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napa trip report

Richardson,TX
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napa trip report

Here's a brief summary of my 3 day Napa trip last week.

WINERIES

Wonderful:

Del Dotto (by appt)

Peju

Kelham (by appt)

Frank Family

Mondavi (very infromative tour)

Pleasant:

Mum

Artesa

Bouchaine

Domaine Carneros

Grgich Hills

Cakebread

Somewhat Disappointing:

Cline

Pine Ridge

Franciscan

Goosecross

FOOD

All food experiences were wonderful:

Mustards - For lunch. The salad special with apples was stupendous, pork chop one of the best ever. Next time I'll have to try the salmon!

Dean & Deluce - lunch. Picked up sandwich, pate', cheese and bread and ate at the Pine Ridge picnic tables. Besides the bees buzzing around us at Pine Ridge, a lovely experience.

Don Giovanni - we were warned about the noise, but we didn't mind. The service started out slow, but the waiter was always friendly. Peach Salad, pasta strips, sole were fabulous.

Bistro Jeanty - Small, nice french bistro. Escargos overrated. Tomato soup great, but is it that much better than La Madeline? Hanger Steak, Filet, Rabbit all were incredible.

BED AND BREAKFAST

Candelight-Inn

Despite the somewhat funky location, this was a beautiful place. Excellent staff, and OMG, the breakfast was as good as most dinners we had.

Feel free to ask me any questions!

-scott

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Napa
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Napa Valley, CA
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Napa, CA
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1. Re: napa trip report

sclem-

Very cool! Glad you had a good time, and it's terrific that you posted a trip report. I'm hoping more and more folks do this (we seem to have hundreds of people who ask questions before they go, and precious few who talk about their experiences once they get back).

We usually save the Del Dotto tour for last, and recommend that our guests go to Mondavi's tour first (that way, they pick up wine knowledge at Mondavi that they can apply to other wineries, and the quantity of wine at Del Dotto doesn't wipe them out for the rest of their stay!).

Did you take this approach, or do it in a different order?

And overall, knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?

Delighted you had a great time!

-Russ Herschelmann

Innkeeper

Napa Old World Inn

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Napa
Napa
Napa Valley, CA
Richardson,TX
4 posts
1 review
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2. Re: napa trip report

Russ,

>>We usually save the Del Dotto tour for last, and recommend that our guests go to Mondavi's tour first (that way, they pick up wine knowledge at Mondavi that they can apply to other wineries, and the quantity of wine at Del Dotto doesn't wipe them out for the rest of their stay!). Did you take this approach, or do it in a different order?

Yes! I read many of your posts before the trip and took your advise, booking the 3:30 (last) Del Dotto tour.

I also drank ALOT of water that day, and ate alot more than usual that prior to drinking. This meant that I was visiting the Men's room once or twice at each winery, but it was well worth it: I drank (and spat) plenty of alcohol but did not get drunk. I also found that drinking the water and eating crackers helped keep my palate from getting too tired.

My first target into town was the Mondavi tour, although I stopped at Domain Carneros on the way into Napa for my wife. I laid out here, anticipating more drinking later. Besides the lovely setting, they had a nice cheese platter and Pinots that looked fabulous. I regret not spending more time here but I wanted to get to Mondavi since I knew the tour would take up much time. I was right, as we probably spent over 2 hours there (waiting for the next tour, and over 1.5 hours for the tour itself). No matter, it was worth it.

By the time we were through with the tour, though, it was after 2:00 and we pushed to get into as many wineries as we could before 5:00. I did not drink as much water that first day and by the end my palate was tired and I didn't even drink wine at dinner that night (shocking for a me!).

>>And overall, knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?

No real regrets except not having more days to tour. I loved the smaller estate wineries like Kelham and Frank Family. Of course the people at the wineries make the experience.

>>Delighted you had a great time!

It was awesome. Can't wait until the next time.

-scott

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Napa
Napa
Napa Valley, CA
Cincinnati
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3. Re: napa trip report

Scott,

Thank you for your post. We are staying at the Candlelight Inn in April. I chose it from the positive postings on this site. Which room did you stay in? What do you mean by funky location - is it not too convenient? We have never been to Napa and have only two days/nights there. I really appreciate your vineyard suggestions as well as dining. How many vineyards did you tour each day? Did you have reservations for all? Was Candlelight close to the vineyards you toured?

We will definitely go to Del Dotto and Mondavi from everyones suggestions. Thanks Scott.

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Napa
Napa
Napa Valley, CA
Richardson,TX
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4. Re: napa trip report

Hi cvgtravelers -

>>We are staying at the Candlelight Inn in April. I chose it from the positive postings on this site. Which room did you stay in?

We stayed in the Winemaker room. It is accessible from the dining area and on the bottom floor. Nice room, moderate amount of space. The only negatives is that the floor squeaked when we walked on it and we could hear people above us walk at night. This was not a problem for us, just "homey". Nice bathroom with shower and tub and it has a little hallway between the bathroom and the bedroom.

>>What do you mean by funky location - is it not too convenient?

Probably poor choice of words on my part. The location itself is fine: easy to get to from Hwy 29 (the main strip), although it is South of most of the wineries and restaurants. A more convenient location might be in the middle or northern part of town (However at most, it took us 20 minutes to get to dinner and 30 to get to some northern wineries). When we arrived it took me by surprise because the neighborhood itself is not very lush. The Inn is a very nice big old house at the end of a culdesac. I do not know what is typical for Napa B&Bs, so take my description with a grain of salt. I am used to staying at nice big hotels with a lot of privacy. I have limited experience with B&Bs. This is more like staying at some friend's cozy house (although don't get me wrong, people do respect your privacy). I loved the following: it was very clean and had more than enough amenities; the hosts were friendly and gave great advice about wineries; first class breakfast; the trees and yard in general is emaculate; chatting with other guests. I would definitely recommend it.

>>We have never been to Napa and have only two days/nights there. I really appreciate your vineyard suggestions as well as dining. How many vineyards did you tour each day?

Although I would've loved to get in 10 wineries in per day, I think we averaged about 5. Here's a full day: 1 -2 wineries in the morning, stretching past noon. Lunch. Another 3 in the afternoon. Of course tours take longer, but I recommend one or 2 per day.

Most wineries close at 4:30, a few at 5:00,a couple at 6:00. Of course you can plan for this if you want to optimize, for example, visit Peju at 4:30. However, a host at Peju told us they are packed in the afteroon because of this. Again, much more than 5-6 and you will just be rushing to make a goal. The most fun is when you can just enjoy the moment at the current winery, chat with other folks and ask a lot of questions. This is coming from a goal-oriented wine enthusiast.

>>Did you have reservations for all?

For dinner: yes. Lunch: no. Some wineries: yes. I called Del Dotto a week in advance, and the Innkeeper did another one the morning we went.

>>Was Candlelight close to the vineyards you toured?

(See above) Close enough, I think.

Cheers,

Scott

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Napa
Napa
Napa Valley, CA
Cincinnati
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38 posts
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5. Re: napa trip report

Thanks again for your help. I think I will keep my reservations at the Candlelight - we are staying in the Candlelight Suite. I like your advice about enjoying the vineyards and not rushing. In the two days I think we will go to Peju, Mondavi, Del Dotto, Sterling. Artesa, V Sattui, Frogs Leap and Frank Family. I thought I would try to get reservations at the French Laundry but wont hold my breath. And there seems to be such good other restaurants without spending a fortune. Thanks again Scott.

Liz

Egg Harbor Twp, NJ
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6. Re: napa trip report

Scott,

We will be spending 3-4 days in Napa the first week of Nov, and have several wineries on our list that match yours. Could you please elaborate on what you liked (or didn't like) about them. The ones on our list include:

Kelham, Frank Family, Mondavi, Grgich Hills, Cakebread, Franciscan, and Goosecross.

We are especially interested in what you didn't like about Goosecross.

Thanks

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Napa
Napa
Napa Valley, CA
Richardson,TX
4 posts
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7. Re: napa trip report

carieff -

I have observed that people can go to the same winery and have dramatically different experiences depending on the server and the other people present at the time. And of course people have different tastes.

Here's what I liked and didn't like about the following wineries.

(Note: wherever possible I tasted the Reserves while my wife tasted the standards. I usually sampled both.)

Kelham - A family run winery, one of the sons, Ron, sat us at a big (rustic?) dining table in a family room and served us personally. What a cool guy. He told us the story of Kelham, and we loved it and all of his wines. Another couple that was with us purchased some unique artwork that Kelham had comissioned. Regarding the wines, he had a fabulous Sauvignon Blanc and some nice, mostly softer style Cabernet Sauvignons and full bodied Merlot. All of the wines were very accessible, and a couple of them excellent. You will be inclined to purchase some because it's such a personal setting.

Frank Family - You'll love Jeff, who runs the tasting like a dealer in a card game(?) and gets you involved. Funny guy. The Chardonnay was to-die-for, some incredible Cabs, and a nice Zin.

Mondavi - the tour. The guide was informative and witty. A couple of pretty tasty wines, but I wouldn't go there for the wine specifically since I can find it anywhere.

Grgich Hills - My wife had been here several years ago and wanted to go back, especially for the Violetta. A pleasant little place.

Cakebread - A few nice reserve cabs, but too expensive for the wine, IMHO. This was a nice place, but I wouldn't go out of my way to go here.

Franciscan - One of my least favorite spot. I was not impressed with any of the wines and some of them were repugnant to me. Was my palette worn out? Possibly. It was the last stop of the first day. I was also thought the servers could have been more informative, although they were pleasant people.

Goosecross - I had high expectations for this winery because it was recommended by the Innkeeper and another guest. I really don't know why. I did not find the place to be unique, nor the wines to be special. They have a small bar and it got crowded quickly while we were there. The server was overwhelmed for a while until another server came to help her out. Again, very pleasant person, but too busy at that time to be informative.

Here's a couple other ones think about:

Peju - I HIGHLY recommend this winery. The wines are excellent and the server Daniel is very informative. I would put the Peju wine above most that I went to except possibly Del Dotto.

Artesa - This is a very picturesque winery, on top of a hill overlooking vineyards with fountains and a waterfall running down the steps. I liked a few of their wines, too, but would not travel there strictly for the wines.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

-scott

California
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8. Re: napa trip report

Just weighing in with another opinion about Pine Ridge. We stopped in on a weekday, found it extremely friendly, low-key, and the wines were excellent (especially the cabs and chenin blanc). Small room, very personal. I think so much of it has to do with the time of day, how busy they are, and your expectations. the valley has something for everybody - you just have to find it!

Columbus Ohio
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9. Re: napa trip report

Can you tell me a little about Del Dotto and why you liked it so much?