Happy to help. What are you most interested in?
A tour of a winery?
Tasting wine at a particular favorite of yours?
Spectacular scenery, gardens, or architecture?
A great restaurant you've heard about and always wanted to visit?
You tell us-- we'll give suggestions based on your priorities/preferences. :)
Napa Old World Inn
Crescent City to San Francisco is more than a six hour drive without stopping. Will you be spending any time in the redwoods or in Trinidad, Eureka, Arcata, or Ferndale? There's a lot of stuff to see up in that neck of the woods.
Also, when you say "Naoa Valley area" are you planning to detour off of US 101 and drive through the Napa Valley or are you asking about the Napa and Sonoma Wine Country in general?
Driving through the Napa Valley is certainly feasible but if all you want to do is visit a winery or two, you could much more easily do that around Geyserville or Healdsburg just off of US 101.
It would be helpful if you could give us a little more information about what you want to do.
We will be leaving from the Klamath area that morning, after seeing the redwoods the day before, and proceeding towards the Napa area before spending the night in San Francisco. I was thinking that in Geyserville we would take Hwy. 128 & 29 and head towards Napa and experience some scenery, architecture, some good food and wine tasting before heading on. Just to let you know, we are seeing Seattle to Phoenix in 2 weeks so it will be a whirlwind tour. Thanks again.
Hwy 128 from Geyserville to Calistoga is a beautiful drive, just beware of two spots where there is only one lane- you may get stuck for 15 min at each construction light. I'd suggest instead taking Mark West Springs Road - off Hwy 101 just past Windsor. It's still very scenic and will put you in Calistoga. Head down 29 - you can stop at a number of wonderful wineries. You'll go through St. Helena- which can be a bit of a traffic jam. Or - you can cut over to the Silverado Trail via Deer Park Road and avoid the towns and just enjoy the scenery.
Sure, Hwy 128 to 29 is a nice route, winding but with nice vineyard views. There's some road construction on it right now that could slow you down by as much as 30 minutes.
You'll probably only have a couple of hours in the Napa Valley. If you are interested in architecture, there's four places of significant interest between Calistoga and St. Helena:
Castello di Amorosa
There are many others but these are right on the highway as you drive South. All but Greystone are wineries and offer tastings.
I'm a little surprised though that you have two weeks for your drive and have to speed through Northern California so quickly. As I said before, there's a lot you will be missing and there are a lot of fine redwoods south of the Klamath River that you will be driving by.
You might want to post your trip itinerary on the road trips forum if you would like advice from seasoned travelers.
Based on your replies, we're with Supercilious:
Post your itinerary to the road trips forum. What you're doing is great-- but requires more than just suggestions from each area.
Getting tips on how to make this trip full of fun, without getting stuck in traffic-- is important. If you drive down from Klamath, and get to Napa around 2 or 3 pm, you'll have an hour or two to see the wineries (most close by 4:30 or 5:00).
If you then try to get to SF (around 5/6), you're going to either take 12/121 to 101S, or take 29 to Hwy 80. Either way, you get stuck in commute traffic. It may be reverse commute on 101S, but it won't be on 12/121 through the Carneros. It will be sloooooooow. And Hwy 80/the Bay Bridge will also be super slow.
So you're looking at 8+ hours of driving, any way you slice it.
We would never combine that with wine tasting. Ever. Driving fatigue and alcohol do not mix.
Sorry for being so blunt. But it needs to be said.
Napa Old World Inn
Thank you for the advice.
If you are going to focus on the Calistoga area, Chateau Montelena is a nice one to add to the others mentioned. There is also Clos Pegase in this area if you're interested in art. Have fun! :)
Is there a particular reason that you are not continuing your travel through Sonoma County but veering off to Napa instead? Not that I have anything against Napa, but the scenery and winery options in Northern Sonoma county in particular are very impressive and is sounds like it could save you some delays by going that way.
As an example, you could stop and eat at the new Francis Ford Coppola winery ( aka Rosso and Bianco) where they recently opened a new bistro style eatery that has gotten good press here and on other sites. Then instead of taking the 128, drive along Dry Creek Road and see wonderful scenery and have a plethora of great winery choices.
Or you could lunch in Healdsburg at any of several well-known places and then head down West Side Road to Forestville and get on 116 to get back to the 101. That would be a fair detour, but I don't think it would be as far as going to Napa. ( But I'm not the best with distances and time so I could be way off there.)
Either way, you would encounter some of the county's best scenery and many of its' most-visited-and-often-reviewed-here' wineries. The towns of Geyserville, Healdsburg, Farmville and Santa Rosa all have highly rated restaurants for dining, and there are quite a few wineries along these routes that now offer small-bite food pairings with their tastings and/or delis so food options are in good supply as well as lovely views of the area.
Its just a thought.!
Sterling Vineyards and Castello di Amorosa are great if you are concentrating in the Calistoga area. But are very unique experiences that you will not forget easily.