Wine & Travel

Snooth User: Eric Guido

Going to Napa

Posted by Eric Guido, Jun 11, 2009.

Well it's official. I'll be going to Napa from July 6th through the 10th for my first official vacation for over three years. Got a sweet room at a place in St. Helena and I'm looking for recommendations of what the best places are to taste. I plan on spending at least two days in the Valley tasting, with a day trip out to Santa Cruz mountains and a day on the town in San Fran.

So in two days in the Valley, what's my best plan of attack? Any recommendations?

Thanks

1 2 3 next

Replies

20
6432
Reply by dmcker, Jun 11, 2009.

Have you been there before? And what are your favorite Napa wines? There are so many options and your time is so brief that you'll need to be selective. And what are your plans in San Fran and Santa Cruz? Do they also involve good wine?

806
538
Reply by Eric Guido, Jun 11, 2009.

First time in Napa and I'm not well versed in Napa wines. I've enjoyed Phelps Backus, Pride Merlot, Stag's Leaps Cab, Cliff Lede and a few others but I'm not familiar with many of the wines. This is something of an introduction for me.

Santz Cruz I know a bit more about and I hope to visit Ridge, Mount Eden and Boony Doon.

As for San Francisco, that's more of the tourist part of my trip. I was there once before and loved it and so I plan to start the day at Muir Woods, then hit the Warf by lunch and spend the rest of the day eating, drinking and enjoying the city.

20
6432
Reply by dmcker, Jun 11, 2009.

If you like old-style seafood in San Francisco you should try the Tadich Grill instead of Fisherman's Wharf. The seafood is always fresh and absolutely delicious, they serve classic dishes, the winelist is a representive one, and the old wooden booths make me wonder about the deals that were struck there over the years. The bartender does good cocktails, too, which is handy since last I knew they still don't take reservations, but they don't need to. They're in the Financial District, on California St. I believe, and I don't think they have a website but, again, they don't need to. Google them and you'll see lots of favorable comments, I'm sure. I've been going there for decades, and have never once been disappointed.

Do a tasting at Phelps. It's not particularly personal, pretty standard in that respect, but they make a lot of good wine and they will answer your questions readily. Neyers is also a personal favorite, and he's had his own winery for several years now though he made wine under that name for many years before he actually got a winery. He used to be the winemaker at Phelps, I believe, so you can see the direction he branched into. Visit Stag's Leap, and also Silver Oak, who make quite good cabs, which is nearby. If you want to picnic for lunch, you could stop at the Oakville Grocery
http://www.oakvillegrocery.com/stor...
or purchase wines there from wineries that you're not visiting, I suppose. Nearby is Opus One, which also warrants a visit at least once, and regardless of your views on their wine provides an interesting counterpoint to other wineries and their tastings. That's more than a full day already, I would think.

I have many, many other favorites I've visited several times over the years (Schramsberg, Montelena, Cakebread, etc., etc., etc., even Swanson for the style of their tastings and their merlots, I suppose), but I'll leave your second day for others and their recommendations. ;-)

Lots of good restaurants in the Santa Cruz mountains area, too, thanks to all that money spreading from Silicon Valley....

806
538
Reply by Eric Guido, Jun 11, 2009.

That's great stuff, Thanks for all the tips. Sad how ignorant I am of Cali wine but hopefully this trip will change that a bit. I'll certainly take these recommendations to heart. Thanks again.

7127
2921
Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jun 12, 2009.

Very little to add but visits I would consider

Mayacamas
Montelena
Swanson
Taylor's refresher

Wineries in or around St. Helena

Charles Krug - it's super historic and has produced wonderful wines for decades, this, quite possibly, remains the best value in California Cab.

Seavey - One of the best values in Napa cab at the middle price range.

Mario Pirelli Minetti - A winery you never hear about, that might be a very good thing, but I haven't tasted their wines in ages but back in the day they were some really solid and well priced examples.

Howell Mountain Vineyards - Doesn't seem right I know but evidently they are in St. Helena. Massive yet balanced Zins. I like.

Corison another winery you don't hear too much about but Cathy Corisons elegant Cabernets are delightful if not in vogue.

Charter oak - More great Zin but their Cab ain't too bad either!


You have time to go to Sonoma?

2031
3202
Reply by Philip James, Jun 12, 2009.

Eric - I really liked the tour at Far Niente, you get to see the cellars, as well as the former owners impressive exotic car collection. You also try the Dolce (dessert wine), of which I'm a big fan.

Route 28 for the large wineries - you should at least SEE Mondavi, Opus One etc. Then Silverado Trail, for a beautiful winding road thats almost parallel to route 28, just on the other side of the valley, and to drop in on some smaller wineries.

203
33
Reply by Derek67, Jun 12, 2009.

Eat at Mustards in Napa and make time to go to Cooper-Garrod when you are in the SCMs.

20
6432
Reply by dmcker, Jun 12, 2009.

You should also get to see the cellars and other parts of the production line at least at Opus One and Cakebread, with lots of attention from their winemakers, at least in my experience. They and Mondavi (a larger, slicker operation but great if you happen to catch them when they have a concert going) and the Oakville Grocery are all immediately adjacent to each other, so efficient to do as a group. Another subgrouping might be Montelena and Schramsberg up at the top of the valley. The valley doesn't seem that large at first glance, but once you start visiting the rich range of operations there efficient logistical planning really makes a difference ;-). And another marketing choice would be Dean & Deluca's for food and wine back in the room or to take home, but the Oakville Grocery has a lot more history there as part of the community, and feels much more personal. You can talk to their management about wines and learn a thing or two, as well.

Regarding restaurants, Mustards has been reliably good over the years, but I haven't been there recently. Have done several business luncheons there, to everyone's satisfaction. Brix in Yountville has also been quite good, though I haven't been there since they redid themselves. And if you somehow want an Italian fix (since I believe you like wines and food from that neck of the woods ;-) ) to provide an interesting touchstone and perspective while there, try Tra Vigne in St. Helena. I've had good food at their pizzeria, and their restaurant is quite nice. Saving last for best, if your wallet can afford it, try to get a sitting at the French Laundry. The food (and winelist) justify its reputation. Am curious how full their bookings remain in this economy....

If you want to eat at a delicious and beautiful restaurant in the Marin redwoods area as you head to San Francisco, book a table at the Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur. Another classic wine country/SanFran/Silicon Valley hideaway destination restaurant. Ooooppppssss! Just googled them and see they closed about a month ago, after all these years, and recloned themselves as the Lark Creek Tavern and the rest of the Lark Creek Group.
http://www.larkcreek.com/
Looks like the economy has demanded restructuring in this area as well, but also that all that entrepreneurial expertise and capital in the region led to an interesting metamorphosis. Would be curious to hear how the new version is. One Market is in their group, which is also good food...

BTW, meant to ask if you're staying in St. Helena the whole time? If you're using that as a base (an impression I got from reading your initial post), while traveling all the way down to San Fran and Santa Cruz, that's an awful lot of unnecessary driving, I would think. Staying somewhere in The City (yeah, I was born in Berkeley and us Bay Area 'natives' still call it that) for the second half of your trip would seem to make more sense. I may, of course, be jumping to an improper conclusion here...

806
538
Reply by Eric Guido, Jun 12, 2009.

dmcker,

I'm strange in a way that I have issues moving between more than one hotel in a vacation. I know what you mean about being kind of far from Santa Cruz and the city but we were forced to make very last minute plans and it really screwed with our ability to stay at our first choices for lodging.

Unfortunately, French Laundry is booked. I even tried to call in a favor from a fellow chef but I guess I don't rank high enough on the food chain. We did make reservations at Meadowood, which came highly recommended. So far that's the only restaurant that we've booked.

Greg,

Thanks for the suggestions, I'll take a look at the sights and see about making reservations and such. It's crazy that you have to make reservations at all of these wineries.

Philip,

Thanks, you're the second person to suggest Far Niente so it looks like I'll have to check it out.

Thanks

20
6432
Reply by dmcker, Jun 13, 2009.

Well, as suspected, there is still plenty of French Laundry-level money out there...

Do you, or your friends, know anyone in Napa or even San Fran in the wine or food industry? Alternatively, maybe your inn in St. Helena can help you book a reservation at French Laundry. They should also be able to help you with reservations at the wineries.

And if you're wanting to complain about winetasting reservations, for more than half of my years visiting the area *all* tastings at *all* wineries were gratis. Ah, the good old days...

20
6432
Reply by dmcker, Jun 13, 2009.

If you can get anyone at Meadowood to ask for you, I'd be surprised if they couldn't get you into French Laundry. They and Auberge du Soleil most certainly have that clout.

806
538
Reply by Eric Guido, Jun 14, 2009.

I have a few friends out there but no one that has any clout. Also, I'm not staying at meadowood, I'm eating there. I'll ask the Inn I'm staying at though, they may be able to help.

Thanks again, lots of great info here to work with.

20
6432
Reply by dmcker, Jun 15, 2009.

Good luck with that, was just offering some tried and true methodology. If you want some more casual (but still quite nice) eating places to try, with a more local (meaning winefolk) scene, the Rutherford Grill (in Rutherford) and Pearl's, in downtown Napa, are quite pleasant. They, and the Tra Vigne pizzeria (which charges no corkage fee), are all places locals have taken me (won't bother to mention the bars afterwards ;-) ).

Also in St. Helena's is Martini House, where I had a couple of great meals earlier this decade. Have been to most all of Kuleto's restaurants in San Fran over the years, and the place Todd Humphries used to chef at in the City, Campton Place, is perhaps my favorite hotel in that town, with a very nice restaurant. They did Martini House together, so it was a no-brainer to try it. Liked the layout, the bar downstairs, and, of course the food and wine. But again, I haven't been there in a couple of years.

0
1
Reply by adam winters, Jun 17, 2009.

There's a great restaurant in St Helena called Press. I've been there a few times. Great wine, food and vibe. Try going to Frias Family Vineyards in St Helena. Google the number and ask for Manny. Really nice guys. He makes fantastic wine

26
9
Reply by carey1, Jun 18, 2009.

I second the recommendation for -Taylors Refresher- right off the Hwy. (get the sweet potato fries). Also -Martini House- We had a spectacular Chef's Menu there not too long ago, that showcased all different types of mushrooms and paired perfectly with Cabernet. What could be better in Napa!

806
538
Reply by Eric Guido, Jun 18, 2009.

Thanks Adam and Carey, I'll be sure to check these out. Thanks a lot.

7127
2921
Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jun 19, 2009.

Carey's 2 reccos are my top two choice.

By the way Larkmead's winemaker, Dan Petroski, is a regular contributor here. You should reach out to him.

806
538
Reply by Eric Guido, Jun 19, 2009.

Sounds like Larkmead is a must stop location, about five people have recommended them. Thanks Greg.

806
538
Reply by Eric Guido, Jun 19, 2009.

PS; do you know what name Dan goes by here on the forum?

7127
2921
Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jun 19, 2009.

Here he is:http://www.snooth.com/profiles/danp...

1 2 3 next



Continue to the end of the thread to reply
Back to Categories

Top Contributors This Month

324443 Snooth User: outthere
324443outthere
141 posts
1498622 Snooth User: Really Big Al
1498622Really Big Al
124 posts
125836 Snooth User: dmcker
125836dmcker
119 posts

Categories

View All




Snooth Media Network