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Napa vs. Finger Lakes

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Syracuse, New York
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Napa vs. Finger Lakes

First, thanks for your advice.

I am coming to the Napa Valley for the first time on tues 4/26. I have experience tasting wine and learning about wine making in the Finger Lakes Region of NYS, and also Tuscany in Italy. I mostly enjoy full-bodied reds, but am interested in comparing the three regions and experiencing what Napa has to offer.

We will start in Napa and work our way to Calistoga. My main question is: are there any wineries where I should make a reservation? I am slightly overwhelmed by the sheer #'s and feel more like stopping randomly (I am taking notes and have tons of places in mind). I just wonder if I will miss anything spectacular that is reservation-only...

Thanks again

Cheers

united states
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1. Re: Napa vs. Finger Lakes

Only you can know what will be important to you along the way, but there are a number of websites that offer itinerary possibilites that include both drop-in and by-appointment wineries. Perhaps it would help to take a look at some of those ideas and see if any of your wineries of interest are either included or in good proximity to those mentioned.

A couple of suggestions: www.winecountrygetaways.com ; www.winecountry.com ; www.wine-pages.com ; and the archived articles for the following magazines may offer some interesting suggestions: Touring and Tasting, Sunset Magazine, and NapaSonoma.

All of these include some combination of wine reviews and tasting room experiences. Lodging and dining suggestions are included in some of them as well.

I know that you are already feeling overwhelmed with information, but perhaps these suggestions are 'directed" enough to be of help.

Napa, CA
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2. Re: Napa vs. Finger Lakes

To all:

The "what's your favorite winery/restaurant/Napa Valley place" question is often asked on these forums, and it gets great answers. We don't want to discourage that.

But we have a problem: After going to nearly 100 wineries, over 50 local restaurants (many world class), and doing everything from hiking and biking to hot air ballooning-- it's darn near impossible for us to just list a few favorites (we have so many!)

We love it when our guests share their day w/other guests during the wine reception-- talking about their favorite wineries, places to eat, etc. That's part of the B&B experience.

But the more places you go to, the harder it becomes to recommend just a few. There really are that many exceptional spots in the Napa and Sonoma Valleys.

This abundance of amazing places is one of the big reasons so many folks come back for a second, third, or fifteenth visit: So many great things to see and do!

So when we give our standard advice (below), please don't take it as brushing off the poster. It's just that the more places you go to, the harder it is to recommend just a few-- without asking a bunch of questions to help narrow down their choices. :)

-The Innkeepers

Napa Old World Inn

Edited: 16 April 2011, 01:22
Napa, CA
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3. Re: Napa vs. Finger Lakes

RM-

It's easy to feel overwhelmed, w/over 400 wineries in Napa, and hundreds more in neighboring Sonoma.

We give this advice often, and it's from the heart:

Call your innkeeper/concierge where you are staying.

The reason we suggest this is b/c finding great places is a dialogue: You contact them, and tell them what you want. They, in turn, ask a number of questions (ie, kind of wine style you like, other characteristics of a winery that are important or of interest to you, etc).

It's a process-- a series of questions that can happen in a few minutes on the phone, but takes many days and several dozen posts on a thread or in an email.

A knowledgeable local innkeeper/concierge will be able to focus in on what is important for *you*, and will make some great suggestions. They'll also be happy to make reservations (if needed), and help you out w/tips and tricks on how to get around the traffic and lines at the tasting rooms.

In short, they're an awesome resource. And the service is FREE! (included in the price of your stay).

So please, don't be shy-- give your innkeepers where you are staying a call. They'll be happy to help you w/this stuff.

Oh, and don't hesitate to ask us questions-- we're here to help. But it's super hard for us to just give a few recommendations when we have so many favorite spots.

Hope that makes sense. :)

Cheers,

-The Innkeepers

Napa Old World Inn

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
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4. Re: Napa vs. Finger Lakes

There are many amazing wineries in Napa you can do it with a "hang loose stop where you want to" itinerary.

If you want to take a winery tour, be involved with a winery event (i.e. some wineries from time to time hold dinners, events, etc.), or want to do a barrel tasting tour such as at Del Dotto - you will want to make reservations in advance.

For just a day, you will have a fun day by just enjoying a day stopping where you want

(i.e.I agree with all the other comments already made before.).

have a fun day.

Napa, CA
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5. Re: Napa vs. Finger Lakes

mama

Good points from everyone. How long are you in the Napa Valley? Are you just spending one day?

For folks visiting us for the first time, we generally suggest that they take the Signature Tour at Robert Mondavi Winery and the tour at Schramsberg. Now, you may not want a tour and you may not want to spend $45 for a sparkling wine tour but they are two of our favorites.

Also, it's good to have a plan for your day. If you just stop at what's open, you will never get past Rutherford. Here's a nice map of the wineries:

napavintners.com/maps/maps_of_napa_wineries.…

Napa
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6. Re: Napa vs. Finger Lakes

Let us know what places you have in mind and we can let you know if you need an appt or not. Basically, the bigger wineries you can just go in and taste, the smaller ones usually require an appointment.

Cheers!

Napa, CA
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7. Re: Napa vs. Finger Lakes

To add to Segway's post:

There is a printed guide that we love, and use all the time (we give it to our guests, but we keep running out of them!).

This printed guide (called the Preiser Key) also has a website with many wineries listed by name, along with whether or not you need an appt. Alongside that info is the phone number for the wineries:

http://bit.ly/PreiserKeyWineryList

(but hey, let your innkeepers/concierge call them for you! ;)

Cheers,

-The Innkeepers

Napa Old World Inn

Syracuse, New York
3 posts
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8. Re: Napa vs. Finger Lakes

Hello all,

Superc: I do only have one, glorious day!

I will consider the Signature Tour at Robert Mondavi Winery and the tour at Schramsberg, but time is precious. I would def go this route if I had more time.

Segway: So far I have only made lists of places that have open tastings and was wondering if I was being too close-minded.

N.OldWld & others: Thanks for the great info and resources (and encouragement!). I especially appreciate the links to guides, maps, websites etc. I understand how hard it is to recommend specific places. I will ask my hotel folks for their two cents.

I think I will mine all of these for info, make lists, and trust to luck and serendipity to put me in the right place. Its great to hear that I can keep it loose and it will work out fine (thanks, mini). I guess I read a few too many "you better make an appointment" admonitions. I am traveling without kids for the first time in 10 years and am looking fwd to flying by the seat of my pants!

Thanks again, I can't say it enough. Its really nice of you to keep answering the same questions so patiently!!

united states
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9. Re: Napa vs. Finger Lakes

'mama,

a side note....it is not necessarily a "big deal" to get an appointment. I have read many accounts of folks who are literally at the gate or at the end of the block when calling for an appointment to visit, so they can be pretty spur of the moment. Not that this is the norm, by any means, but my point is to let you know that you don't have to tie things down too tight to include both appointment and open tasting sites into a successful visit.

Just consider this trip your "recon" for the next ( cuz you KNOW there will be one...:) ) and try to get a general feel for the area. Its too big to "do it all" in a one day trip...or a week or even a month....so keep it simple and enjoy it.

Napa, CA
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10. Re: Napa vs. Finger Lakes

footloose makes a great point/distinction: That appointments at *some* wineries can be made last minute.

This is true for many of the small places-- but the super popular spots (like Schramsberg, Del Dotto, Cakebread, etc) tend to book up WAY In advance, esp during weekends or most anytime during the busy season (harvest time).

So those who have their hearts set on going to a specific place need to find out if it's one of the super-popular spots, and if they book up way in advance.

RM, given that this is your first trip w/out kids in 10 years, we'd especially suggest that you have fun planning, but leave some time to chance. The Signature Tour at Mondavi often fills up during busy times, but they try to add on additional tours, if they have staff to host them.

Cheers,

-The Innkeepers

Napa Old World Inn