsburg. Also, what wineries would you recommend which we would pass enroute to Healdsburg?

We have a driver booked for Sunday in Sonoma & I'm discussing the Sonoma itinerary with him tomorrow -- I'll be sure to post & get your wonerful opinions too!

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1. Re: Critique our Napa Itinerary...

You will love Ad Hoc! Your plans look great, could wait until you get to Healdsburg for lunch? Dry Creek Kitchen is very good there. :)

Hong Kong, China
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2. Re: Critique our Napa Itinerary...

We could do lunch in Healdsburg -- my only hesitations are that our hotel check-in isn't until 3 pm & we have reservations at Cyrus for 8:30 pm. Do you think Dry Creek Kitchen would ruin our appetite for dinner?

Fremont, California
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3. Re: Critique our Napa Itinerary...

Not sure about spending time at the John Phelps Wine Appreciation - is this a favorite wine of yours; then of course, do it. If not, there are 100+ wineries to consider. Frank Family does offer free tasting and some Marilyn Monroe trivia...which if you are a Marilyn Monroe fan, fine to go to. Frankly speaking, there are finer wineries to go to if you are not a Marilyn Monroe trivia fan...

However, if you have done your homework and this is what you want to do, then you will have a good time.

If not, let us know, and we can offer alternative suggestions. (many...)

Fremont, California
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4. Re: Critique our Napa Itinerary...

Congratulations on the French Laundry Reservations...an amazing start to an amazing vacation.

In general, I like your tour. One thing you might want to consider is to do either Prager Port or Frank Family. The reason is that they have similar feel (i.e. family funky environment...although the newer quarters at Frank Family are nicer than they used to be.). If you like Port, I would side with Prager. I like their ports...they have a nice sweet wine wine also...so fun to go to.

On John Phelps...it sounds like you enjoy wine (but are newer to Napa.). Since this is a vacation to celebrate just the 2 of you, I'd opt for terrace tasting...instead of the seminar...giving yourselves more time for lunch.

If you prefer to do a wine and food Pairing (small...so you might want to notch a little bit at other wineries) Robert Sinsky is a nice alternative to have a little bit of food with a nice wine pairing.

http://www.robertsinskey.com/

(note: their web site is in transition, so it won't give you much info...it is a lovely property with knowledgeable pourers and a nice wine and food pairing.)

Two tours you might want to consider as replacement are:

1) Castello di Amoraso - larger winery, good views....interesting place.

http://www.castellodiamorosa.com/

or

2) Chateau Montelena (its close To Calistoga so closer to get to Healdsburg area.).

http://www.montelena.com/

There are 100+ wineries in the area...you might want to just drive to Healdsburg and then check out some of the wineries (such as Hop Kiln) along Westside Road before dinner.

russianrivertravel.com/wineries/westsideroad…

http://www.hopkilnwinery.com/

For lunch, consider the French Bakery in Healdsburg.

Costeaux

http://www.costeaux.com/

Charlotte, North...
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5. Re: Critique our Napa Itinerary...

I have to disagree with the previous poster that Frank Family and Prager are similar. I just visited both last week and I don't think they are similar in the least.

The Prager location is basically a barn where you taste 3-4 ports and petit syrah I believe. Port is there main staple there. My wife isn't a port fan so we didn't make this a long visit but there were very happy to tell you how port is made compared to wine (never new they used brandy!).

Frank family is also a very basic tasting room but the wines are completely different. At Frank you will taste 3-4 sparkling wines and then to the back room to taste 3-4 still wines. We found the Frank pourers to be quite chatty the morning we were there (especially the guy with the still wines in the back).

Napa, CA
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6. Re: Critique our Napa Itinerary...

Cheallaigh-

You've gotten lots of really good feedback-- but we're not sure what's most important to you-- specific wines, atmosphere, tours?

If you're big Rhone fans, is there a reason you're *not* tasting any of these varietals on your tours?

Several local wineries do some spectacular rhone wines-- mostly Syrahs and Viogniers:

-Saddleback Cellars (Syrah & Viognier) Rutherford

-Renard (Viognier & Roussanne)

-Arger Martucci (Petite Sirah)

-Vincent Arroyo (Petite Syrah)

-Ballentine Vineyards (Old Vines & Betty's Vineyard Syrahs)

-Cline Cellars Mourvedre (on the way over to Napa from SF)

-Miner Family (our favorite Viognier, plus other Rhones)

There are many, many other Rhone wineries, esp when you include nearby Sonoma county and a few East Bay wineries (Rosenblum & J.C. Cellars).

Are you planning on making it down to the Monterey area while you're here? One of the most well known Rhone producers (Bonny Doon) is located just northeast of Monterey:

https://www.bonnydoonvineyard.com/

(also others near to Bonny Doon, like Kathryn Kennedy)

Our apologies for making such inappropriate suggestions if that's not what you like or are looking for-- we were scratching our heads trying to figure out why your innkeepers or local wine shop haven't suggested these things. Or perhaps they have, and you are doing "classic Napa reds" instead--

Please let us know-- we can adjust our recommendations!

-The Innkeepers

Napa Old World Inn

PS Perhaps, on your next trip out to CA, you may visit Tablas Creek and L'Aventure down in Paso Robles (also known for their Rhones):

http://www.tablascreek.com/

http://www.aventurewine.com/docs/home.php

Napa, CA
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7. Re: Critique our Napa Itinerary...

Oops- forgot to add:

If you're fond of Puligny-Montrachet, just look for soils in Napa and other wine regions similar to the Côte de Beaune region in France (w/chalk and mineral content).

For instance, in the Napa Valley, this would be upvalley, by Calistoga (though it can get a bit hot), and down in the Carneros in some places.

Look for wines made w/100% malolactic fermentation ("ML") and barrel fermentation, since many Puligny-Montrachet wineries use these techniques to produce their complex, buttery smooth wines.

You'll find quite a few out here (like Peter Michael: http://www.petermichaelwinery.com/ )-- just ask your innkeepers and your local wine shop! :)

-The Innkeepers

Napa Old World Inn

Orange, California
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8. Re: Critique our Napa Itinerary...

I would say go to frank family, Duckhorn is good, but usually crowded. I would also recomend Heitz cellars in st. Helena. Now for an unknown fabulous place, go to Fleury Estate Winery. You will need to make appt, but this wine is great , and not available in stores.

http://www.fleurywinery.com

If in Sonoma Head to the Sonoma cheese store they have great sandwiches, and there are many wineries around with picnic grounds or head across the street to the park.

Hong Kong, China
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9. Re: Critique our Napa Itinerary...

Thanks for all the suggestions -- but now I'm more undecided!

Napa Old World Inn -- you asked why we weren't doing tastings at wineries that do the type of wines we really like -- well, short answer is I didn't think Napa produced them. Long answer involves our local wine store owner's advice. I thought about asking our innkeepers in Yountville, but honestly they have already been less than helpful & I don't want to waste my time.

I checked out Peter Michael's website & their wines sound EXACTLY like what I love. I called & they do not offer tastings to the general public :-( They offer tastings to club members, but the waiting list to join is 6-18 MONTHS long. Makes me want to taste their wines even more! He even said there are no other producers in Napa making whites in the same style that are open to the public. So, the thought of finding a Burgundy-style white in Napa is out the window -- unless you can get us in ;-)

Napa, CA
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10. Re: Critique our Napa Itinerary...

Cheallaigh-

Are you sure your innkeepers are not helping? Napa Valley concierges and innkeepers are world famous for their hospitality and expertise-- so we find this really, really surprising.

Your innkeepers really should be helping you w/this stuff- not because they have to, but because innkeepers/concierges *like* doing this kind of stuff (it's why we're innkeepers-- to help fellow travelers!).

We'd suggest giving them another call-- perhaps you spoke w/a night watchman or something? It just doesn't make sense!

If you do try and have no luck, let us know-- and please, let us know who it is-- most of us are friends, and if there is an inn with one stinkeroo person, chances are the owners or other staff need to know about them, fast, before things get worse!

Peter Michael is a lovely place. We'd suggest you call them up, and chat with them. Tell them what you like, and explain that you just found out about them. Tell them you don't want to be a pest, or a pain-- that you just really love wine. Specifically, Montrachets, etc.

The more you are able to just 'chat', and keep it breezy, the more likely things might happen. Ask them what they'd suggest doing in the Napa Valley-- other wineries they like. Develop rapport. That's our best advice. :)

Please do let us know how you fare w/your innkeepers-- if they are not helping you, you are really not getting your money's worth. Something is amiss.

-The Innkeepers

Napa Old World Inn