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Wine & Travel

Snooth User: tabednar

Alexander & Russian River Valley

Posted by tabednar, Mar 7, 2011.

Hello fellow "snoothers",

My fiancee and I are getting married this May and we are looking to plan a small honeymoon like trip after the wedding to the Alexander/ Russian River Valley area and do some wine tastings. We are both graduating medical school and have tons of loans and no money. We are looking to have a good experience but try to stay on the more frugal side.

Anyone have any advice for us? Nice, relatively inexpensive places to stay, where to stay, wineries to go to? Anything would help. I could think of a better place to ask...

Either way I hope we can pull this off and I will subsequently try to post come pictures. Thanks in advance for any help!

Cheers,
Tim Bednar

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Replies

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 8, 2011.

How long are you looking to spend there, and are you wishing to focus more on RRV, or Alexander?

Lots of romantic, fairly economical stay options in the RRV.

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Reply by outthere, Mar 8, 2011.

Seeing that room rates around here can range from $200-$700/nite economical is all relative. While I'm sure you would rather not stay at Motel 6 it would be good to know your comfort level.

As for wineries to visit it depends on your tastes but a few come to mind that are just a pleasure to visit because of their setting and views.

There are lots of places to stop along Westside Rd between Healdsburg and Forestville. Armida has a great view from their tasting deck of the RRV. Arista uses the local landscape to their advantage and then offer some great Pinots. Gary Farrell offers some stunning views of the River area as well as some nice wines to taste. Ferrari Carano in Dry Creek Valley has one of the most beautiful botanical gardens around. Stryker Sonoma has an awesome view of the Geyserville area from their vanatge point in the NE hills of the Alexander Valley. In the town of Healdsburg proper you should make a point of visiting the tasting room for Holdredge Wines on a weekend day and hope the John is on had. Great guy who makes great wine. A must stop IMHO if you want a look into what a small production hand crafted winery is all about.

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Reply by tabednar, Mar 8, 2011.

We are definitely looking more into the Alexander Valley. Has anyone mde this trip and could recomend a good place to stay that is somewhat central to the vinyards. I really like the vineyards suggested. We would also like to visit Silver Oak, Simi, and St. Francis. We are going to be there only for 3-4 days so we want to make the most of it. We also are flying in and won't have a car. We considered doing a bike tour. Anyone have any info on this?


Any help is much appreciated. I am going to look into these vineyards you suggested outthere. Thanks!

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Reply by outthere, Mar 8, 2011.

St Francis is in the Sonoma Valley not Alexander so you're kinda out of luck there. Simi is in Headlsburg proper. Silver Oak is just a few miles out of town.  Lodging central to your stops  with no car is going to be tough. I'll think on that one and re-post when I have more time.

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 8, 2011.

Cycling is certainly an option but we're talking some fair distances here. If you only have, say, three full days, I'd focus on either Alexander or RRV, and not try to do both. And if you're staying up in Healdsberg, the RRV will definitely be a lot of pedaling away. Assuming since this is a honeymoon you don't want to spend all your time on the road, worrying about how tipsy you might be in some amount of traffic... ;-)

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Reply by tabednar, Mar 8, 2011.

Yeah I think we will probably focus on Alexander Valley and the vineyards near wherever we get a place to stay. We were think about biking medium distances to vineyards if able too, otherwise take a cab. Anyone know of any bed and breakfasts they have stayed at or they could recommend or hotels for that matter? I appreciate all this help immensely!

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Reply by outthere, Mar 8, 2011.

I have to disagree Dmcker on sticking with one place. To be honest with you I couldn't spend more than a full day in Alexander Valley. There just aren't enough places to hit. I surely can't see spending 3 days there. A day in Alexander, Dry Creek and RRV's would be best (if you had a car).

Healdsburg is the confluence of all 3 valleys. RRV runs along Westside and Eastside Rd's right out of the center of town, Dry Creek runs west off the north end of town and Alexander runs east off the far north end of town. The real scenic beauty of the area lives in Dry Creek and RR Valleys, IMHO. Not to be missed if possible.

Reasonably priced nice accommodations really don't exist around here. Need to suck it up on a room or rent a car and drive from Santa Rosa or Windsor. Just sayin.

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Reply by Vine Master Fanucchi, Mar 8, 2011.

...On the other hand in the northern part of Santa Rosa you are in the middle of Russian River Valley. On Cleveland Avenue you can find a few low budget hotels & spring for a low budget car across the Freeway (101) from there are upscale hotels in the Fountain Grove area with varying rates (up to very upscale) and you have about a 15 RRV wineries within 2 to 7 pretty flat miles. Alexander Valley is just a few miles up 101 & you are in the Heart of Healdsburg which has a gtrat town square which has a bunch of Tasting rooms in and around the Square.  You could either rent a car for one day or ride a bicycle up Old Redwood Highway. I live in this exact area & I used to ride much further but I wasn't wine tasting at the time.  If you want to stretch your budget & see more I'd recommend Santa Rosa. It's the Biggest "City" in the area so it has the widest range of pricing  while the lodging in Healdsburg is more likely to be priced for the upscale wine tourists.

(I am a wine grower in that a fore mentioned 7 mile radius but I have no visitor center.)

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Reply by Vine Master Fanucchi, Mar 8, 2011.

P.S. While Farrai Caranno is beautiful it is all the way to the other end of Dry Creek which would be thought to fit in a tour of RRV & AV but within that 7 miles I spoke of is the Kendall Jackson Wine Center which has an extensive Organic editable garden.

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Reply by napagirl68, Mar 8, 2011.

I agree 100% with Outthere.. I couldn't spend more than a day in AV either!  A few good wineries, and big on zin.  I am not a huge zin person.  I did like Stryker, and my friend likes Trentadue.

I far prefer dry creek, sonoma and RRV myself.  I recommend in, mainly the dry creek area, Mauritson Family Vineyards http://www.mauritsonwines.com/  Bella vineyards www.bellawinery.com  Frick winery  www.frickwinery.com   Quivira Vineyards, www.quivirawine.com   Unti Vineyards www.untivineyards.com

 

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 9, 2011.

Outthere (and NG), I totally agree with you. I would spend my 3 days in the RRV. Alexander is a distant 3rd for me, and I wasn't pitching that one. Was just thinking about how much time actually at wineries, how much on the road, how much back at the accommodations or restaurants or... If for some reason they want to do AV, that's their decision, but trying to bike all the rest seemed like a royal pain in the rear, and I'm not talking just about saddle soreness.

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Reply by napagirl68, Mar 9, 2011.

Hey Tabednar,

Dmcker is correct about the biking thing in an earlier post.  Fun to do as an outing, but not necessarily for transportation in that area.  It is so spread out, and there are lots of "tasters" on the road....   Not being paranoid, just saying...   I have seen  a few "victims" along hwy 29 in Napa valley.. not pretty.

I understand you are on a budget, and rental car deals, especially ahead of time, are pretty good right now, prolly even cheaper than cabbing it.  Travelzoo.com has good deals that I have used... just saw one recently on there re: rental cars..... FWIW.

Also, depending on what type of place you want to stay, I use hotels.com a LOT!  I have been pretty satisfied with what I get, and they tend to represent properties fairly.  I also like hotwire, but you have to then seek out external blogs that will give you a clue as to the property you are getting, since they do not tell you the property until after you purchase (just the amenities/town or city). 

Just for fun, I put in the first week of may into hotels.com, and chose healdsburg and Calistoga (at the southern end of AV).  Here is the link so you can get an idea of SOME of the economical accomodations in the area:

http://www.hotels.com/search.do?destination=Healdsburg%2C+California%2C+United+States&searchParams.arrivalDate=05%2F01%2F11&searchParams.departureDate=05%2F05%2F11&rooms=1&searchParams.rooms[0].numberOfAdults=2&children[0]=0&asaReport=HomePage%3A%3ACity&destinationId=1436785&searchParams.landmark=&hotelId=#vt=LIST&rl=destination%3A1436785%3APROVIDED%3APROVIDED&pfm=1&dn=Healdsburg,+California,+United+States&cd=05/01/11&dd=05/05/11&nr=1&pn=1&so=BEST_SELLER&pfcc=USD&minp=0&maxp=500&ming=0&maxg=5&nids[]=6055379&nids[]=6055383&r=2&cpr=0

 

I recommend that you look at a map of the AV area... Healdsburg, on the northern end, is, IMO, a good "home base" to stay... many of the wineries we mention here are easily accessible by car (or bike if in excellent biking condition), from Healdsburg.  If you stay in the square, you can shop, dine and taste by foot.  You will not hit the BEST wineries the area has to offer by foot, but if necessary, it is an option.

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Reply by napagirl68, Mar 9, 2011.

ARRGh.  Forgot to mention sausal winery in AV if you are into zins

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 9, 2011.

Forget AV. Go RRV. There are even houses you can rent near the river for less than most any other hotel, motel or B&B. Plenty more romantic if the right one, too.

However, a car is a useful item. What are the issues here, just cost, or worry about tasting-and-driving or...?

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Reply by outthere, Mar 9, 2011.

@ VM Fanucchi - I have some of the Wind Gap Fanucchi Wood Rd Trousseau Gris in my cellar. Wonderful wine and we all know good wine starts in the vineyard. A+

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Reply by madmanny, Mar 9, 2011.

Try Priceline for cars just before you go (day of is fine).  I've gotten cars as cheaply as $12 a day (which winds up arounf $20-$25 after all the airport charges).  Driving does give you the flexibility to stay longer where you want and blow off the places that don't appeal.

FYI, I love the town of Healdsburg as a base.  Lots of restaurant options - at all price levels, tasting rooms, etc.

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Reply by tabednar, Mar 9, 2011.

I think I am looking at staying at Healdsburg. We would really like to visit Jordan, Silver Oak, and Simi. I am interested in the Cabins on the River mentioned by dmcker in RRV (Link?). As of a right now we are looking at flying into San Francisco and renting a car. We are a bit concerned about cost of getting a car there but you all have convinced us that it is the way to go. We would like to do some biking just for fun if anyone knows of some good bike tours. I think we are going to try to spend a day in each the RRV, AV, and Dry Creek. It sounds like that is the way to go. Still reading through all the great advice. Thanks for all the help and please keep the info coming.

Cheers,

Tim

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 9, 2011.

Here are some links to those cabins, etc. in an older thread on Going to Sonoma. It would also be worthwhile to scan through the whole thread for other recommendations, too, I think...

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Reply by madmanny, Mar 9, 2011.

Some of the hotels and B&Bs have free bikes for guests. 

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Reply by napagirl68, Mar 10, 2011.

Guerneville http://www.riverhomes.com/

This is who we use:  http://www.jennervacationrentals.com/  Jenner is at the end of the russian river where the river meets the sea.  Very gorgeous and quaint.  Not any type of night life or shopping by foot.  You'd have to drive into guerneville or sebastopol.   But I love swimming in the river side of Goat rock beach.  Don't go in the ocean side... waves/undertoe are deadly.

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