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Wineries....so many to choose from Help

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Canada
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Wineries....so many to choose from Help

I have a long list that supposed to be the "must visit" winery list, but it is not going to happen.

Can you guys PLEASE have a look over this list and see if there are any obviously places we can skip, or some that I've neglected all together.

There are four of us, we are more into reds, syrah, shiraz, merlot, but also enjoy some whites, not any that are too flowery, or sparkling, but all others are fair game. We have 3 days total, and are planning on hiring a driver for one full day of touring.

Here's the list

Del Dotto

Frog Leap

Goose Across

Elyse

Hop Kiln (Sonoma)

Castello di Aorosa (tour)

Peju

St Clement

Cakebread Cellars

Fess Parker....only because of Sideways, but if its an easy scratch then it'll be out

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1. Re: Wineries....so many to choose from Help

We were just at Goosecross Cellars a couple of weeks ago, keep that one. Also keep Del Dotto for their amazing Cave Merlot. We also love Nicholson Ranch and Domaine Carneros in this area for their Pinot Noir.

Three days is a nice amount of time in the area, in the Sonoma area, try to get over to Kenwood, Ledson and Chateau St. Jean. Have fun! :)

united states
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2. Re: Wineries....so many to choose from Help

gg, I think that you can manage all of these places if you have 3 full days to work with...unless you were planning to tour all of them as well. 3-5 wineries in a day is not unreasonable at all.

As for Hop Kiln in Sonoma county, my suggestion would be to make one day a Sonoma day, and as you have a preferred place to visit slated, plan a few other nearby wineries to see as well. My first hand "west of 101" knowledge isn't too good before you get to Healdsburg, but we do really enjoy Rodney Strong ( even though they are big producers they have some really wonderful estate and reserve wines in the tasting room, as well as an interesting self-guided tour) and Seghesio wouldn't be out of the question either and they have FABULOUS zinfandels. Others on my " one day I'll get there" list in that area are Hook and Ladder, Sunce`, and Martin Ray.

I wouldn't try to bounce all over the county as the distances are further than you think, and you can easily waste half of your day driving.

Clermont, Florida
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3. Re: Wineries....so many to choose from Help

There aren't a ton of exceptional syrah producers in the Napa Valley--that's more often found in more arid areas such as Paso Robles or Walla Walla.

Buoncristiani, Araujo Estate, and Merryvale all make notable Syrahs. Buoncristiani will sometimes be able to accomodate a tasting with a prior appointment. Araujo Estate is not open to the public. Merryvale is open by appointment.

It seems like almost everyone makes merlot, Cakebread's is good, as is Jarvis'. Duckhorn, Shafer, and Nickel and Nickel probably make some of the best merlot in the Napa valley, and all are available by appointment.

Looking at your list you are doing a lot of driving. I might consider saving the Sonoma wineries for another trip. Frankly I am not a fan of Castello di Amorosa, unless you just want to see the castle. Don't go for the wine.

I would probably skip St. Clement and Peju. Considering it's your first trip, you might want to start with a tour and tasting at Mondavi where you'll get a really good overview on the history of Napa and how wine is made.

united states
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4. Re: Wineries....so many to choose from Help

Another thought for you to consider, gg, would be to take Hop Kiln out of the agenda for this trip since it is quite a long way from the Napa area, and perhaps visit Sonoma Valley if you'd still like to get a bit of Sonoma wines into this trip.

If you take that option, then I think that you would enjoy a trip to Loxton in Glen Ellen- Chris Loxton is from an Austrailian winemaking family and his Shiraz is terrific- and be sure to taste his Shiraz Port if you go; Blackstone in Kenwood- though usually associated with Merlot as that is their big production wine, they also make a surprisingly good Syrah ; and Ravenswood as they are known for their Zinfandel and you know what THEY say...'No Wimpy Wines'.

Portland, Oregon
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5. Re: Wineries....so many to choose from Help

It's not clear; are you planning to visit all of these places on the day you're hiring the driver, or will you be tasting the other days too?

Regardless, scratch Fess Parker. It's nowhere near Napa Valley. And if you have just the one day, I'm not sure Hop Kiln in Sonoma makes much sense either. As for the others on your list, I'm with lovescabs; don't go out of your way for Peju and St. Clement. Might say the same for Goosecross. My wife likes their syrah, and I like one of their cabs, but the overall tasting experience isn't as nice as at many other places; tiny, make-shift tasting room in a corner of the winery building. I'm curious as to why/how you chose it (and why syrahgirl's recommending it).

Edited: 30 March 2010, 21:33
Canada
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6. Re: Wineries....so many to choose from Help

Thank you for all your suggestions. I think there are a few I'll scratch....and maybe a few more to add.

Rereading my original post I realize I wasn't totally clear, we are doing one day for strictly wine, and then the other days we'll be touring around town, Oxbow market and just relaxing around the hotel. I think we'll likely do Castello on one of the other days so that can free up more time on the wine day. Yes, we're doing it only for the castle.

Gooseacross - I added it to the list because it has alot of great reviews here and on yelp. Is it way out of the way?

Mill Valley/Marin...
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7. Re: Wineries....so many to choose from Help

Surprisingly, I enjoyed the tasting at Castello di Amoroso and bought several bottles, when i just thought I was going to see the castle.

Enjoy.

Windsor, California
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8. Re: Wineries....so many to choose from Help

If you're doing "one day for strictly wine" you are going to need a much shorter list especially if one stop is at Del Blotto. I would keep St. Clement since your heart is set on Castello (nearby). St. Clement has some good value (for Napa) in cabs, merlot, syrah and chardonnay. I would also suggest searching a wine site like winespectator.com for recs......there are many for Napa. If you do run over to the Russian River area for Hop Kiln, you can do much better like Rochioli next door.

united states
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9. Re: Wineries....so many to choose from Help

Well I sure feel foolish......did not get that your list was for a single day of wine. Given that, I wouldn't try to get to the Sonoma area on this trip as you will have plenty of options that are more convenient.

Portland, Oregon
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10. Re: Wineries....so many to choose from Help

No, Goosecross isn't far out of your way. It just doesn't seem to fit with other wineries you've picked to visit. Nice wines for sure, but few of the varietals you prefer, and no beautiful grounds, castles, views, etc.