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Need input on wineries to visit

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Los Angeles...
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Need input on wineries to visit

My husband and I will be visiting Sonoma & Napa for our first anniversary. We are early 30's, no kids, lived in SoCal for 10 years and been to SF/Big Sur several times, but this is our first trip to Napa. We enjoy amazing views, architecture, modern & pop art, learning new things and of course, wine. We'd like this trip to be relaxing with lots of photo ops.

We will check into The Sonoma Hotel around 3pm (driving up from LA) on 6/13 and check out after 3 nights on 6/16. So far the only other thing I have reserved is the Mondavi tasting at 4pm 6/15.

We will have basically 4 blocks of time to visit wineries for tours and tastings so I'd appreciate suggestions for our best choice.

1. 1-2 hrs late Saturday (after hotel check-in)

2. 2-3 hrs early Sunday (want to spend mid-day Sunday in Sonoma for Lunch and the Bear Flag Festival).

3. 1-2 hrs late Sunday (do wineries close early on Sunday?)

4. All day Monday we planned to drive from Calistoga (we want to see the Pioneer Cemetery) to Napa. Thought it would be better to end the day in Napa for dinner, to be closer to the hotel, but let me know if we should change reservations and start at Mondavi and go the other way.

Since we'll be based out of Sonoma it seems like we should stay on highway 12 for the first couple days. What are the best options for our 3 slots of time out of Ravenswood, Buena Vista, Bart Park, Kunde, Imagery & Bezinger? I was considering going to Gloria Ferrer & Viansa on Sunday morning (sounds like the right time for Champagne, right? ;)) but would one of the others be better?

On Monday we considered starting at Chateau Montelena at 10am then seeing the cemetery and doing the Sterling tram ride. Then I figure we'll eat our picnic lunch somewhere (?) and then have another couple hours to kill before our Mondavi tour. There are so many amazing sounding places I'm stumped. Places on our short list are Castello Ambrosio, Schramsberg, Frog's Leap, Peju and Del Dotto, though I can't figure out how to work that one into our itinerary. We also love olive oil, more so after our recent trip to Italy.

Thanks for your help and sorry for cross posting. I'm still trying to figure out how the different forums work.

San Francisco
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1. Re: Need input on wineries to visit

Before going I often print FREE tasting or 2 for 1 tasting passes from a site called www.econcierges.com you can also print discounts on spas, hotels and restaurants. In this economy any deal helps.

Ps. Kunde and Benziger have the best tours.

Bend, Oregon
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2. Re: Need input on wineries to visit

What do you like about Kunde and Benziger? Just curious what makes them the "best"? I'll be in Sonoma later this week and can't wait to check out some of the wineries.

San Francisco
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3. Re: Need input on wineries to visit

I like Kunde because they have one of the largest cave systems for a winery. It is quite an experience to be able to take their scheduled cave tours.

As for Benziger, they have a tour unlike anyone else. It is a tractor pulled tour which takes you up and down vineyards stopping along they way to explain about different soils and growing patterns etc. Also they have couple gorgeous gorgeous peacocks you can see.

I think they have a discount offer for Kunde on www.econcierges.com but I am not sure if there is anything for Benziger. Do book ahead for tours for both of these wineries because they sell out far in advance.

Los Angeles...
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4. Re: Need input on wineries to visit

Our trip plans have changed slightly and we're now leaving LA on Friday night so we can be in the area all day Saturday instead of just the afternoon.

We will spend 10am-1pm or so on Saturday morning along Arnold Road, south of Sonoma City. We probably only have time to do a tour at one winery and a couple tastings. We'd like to checkout Cornerstone Gardens, but aside from that how should we divide our time between Viansa, Gloria Ferrer, Jacuzzi & Cline?

That afternoon we're going to do the Benziger tour and at least see the galleries at Imagery and probably split a tasting.

Sunday morning we'll do the tour at Gundlach Bundschu, hang out in the square for the festival for a few hours around lunch and then go check out Ravenswood and Buena Vista if there's time.

Monday we'll be in Napa so I'll post that in the other forum.

I would love input on those wineries on Arnold Dr before we head out.

Thank you!!

Santa Cruz...
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5. Re: Need input on wineries to visit

The caves at Kunde were built using the same tehnology that was used to dig the Chunnel between Great Britain and France. There is a long main tunnel with smaller ones coming diagonally off it where wine is being aged in barrels. At the end is a room with a trestle table and a lighted stained glass "window" where they evidently hold VIP dinners. The winery is on a hill and there is a nice view of the valley from there. I believe that you have to sign up for the tours, I don't remember, but I believe they are only given on weekends.

oregon
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6. Re: Need input on wineries to visit

It may help you to know that Viansa, Cline and Jacuzzi are close together- Cline and Jacuzzi are literally across the street from one another and Vianasa is the next place down. The Cline complex is large with lots of outdoor seating, more of a casual/country-style appeal; Jacuzzi is more elegant in nature and is supposed to have an excellent variety of olive oils to taste as well as their wines.The facility is reported to be a replica of a family estate in Europe. Both places are owned by the same family.

You could easily visit these 3 for tastings on your way in to your hotel and thus free some time.

If you haven't already checked this out, try looking at www.winecountrygetaways.com . This site has suggestions for a variety of "loop tours" in both Napa and Sonoma that might help you in your planning.

We have found it quite helpful.

Enjoy your trip!!

Los Angeles...
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7. Re: Need input on wineries to visit

Thank you so much, footloose, for that website! Very helpful.

oregon
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8. Re: Need input on wineries to visit

Glad it can be of help to you.

Sebastopol...
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9. Re: Need input on wineries to visit

BR Cohn is great for wines as well as olive oils & vinegar and they will also let you have a nice picnic on their grounds. It is on HWY 12 in Glen Ellen. You have so much great information here, there are many choices out there.

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10. Re: Need input on wineries to visit

You may want to add Clos Pegase to your winery list in the Calistoga area, there is some nice art work here, also. :)