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Upcoming Trip Itinerary; Tours vs Tastings?

New York City, New...
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Upcoming Trip Itinerary; Tours vs Tastings?

Hi Everyone!

My wife and I will be making our first visit to Napa at the end of April for 4 nights at the Napa Marriott, and could not be more excited! We have both been making a list of the vineyards that we would really like to see, and as the list grows, we realize that we don't have enough time to see them all!! Just a few questions for you all. ANY help would be greatly appreciated!

1) How many tours can you comfortably do in one day? As we check out the wineries, we both are so interested in touring the different places, and would love to tour every place we visit, but just won't have time. It seems like all we can fit is one morning and one afternoon tour, but not sure if we can accommodate tastings on the same days

2) Our tentative itinerary is:

Monday - Arrive in Napa by 3pm and head to Castillo di Amorossa for their tour by 4pm.

Tuesday - Lancaster Estate Tour at 10am. Coppola Winery Tour at 1pm. We are members of Coppola and plan on spending more time here to make sure we see it all and eat at Rustic! We are staying about 1hr away at the Napa Marriott

Wednesday - Robert Sinskey Vineyard Tour at 11am. Lunch at Mustards. Inglenook tour at 3pm.

Then, we still have all day Thursday and most of the day Friday before heading to San Fran for a few days. The vineyards we are still trying to factor in are:

Joseph Phelps - Terrace Tasting by appointment only. Available 10am - 3:30pm. Not sure duration.

Palmaz - Tour and tasting by appointment only. Lasts 2 hours.

Kuleto Estate - Tour and Tasting by appointment only. 10:30am, 11:45am, 1:00pm, and 2:30pm.

Hall - St Helena drop in tasting or Hall Rutherford Tour and Tasting by appt only: 10am,1pm,3pm

Quintessa - Tour and Tasting by appt only. Between 10am - 4pm

Shafer - Tasting and Tour by appt only. Lasts 90 min. 10am or 2pm, Mon-Thursday

Does anyone have any ideas how we can add more visits on Tuesday or Wednesday, or should we just drop a few from the above list?

I apologize for all of the question!! The more I try to figure this all out, the more confused I get!!

Thank you all very much for any help!!

Visalia, CA
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1. Re: Upcoming Trip Itinerary; Tours vs Tastings?

I'm involved in ag so maybe I'm just jaded but, IMO, when you've seen one wine tour you've seen them all. The vineyards themselves are not going to be appreciably different except for maybe different trellising techniques or older vines. The wineries follow pretty much the same procedures in regards to harvest & cellering. Maybe some of them have caves instead of storage rooms. By tour 3 you'll know whether it's worth it to you to see more. Personally I'd rather hit a few more tasting rooms, sample their wines, & not be rushed.

St. Helena...
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2. Re: Upcoming Trip Itinerary; Tours vs Tastings?

Q1: About 4 wineries per day is a reasonable pace; fewer if you have to drive a long way, as you are on Tuesday going to Sonoma County

Q2: Intinerary ... some suggestions ...combine stopping at Castello di Amorosa on Tuesday as you will drive right by there on your way to Sonoma County (Lancaster & Coppola Winery). It's not worth driving from Napa to the castle and back on Monday afternoon, and then re-tracing the exact route the next morning. Choose a winery closer to Napa or visit the in-town tasting rooms in downtown Napa and around the Oxbow Public Market.

Your Thursday and Friday choices are all high end properties (be sure to check the tasting fees), start by booking Shafer and Palmaz ASAP (the most difficult to schedule), and then connect the dots to the other appointments to form an driving itinerary. Finally, don't overbook yourselves ... leave plenty of time to enjoy sight-seeing, meals and walking a couple of the towns, e.g. Yountville & St. Helena, and dropping in on a public winery spontaneously.

Plot everything out on this interactive Napa Valley winery map and be realistic about drive times:

http://napavintners.com/maps/index.asp

Note that Lancaster and Coppola are off-page (to the upper left) because they are located in a different county.

Napa, CA
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3. Re: Upcoming Trip Itinerary; Tours vs Tastings?

Yes, if you are arriving at 3pm, it's cutting it close to drive up to the castle. Maybe do Hess Collection instead. It's right up the road by the Marriott.

Some people are bored with tours (like Gdude7) but others enjoy them a lot. My feeling is if you are coming all the way to the Napa Valley from New York, I would want to see as much of the wineries you are interested in as possible. Just hanging out in the tasting room wouldn't cut it for me.

California
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4. Re: Upcoming Trip Itinerary; Tours vs Tastings?

I know I'm repeating myself, but I would skip the castle. Not a true winery experience, IMHO.

I don't see a caves tour on your list. How about replacing the castle with a visit to Schramsberg? Although I would agree it's a fairly long drive from your hotel. Something closer may suit you as well.

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5. Re: Upcoming Trip Itinerary; Tours vs Tastings?

We recently tasted at Hess and were very happy with our experience there. This would be a nice winery to fit in. :).

New York City, New...
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6. Re: Upcoming Trip Itinerary; Tours vs Tastings?

Thank you all so much for the great information. I love that interactive Napa map!

I looked everything over and think that I will have a more even mix of tastings and tours, rather than a tour heavy itinerary. I also doubt that I will make it to Castillo, and instead spend more time at some of the other wineries. I changed up a few things and so far have the following:

Tuesday: Lancaster Estate and Coppola.

Wednesday: Shafer Tasting, Robert Sinskey Tasting, Hall tasting, and any other tastings that may catch our eye!

Friday: Palmaz Tour

As for Thursday, I was planning on doing a Quintessa tour, then Joseph Phelps tasting, and ending at Inglenook, but am not sure if I should definitely do Quintessa. I would really like to visit an exclusive vineyard and taste something special that I would not necessarily have the easiest time finding in NY. I've heard that Quintessa is exactly that: exclusive, delicious wine, and a great experience, but I have also heard that it is not worth the money. I am not opposed to splurging on this trip at all, but I also don't want to spend a lot on a tasting that could be better spent elsewhere.

I know this is a hard question for you all to answer for me, but is there somewhere else that I haven't mentioned, that is a "must-see" in your opinion, that may be a better substitute for Quintessa?

Thank you all again for all of your help! I really appreciate it!

St. Helena...
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7. Re: Upcoming Trip Itinerary; Tours vs Tastings?

Some ideas for swapping out Quintessa: Jarvis, Von Strasser, Jericho Canyon, David Arthur, Fantesca, Rudd, O'Shaughnessy, Young Inglewood, Sodaro, White Rock .... gosh, so many to choose from! I could go on and on ...

Los Angeles, Ca
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8. Re: Upcoming Trip Itinerary; Tours vs Tastings?

The Hall Rutherford tour is worth the time. Their wines are highly rated and tasting room at Rutherford is spectacularly beautiful. The tour takes you through the caves. Aubert just had their Pinot Noir awarded 94 points. I also really enjoyed their Chardonnay.You need to be on their mailing list in order to book a tasting. This was very worthwhile as we met the winemaker and we very much enjoyed our tasting. Many wineries wave the tasting fee if you purchase wine. You only need 1 to 2 tours and most the rest should be tastings. I would also recommend about 4 tastings a day if you are hearty and you need a driver unless you don't swallow. We just returned from one of many trips and the roads are monitored by the police carefully. Have a leisurely lunch.

Paraduxx/Duckhorn is a winery you might consider.

Most tours are redundant.

New York City, New...
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9. Re: Upcoming Trip Itinerary; Tours vs Tastings?

Thanks again for the recommendations!

NancilnNapa - I very much appreciate your list. I really wish that I booked more than 4 nights in Napa so I could see more and taste more!

traveledfar - Hall is the one place that I have been going back and forth about tour vs tasting. I think that I am going to have to do a tour while I'm there! Just a few questions about your experience. How many wines were available for tasting at Hall Rutherford? Also, is the tasting fee waived if I were to purchase a bottle after the tour?

Thanks again for the help!

Houston
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10. Re: Upcoming Trip Itinerary; Tours vs Tastings?

I was going to chime in and say that tours are often a seen one, seen 'em all thing, except when it comes to Kuleto and Hall Rutherford. (and possibly others, but those two I have actually been to)

Yes, you get the information on how they make their wine (which can be repetitive), but with Kuleto you get that incredible drive TO the winery and the amazing views while walking on the tour. Our personal palates weren't wowed by the wines, but the whole experience was worth it. Hall Rutherford was an excellent experience - the art, the views, the wine, the spectacular tasting room in the caves - fabulous. I think that we were served 5 wines, and then we were encouraged to revisit anything. I don't recall if they waived a fee for purchase, but we joined the club, so it was waived because of that. I'm fairly certain that several of the wines were only poured there and not at the St. Helena location. Reservations definitely required. The new tasting room in St. Helena does not, I don't believe.