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Narrowed down some wineries for first visit to Napa Valley

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Indianapolis
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Narrowed down some wineries for first visit to Napa Valley

OK, so I have been reading posts here and on other websites and I have come up with this list of possible wineries to visit on our first trip to Napa Valley the first weekend of May. My wife and I prefer whites(Chard, Pinot Grigio, Gewurztraminer, some Reislings), but are wanting to taste some good reds, too. Any comments, priorities, additions/deletions to our list are appreciated! We are staying at the Arbor Guest House in Napa.

Stony Hill (already have 9am appointment scheduled - great reviews of their whites)

Sterling (for tram ride and views mostly)

Chateau Montelena

Frank Family

Rutherford Hill

Frog's Leap

Grgich Hills Estate(looking at their progressive tasting)

Cakebread

Also, if you do a full 9am(first winery)-5pm, how many wineries can you comfortably visit in a day? (maybe 1 tour, the rest tastings and walking around)

Napa, CA
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1. Re: Narrowed down some wineries for first visit to Napa Valley

No bubbly?

Newberg, Oregon
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2. Re: Narrowed down some wineries for first visit to Napa Valley

The first four on your list are great choices -- especially Stony Hill. Their chardonnays are absolutely amazing. Hopefully you'll have a chance to taste something with a bit of age. They really don't show their stuff until they get close to 10 years old. I'm still drinking some from the late 1980's and early '90s.

We usually taste at 4 wineries a day, sometimes more, depending on whether I want to focus on a single varietal. Most Napa wineries -- cab specialist Silver Oak one of few exceptions -- produce several varietals so you can sample a wide range during a day.

San Francisco
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3. Re: Narrowed down some wineries for first visit to Napa Valley

Your list looks pretty good and the locations are close which will help keep you on schedule.

You should check with Cakebread as you will definitely need an appt on the weekend and I thought you had to take the tour which means you can't just walk in and taste.

I love the Grigch Hills wines, but found the tasting to be lacking. The wines were just too young that they opened. Also, you should again check that you don't have to do the tour. The last time we went you had to take the tour and then taste. It's not bad but added time.

Sterling is a unique setting. It does take a bit of time if you don't go first thing in the morning so plan at least 90 minutes because of the time for the tram and potential crowd if it's the weekend and not right at 10 a.m.

Rutherford Hill....eh...ok. If you like the wines go but if you are just going to try there are better places/experiences.

Frank Family is a great tasting and winery.

If you start at 9 and either eat lunch on the road or stop to picnic (check to see which wineries allow picnic because not all do and it can fill up) you can probably do 5 comfortably. We've done 9 in one day (which included picnic at one of the wineries) and were just puddles by the end of the day. Not that it's a bad thing but if your tasting and not spitting (come one who the heck wants to spit?!) then you'll be well on your way after 5 wineries. If you are doing more than say 3 wineries get a car or driver.

A really pretty winery (but mostly reds) is Cade on Howell Mtn. Views are fantastic and wines are good and as an added bonus it's not on the tourist maps.

Indianapolis
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4. Re: Narrowed down some wineries for first visit to Napa Valley

What about Sequoia Grove and Elizabeth Spencer?

St. Helena...
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5. Re: Narrowed down some wineries for first visit to Napa Valley

Before we answer about those specifically, what does your itinerary look like now?

Indianapolis
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6. Re: Narrowed down some wineries for first visit to Napa Valley

No specific itinerary just yet. Looking to visit as many wineries as possible(hopefully at least 6) and the ones I have listed are currently the ones I am considering. The only thing locked in now is Stony Hill at 9am to start the day.

Edited: 19 April 2013, 21:38
St. Helena...
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7. Re: Narrowed down some wineries for first visit to Napa Valley

hi jschall - may I suggest that you'll have a far more enjoyable day if you stick to 4-5 wineries? Stony Hill is a great start to the day and the early appointment gets you up ahead of the 'bow-wave' of weekend traffic northbound on Hwy 29. After Stony Hill, head over to Sterling - you should still be early enough to avoid the big lines at the tram station. Then, head to Frank family and have a picnic lunch* on the grounds there ... you need to eat and re-hydrate mid-day.

By early afternoon, start heading south on Silverado Trail all the way to Rutherford Xroad and stop at Frogs Leap. From there, make a free choice from among your final 3 - Eliz Spencer, Sequoia Grove (both walk in tasting) and Cakebread (appt only). It it were me, I'd want to avoid setting an appt at the end of the tasting day, you don't want to feel rushed or stressed out about getting to Cakebread on time.

On your way back to Arbor House, take some time to explore the town of Yountville, park and walk around the tiny main street area and let the day take you where it will. If you really MUST hit a 6th winery, there are several tasting rooms there that are open later than the wineries.

Plot your route out on this winery map and post again if you have further questions:

napavintners.com/maps/maps_of_napa_wineries.…

Good luck and have a great time!

* allow time to pick up a picnic lunch at any of these places on the way to Stony Hill ... Genova Deli, Whole Foods, Vallergas Market in Napa; Ranch Market or NapaStyle in Yountville; Oakville Grocery in Oakville; La Luna Market in Rutherford; or Dean & DeLuca in St. Helena. Check operating hours, not sure they are all open early on the weekend.

Granite Bay, CA
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8. Re: Narrowed down some wineries for first visit to Napa Valley

I agree with the others 4 - 5 is really about all you can do. Part of the fun (in my opinion) is in the social aspect. Chatting with the pourers and fellow tasters.

Grgich uses to be one of my faves. The last time we were up we went in. Had to do a tour, which was interesting as the history of the winemaker is amazing. Wine, not so much. We talked our way into some estate tastes but I was really disappointed.

Cakebread will be packed on a weekend. Nearby is Sawyer and you'll have an easier time there.

Frank Family and Frogs Leap are perfect choices. Deer park rd is stunning.

Newberg, Oregon
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9. Re: Narrowed down some wineries for first visit to Napa Valley

Oakville Grocery and Dean & DeLuca offer anything and everything you might desire for a yummy picnic.

And Elizabeth Spencer is definitely worth a sport on your tasting itinerary. We love their wines and they pour just about everything in their portfolio. The Howell Mountain cabernet ($75-plus) is especially good and worth the money to put it in your cellar.

Indianapolis
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10. Re: Narrowed down some wineries for first visit to Napa Valley

Thanks to all for the recommendations! We are going to plan for 6 wineries and adjust the day if needed. It's nice that we can start the day bright an early (9am) at Stony Hill and possibly finish at Elizabeth Spencer which is open until 6pm. That allows for a full day. We will not rush ourselves, but try to stay on plan , if possible. Here is what we will be looking at:

Stony Hill – St. Helena - (9am appointment) - 9-10am

Sterling – Calistoga - 10:15-11:30

Frank Family – Calistoga - 11:45-12:45pm

Gott’s Roadside – St. Helena - Lunch – 1:00-2:00pm

Frog’s Leap – Rutherford - 2:15-3:15pm

Sequoia Grove – Rutherford 3:30-4:30pm

Elizabeth Spencer – Rutherford 4:45-5:45pm

I know it's a packed itinerary , but we only have 1 full day in Napa, so I want to make the most of it! Thanks again to everyone for the posts!!