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Boutique wineries that do NOT require appt. for tasting?

Pittsburgh, PA, USA
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Boutique wineries that do NOT require appt. for tasting?

Hi everyone,

I've done a great deal of searching these forums to find what I'm looking for. My wife and I will be in Napa Valley Feb. 15-16, and we are interested in visiting as many small, boutique, low production wineries as possible - we just like that setting better.

I've been able to find many of them, however, they all require an appointment or reservation. We'd prefer to just have a few picked out and play it by ear, going from place to place at our leisure, without worrying about making an appointment time.

So, the question is, are there any small, boutique, low-production wineries in Napa Valley with an open tasting room with no appointments necessary for tasting? Any help here would be great appreciated? Thanks for your help!

Fremont, California
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1. Re: Boutique wineries that do NOT require appt. for tasting?

First off February 15 will be "traffic" bound in Napa Valley given Valentine's week-end. We found it amazingly slow last year when we went. Also, Napa Valley is known for medium to larger scale wineries - and that is what you are finding when doing your research. Directly north of Napa Valley is Alexander valley. (i.e. drive north of Calistoga). In Alexander Valley there are many small boutique wineries where you will not need reservations. Its a short drive through some beautiful countryside and take you out of the traffic snarl on February 15. (Note: Its also a 3 day week-end - Presidents Day - so even locals tend to stay through the 3 days...i.e. locals meaning those who drive up from San Francisco/San Jose to spend the week-end there.).

Here is a link to Alexander Valley wineries:

http://alexandervalley.org/

Its not to say that Napa does not have its fair share of smaller wineries - here are 4 I like:

Prager (its for port - but delightful - but also will put you into the traffic)

http://www.pragerport.com/

Frog's Leap

http://www.frogsleap.com/flash/intro.html

Dutch Henry

http://www.dutchhenry.com/

Frank Family

http://www.frankfamilyvineyards.com/

and several others.....

Its key to realize that in Sonoma Valley, there are literally hudreds of wineries that are small, boutqiue, low production wineries - Sonoma Valley is less than an hour drive from Napa - and so you might want to consider exploring that area on Sunday (avoid some of the peak traffic) and on Monday explore the smaller wineries in Napa.

I certainly hope however you do stop and enjoy some of the larger wineries in Napa. For example, Robert Sinksy winery has a great vibe about it and nice food tasting that goes with the wine.

http://www.robertsinskey.com/

If you want to have a more personalized tasting also - do consider making a couple of appointments. Perhaps just group them for a morning or afternoon while in the area. I personally love to visit Napa and go to several wineries but try to do one tour. The tastings there are fabulous. Schramsberg has a great tour, for example, followed by a small table tasting for about 12 - 15 people. Informative, fun, and awesome experience. Hess Winery has a wonderful art collection and awesome wineries in a beautiful tasting room.

Let us know more about what types of wines or wineries that led you select Napa Valley for your visit - that is one way to help us in giving you some that will really make your trip delightful. In the interim, realize there are hundreds and hundreds of wineries in this area...

napavintners.com/wineries/all_wineries.asp

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2. Re: Boutique wineries that do NOT require appt. for tasting?

I would not miss Freemark Abbey in St. Helena. You do not need an appointment to taste here. Check their website for hours and info on their wines. Have fun! :)

Pittsburgh, PA, USA
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3. Re: Boutique wineries that do NOT require appt. for tasting?

Thanks much for your reply! Some great info there. Actually, we'll be doing Napa on Feb. 16th (the Tuesday), so are hoping to avoid the crowds. We're doing Alexander and Dry Creek Valley on Mon., Feb. 15th for that reason as well (and plan to hit the smaller boutiques there then).

To your other point, my favorite winery in Napa is Chappellet, which is I suppose my major draw to the area. I like them because I can get their wines out where I live, and they are typically excellent and affordable (by Napa standards). I have an appointment set up there, for that very reason, but for the rest of the day was hoping to not be bound by appointment times and visit wineries that have excellent wine at reasonable prices. The wow factor is probably the least important, with the wine quality/price ratio probably being the most important, followed by setting and environment.

Anyways, if there are any other suggestions specific to Napa, I'd truly appreciate them. Of course, some recommendations in Sonoma based on the above would be welcome as well.

Thanks again!

Fremont, California
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4. Re: Boutique wineries that do NOT require appt. for tasting?

Your additional info. sounds great. A couple of others to think of going to is Pine Ridge (close to Sinksy)

www.pineridgewinery.com/index.cfm…

St. Clement

http://www.stclement.com/stclement/index.jsp

This has an awesome hillside setting - great views of the valley - and is one of the most popular boutique wineries in Napa Valley. (note: we've gone and there is usually still room to taste even on week-ends - but great wine.)

Chateau Montelena

I am mixed if I would call ilt a boutique winery - its one of the oldest wineries and was a key winery in putting Napa Valley on the world wide wine map. The tasting rooms have a boutique feel (note: Their wines are expensive). We loved their tour here - and they were generous with their $100 a bottle wine pours if you took the the tour - or at least the day we went they were generous).

http://www.montelena.com/

Here is a web site with other recommend boutique wineries....in case you have not seen it.

winecountrygetaways.com/napa_details2.html

Glad you are going mid-week. We went last valentine day and we were so late for a tour we had booked! Luckily the folks at Schramsberg were so understandable and wonderful, they gave us "late folks" a private tour after the tasting. Just want to be sure you were aware of that - as we visit often but were amazed about the traffic. If you run into problems with the traffic and are stuck in Napa Valley, Hess Winery is off the main drag in the hills. They were really nice last year on valentine's day - gave out roses! Sweet!

Not sure if they are doing that this year - but one of our favorite wineries.

http://www.hesscollection.com/

Portland, Oregon
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5. Re: Boutique wineries that do NOT require appt. for tasting?

Having heard good things about it, my wife and I stopped in at Goosecross Cellars when we were in Napa Valley last September. We'd tasted several wines before the pourer/server asked us to sign a sheet to show that we'd been there. When I asked why, he replied that it had to do with the number of licenses that could be granted to wineries wanting to offer tasting without appointment/reservation. They're somehow limited. Which meant that, legally, Goosecross could not advertise as being open to tasting without an appointment. But, we didn't have one, and I didn't have the impression that others in the tasting room did either. The pourer/server said that many other wineries in the valley are in the same boat. So, I'm not sure, but suspect that if you show up without an appointment/reservation at a winery that has people in the tasting room, you probably won't be turned away.

Napa
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6. Re: Boutique wineries that do NOT require appt. for tasting?

Yes, there are many small, boutique, low production wineries in NV where you don't need an appt. Going to Chappellet, even if you went on a weekend day -you will NOT be stuck in traffic. The area that gets "traffic bound" is St. Helena on Hwy 29. It's as bad as Hwy 12 bewteen Sonoma and Glen Ellen, or 101 between Petaluma and Santa Rosa. So no fear, you'll be fine.

A boutique winery that does not need an appointment that is just up the road (128) from Chappellet is Nichelini. This is one of the oldest wineries in Napa. It is the longest continuously run winery in Napa Valley! It even produced during Prohibition. If the weather is nice enough, they have a bocce quart. It's definitely someplace you can bring a picnic lunch. They are known for the SB and Zin.

Also on 128 that needs no appointment is Elizabeth Spencer. Go back on 128 towards 29- it's on the left before you hit the intersection. From there, turn right on 29 and go to Alpha Omega winery - another boutique winery where no appt. is needed. ALL of these wineries are less then 10,000 cases per year.

Have fun!

Egg Harbor Twp, NJ
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7. Re: Boutique wineries that do NOT require appt. for tasting?

You'll love Chappellet. Fantastic wines and absolutely gorgeous. I would also highly recommend Goosecross, Honig, Robert Biale, and Jessup. Jessup doesn't require appts. Even though the others do, just call them on your way, and or just walk in. Another one right across the street from Jessup is Girard.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA
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8. Re: Boutique wineries that do NOT require appt. for tasting?

Hi all;

Big thanks again for all the advice! It really helped make our trip fantastic. I'll be posting a trip report soon. Thanks again!

Napa
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9. Re: Boutique wineries that do NOT require appt. for tasting?

we look forward to seeing your report! Thanks ")

10. Re: Boutique wineries that do NOT require appt. for tasting?

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