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First Napa trip

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Denver, Colorado
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First Napa trip

I have read many great posts on this forum, as well as Yelp. I feel like I have some good ideas, but need some expert advice.

My husband and I are coming to Napa for the first time in August. We are leaving San Francisco on Tuesday morning 8/26, and flying out on Friday afternoon 8/29. We are staying at the Andaz Hyatt. I have heard mixed reviews about the hotel, but we got an excellent rate so I'm sure it will be fine.

We definitely want to start with the tour at Mondavi at 10am on Tuesday. And from there, we are all over the place... a few wineries that I have limited it down to and potential days

Tuesday-

Mondavi

Silver Oak

Frogs Leap

Dinner- Celadon

Wednesday-

Scramsberg tour

Arroyo

Frank Family

Failla

Dinner- Hog Island (we LOVE oysters)

Thursday-

Pride

Cakebread

Caymus??

Dinner- ?

Another option would be to go with Platypus tours on Thursday, as I have read excellent reviews. We plan on driving, but obviously being safe (splitting tastings, etc).

Is this a good selection of wineries? Are we missing any "musts"? Thoughts on taking a tour to break up the trip? Any other dinner places that we are missing (preferably in Napa, but we will take a cab for great food)?

Any feedback is appreciated.

Napa, CA
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1. Re: First Napa trip

You have chosen some excellent wineries and it's a great idea to start your days with tours. The three you have selected - Mondavi, Schramsberg, and Pride - are among the best and all quite different.

For day 3, you could spend all day on Spring Mountain if you bring a picnic with you. There's many fine wineries up there, all of them quite unique. Or, you could even drop down into the Sonoma Valley after Pride and visit wineries in Kenwood and have lunch there while ending your day visiting the plaza in Sonoma. After two days in the Napa Valley, you might want a change.

The Andaz is fine. Not sure about the mixed reviews. It's #2 on Tripadvisor and AAA gave it 4 diamonds.

For restaurants, there's no need to worry about them 5 months out. There are 5 or 6 new restaurants slated to open in the next few months. So, wait and see. There may be a new star rising by August. And, how do you know what type of cuisine you are going to want this far out?

Whether you go with Platypus is a choice you will have to make. Visiting wineries with others, many of whom are for the tastings and not the education, is not for everyone although Platypus gets high marks for fun tours.

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2. Re: First Napa trip

Celadon is an excellent choice for dinner in Napa! :)

New Orleans
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3. Re: First Napa trip

We'll also be making our first trip to the region in late August, so I'll be very interested in this thread.

4. Re: First Napa trip

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Newport Beach...
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5. Re: First Napa trip

I'd suggest Bottega for dinner on Thursday - so good! Redd Wood is also good for a more relaxed, casual dining experience. If you don't mind driving a little bit, you really can't go wrong with anywhere in Yountville.

If you want to stick closer to the hotel, check out Oenotri - it's right across the street.

Lexington, Kentucky
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6. Re: First Napa trip

As others suggest, you have picked out some great wineries to visit. I especially love Pride at the top of Spring Mountain and they have a couple beautiful areas for picnics. You can pick up lunch at the Oakville Grocery for your picnic needs. In terms of restaurants, I really love Bottega (ask for the patio) and Redd Wood in Yountville. Cook in downtow St Helena is really special and a terrific little hole-in-the-wall joint. It is an experience you shouldn't miss; great food at very reasonable prices and an attentive wait staff. I also enjoy dining on the back patio at Brix. Breakfast on the patio at Pacific Blues in Yountville is another wonderful idea.

In terms of other wineries to consider, I would add Duckhorn, Nickle & Nickle, Paraduxx, Cliff Lede, Robert Sinskey (book the cave tour), and Round Pond. Stop in and look at the architecture of Darioush even if you don't taste his wines. It is spectacular and well worth a five minute drive thru just off the Silverado Trail. I have always enjoyed doing Silver Oak in Oakville, even though it is highly commercialized with lots of visitors. Their wines are good, the pours generous, and the place is really beautiful. If you are going there, call up Groth, which is right across the street. Their Cabs are very good.

Napa is a spectacular place. I am sure you will enjoy the trip.

Key West, Florida
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7. Re: First Napa trip

Dh and I are also fans of Celadon, as well as Zuzu if you like good sangria and tapas style dining. In Yountville, I second Brix (the Sunday brunch is amazing!!) and also enjoyed Hurley's. If you can spend the time, the food & wine pairing at Cakebread is worth the money. As is a semi-private tasting at Caymus. On our last trip in November, we did the semi-private tour & tasting at Duckhorn. Lunch at CIA at Greystone: Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena is also a treat....esp if you sit at the bar and watch the students work the open-air kitchen. Both the food and service were amazing--a wonderful experience.

Enjoy!!!

Edited: 30 March 2014, 19:43
Denver, Colorado
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8. Re: First Napa trip

Thanks for all of the great suggestions- much appreciated!

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9. Re: First Napa trip

In Yountville, we also really enjoy Bottega. Our most recent meal a few weeks ago was at Redd Wood. We enjoyed lunch outside there. Across the street is Jessup Cellars where I highly suggest you wine taste. :)

Raleigh, NC
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10. Re: First Napa trip

Sounds like you are planning a great trip. Here are a couple of thoughts.

On our first trip to Napa (like you) we packed in ~4 wineries per day plus lunch and dinner and we were literally exhausted running around from place to place. We were clock watching while we were at one place to make sure we had time to make it to the next place. Our thought was that we wanted to pack as much in as we could because we didn't know when (or if) we would make it back to Napa. After our first trip, we fell in love with Napa and have been 2+ times per year for the past 15 years. :-)

I would consider 2-3 wineries per day - especially if you are eating lunch (which can take some time) - and then adding on if you have time.

As for suggestions, I agree with Bottega. It is awesome service and food. If you go, PM me and I will send you thoughts on some of the best dishes that they are known for. Also consider Press in St. Helena - awesome steakhouse (but pricey) and more importantly the best oysters I have EVER had.

On your winery choices, they all seem good but I find Silver Oak to be a little over the top and the wine not as good as it once was. (it has been sold ~5- years ago and I think they are living off the name a little bit) As someone mentioned you could spend all day on Spring Mtn. (be careful on the drive up as it is steep and windy) With Pride if your budget allows for the Summit Experience it is great and I highly recommend it.

As for a different winery, I would suggest taking a cave tour at Del Dotto in St Helena. (ask for Tim) The tour is a little pricey ($75 pp) but is one of the most unique barrel tasting cave tours in Napa. That said, the wine is very expensive - most well over $100 - but the tour is still educational even if you don't buy wine. Finally if you do go there be aware that they pour a lot of wine on this tour and it is easy to overdue it, so be careful.

Have fun!