Wine & Travel

Snooth User: almtapp

Where to go in Napa/Sonoma in March?

Original post by almtapp, Nov 3, 2010.

My fiance and I are planning our first trip to Napa /Sonoma for our Honeymoon the first week of March. We don't have much planned yet, so would like some advice. Currently, we have a B&B in Healdsburg booked for the last 4 days of the trip...which just so happens to coincide with the first Russian River Wine Road Barrel Tasting of the year. So excited! We are hoping to get another (cheaper) hotel for our first 4 days, perhaps in a different location/town? Anyone have advice? Also, would love to get feedback on the wineries we "MUST" go to. We both prefer reds.

Replies

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Reply by napagirl68, Nov 10, 2010.

You MUST visit Mauritson Family vineyards (dry creek).  MUST. http://www.mauritsonwines.com/

I also second Frick Winery.. great CA rhones.  I also really like Bella Vineyards in Healdsburg.  http://www.bellawinery.com/   I prolly already mentioned these in an earlier post, but wanted to address Homestar's visit.

Howell Mtn is great....Outpost in Howell mtn. is amazing. They taste by appt.  My fav wine there is this one- I tasted it at Rhone Rangers last march- my all-time fave Petite Syrah so far:

http://www.outpostwines.com/wines/06_PetiteSirah-TheOther_howell_mountain.html 

 

 

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Reply by homestar, Nov 11, 2010.

Wow.  Thank you so much!  If I can get even half of this done I'll have a fabulous trip.  It sounds like my target areas are Healdsburg, Howell Mtn., and Dry creek.  It also sounds like I should add at least another day!

Something other touristas here might what to know too:  Is there any particular ettiquette associated with making/conducting appointments at these places?  A minimum purchase point? (I mean, we know the wines will be good or you all wouldn't be recommending them). 

Great info here. thanks again!

 

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Reply by napagirl68, Nov 11, 2010.

Just call ahead and arrange the appt.  Unless the wine is not good to me, I will usually pick up 2-3 bottles.  My BIGGEST problem when going where you're going, is coming home and thinking, "I spent HOW MUCH  this weekend?!?!?"   And thinking, where the heck am I gonna store all this wine???  Just over 24 hrs in Napa last weekend, and I came home with 4 cases!!! 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Nov 11, 2010.

Okay, not sure if they were seconding me or I am thirding some of the others: Scherrer is great BUT does not keep regular tasting hours.  Call ahead--they have a November open house, but that's all I know about.  They are down in Sebastopol, it's not far from DCV and Healdsburg, but it's not the same place.  Healdsburg is the gateway to DCV and if you are in H'burg you MUST go to Mauritson.  I recommend Bella, also--real caves if they have them open.  Talty is between the two, as I remember, and is awesome for Zins, plus you can taste Steve Maclaren's Syrah there--some of the best Syrah anywhere.  (Although I recently had the Bell Canterbury Block Six while in Napa and that may be the best Syrah in America.) The Unti family is a hub of the wine business in DCV and grows many Rhone varietals on different blocks, so you can put to rest the argument that Cali wines don't show terroir by tasting there, as well as Mauritson and Talty, who have blocks that show remarkably different characteristics.

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Reply by homestar, Nov 11, 2010.

Those sound like great suggestions.  Yes, I noticed that Scherrer is only open on weekends after labor day, and my window is so small I hesitate to contact them.  Another trip perhaps.  Also, Zazu is not open on Tuesday nights, the one night I could have done that. SO--these suggestions are very helpful indeed and it sounds like I have a Healdsburg trip taking shape.  Thanks.

 

 

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Reply by vin0vin0, Nov 12, 2010.

OK, you got me excited here since we're heading back to Russian River next week. I went back over our tasting notes from last February's trip and Mauritson was indeed high on the list, especially their Rockpile Zins.  We had a very good takeout lunch next door at the Dry Creek General Store (ate on their picnic tables out front, don't be afraid of the bikers, they won't bite).

Two other places downtown that also scored high on our list were Longboard and Davis Family Vineyards. Too many great wines, too little time, enjoy your trip!

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Reply by napagirl68, Nov 12, 2010.

VV- I also really loved Mauritson's 2008 Sauv Blanc a LOT!

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Reply by homestar, Nov 12, 2010.

Was thinking we'd go to Mauritson's vineyard...looks good (and I love Sauv. Blanc).  These other suggestions sound great!  Any suggestions for dinner in and around Santa Rosa?

 

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Reply by outthere, Nov 13, 2010.

Tuesday night makes it dicey since that's the normal slow night that most restaurants close on.

If you don't mind a 15 minute drive from Santa Rosa I would like to suggest a small neighborhood jewel in Forestville called Mosaic Restaurant & Wine Lounge $$$. Well worth seeking out. Also in Forestville (a culinary hotbed if I may sat so myself) is the Farmhouse Inn $$$$ whose French inspired cuisine had won Michelin rating. Another 7-10 minutes west of Forestville you can find the newly Michelin Starred Applewood Inn and Restaurant $$$

In Santa Rosa proper: In the Railroad Square district there is Syrah Bistro $$$ or at the extreme north end of town is John Ash & Co $$$ at the Vintners Inn.

Bon Appétit!

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Reply by overpar56, Nov 16, 2010.

Sometimes your local wine store can hook you up with private tours/visits. Their wine reps can get you a visit to some non-public wineries and since it's not in the middle of harvest when you're going, you might get lucky.

I got into Opus One that way a few year's back. Some of the really premium ones in Napa you really have to KNOW someone, probably by blood relation and that still might not be good enough. :)

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Reply by homestar, Nov 21, 2010.

Many thanks to those of you who helped me to have a fabulous DAY on Dry Creek Rd.  That's what it came down to.  So I'm reporting back for others who may read this thread planning their trip.

We started the day driving out Guernville Rd. to the west of Santa Rosa toward Forestville.  There are many nice wineries out there and the day was beautiful, but it was too early to taste. We were just taking in country--but it's definitely some place to go back to.  We arrived at Healdsburg city square about 10 AM and got coffee and scones and walked around the area.  It's very nice, and one could spend the day there easily.

Our tasting trek started about 11 AM, and we got a bit lost on W. Dry Creek road and wound up at Everett Ridge winery.  Beautiful place.  Mario the patriarch set us outside overlooking the valley and poured generously.  The wines were surprisingly good and he poured all of them. We learned that the Dry Creek Rd. we were looking for was off to the east.

Once there, we took this columns' advice and went to Mauritson's.  The lady there was great, the wines nice.  My favorite things were the Sauvignon Blancs and the two yellow labs. I bought the Blancs but she wouldn't sell the dogs.  She was wowed to learn they had been so highly recommended on the Snooth forum. So impressed was she that she called up Unit (just up the road) and also got hold of Talty's (recommended above, but only by appt.).  Both were perfect--very small wineries with very good wines.  Especially Talty's.  It was lovely to talk to both of the winemakers.

We drove on up Dry Creek Rd. but did not stop at Bella's as planned.  Next trip.  To get over east to highway 101 on Canyon Rd. we stopped at Pedroncelli's, an old time favorite of mine, and learned we just had to jog north to hit Silver Oak.  Well, why not?  We had the place to ourselves, and he poured a few older vintages just for fun.  A great way to end the afternoon.

OK.  well, I changed the reservations at Dry Creek Kitchen to Zazu's and I'm not sorry.  The food and enviornment were fabulous, and a more perfect ending to my day.  Thanks for your advice.  The moral of the story is plan for no less than 3 days when you go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reply by homestar, Nov 21, 2010.

Correction: that winery was Unti's (not Unit)...  some good syrah, a huge petite syrah, and good zins.

 

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Reply by outthere, Nov 21, 2010.

I knew you would love Zazu. From atmosphere to food to wine list they are top shelf for a quaint little place. I am biased as I live in Forestville but West County rocks.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Nov 21, 2010.

You hit virtually all my must-dos.  Mauritson should know that Napagirl and a few others are touting them here, as I let the winemaker know a while back.  The Taltys and Untis are super nice folks, and the Untis in particular are at the heart of the DCV wine community.  Others to hit when you go to Bella someday are Preston--pretty much Rhones only and they make olive oil and bake on site--and Teldeschi, who grows for Seghesio as well as making his own amazing wines that you cannot find outside the area. I have always gone to Talty with friends who know when it's open, so I had no idea there was any restriction.  Virtually all of them will see you with an appointment.

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Reply by pepp168, Nov 27, 2010.

I was just out there in Septmeber, and we too stayed in Healdsburg. Notable tastings for us were at Jordan and at J (they are not cheap, but the wines are all paired with food so it is worthwhile- make an appt.). We loved Preston, Quivira (most fun staff!), and Dry Creek Vineyard. In Healdsburg, you also have Seghesio, where you can picnic and play bocce while sipping on some wines (Try their Arneis and Fiano as there are not many US producers of these, but certainly do not forget their Zins.) and the SIMI winery- pizza and wine!

Not the biggest fan of Napa compared to Sonoma, but we really enjoyed Cakebread Cellars, and dining in Yountville (Bouchon, Ad Hoc, and Botega). Good Luck!

 

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Reply by strofan23, Nov 27, 2010.

Lots of great info, everyone!  Hope you all had a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

'Sometimes when I reflect back on all the wine I drink

I feel shame  .    Then I look into the glass and think

about the workers in the vineyards and all of their hopes

and dreams  .. If I didn't drink this wine, they might be out

of work and their dreams would be shattered.

Then I say to myself, 'It is better that I drink this wine and let their

dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver.'

~ Jack Handy

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Reply by xxxtina, Dec 11, 2010.

You MUST go to Benziger at their Sonoma Mountain property!  The tour is WONDERFUL.  They are a biodynamic winery, so a bit different.  www.benziger.com  Their top wine, Tribute, is spectacular.  The winery backs up onto Jack London park, where you can go horseback riding, as well.  

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Dec 12, 2010.

If you want to stay near the Sonoma Mountain property and Jack London Park (which is worth a trip--hard to believe how much he crammed into his life) and you can afford the price, I highly recommend Gaige House B&B in Glen Ellen.  We stayed there years ago and it is beautiful; the hosts have just the right level of engagement--not as chatty as some B&B folks can be, but right there when you need something. It may have been swallowed up by a chain of small inns since we were there, but it still gets rave reviews. Arrowood is right around the corner, too.  I don't love their wines--they are fine but they don't slay me at the price--but the winery and original winemaker (Richard Arrowood) are an important part of California's wine history, short though it is. Tasting and tours by appointment. 

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Reply by napagirl68, Dec 12, 2010.

Glen Ellen is great.  I, too, have stayed at the Gaige House in the past and found it wonderful.  I also loved the Jack London Park... great for hiking and seeing wild life such as wild turkeys, quail, and one fox (in our case!).  If I recall, we ate at the Glen Ellen Inn, which was very quaint.. nice ambiance, decent food and wine...

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Dec 13, 2010.

NG, wonder if our paths crossed?  Nice thing about Glen Ellen and Gaige is that it's also a short drive into Sonoma proper, and you can park a block or two before the square, find a spot and avoid the traffic.  Girl and the Fig is the restaurant we went to, I think, and where I first got excited about wines from the Rhone.  There used to be a more casual branch of that restaurant (G and F is pretty casual) in Glen Ellen itself, I think, called the Girl and the Gaucho. 



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