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First time visit / honeymoon

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Key West
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First time visit / honeymoon

Ok here it is...I've read and re-read this and several other forums now several times. Now I'm not sure about any of the plans I had. I'll post some backround info on us and what are plan "was" any sugestions are appreciated.

My fiancee and I are planning of spending our honeymoon in California Wine country. We are planing on traveling to San Francisco on or around Sept 7th spending one or two day there then going to either Sonoma or Napa. We had originally thought about a few days in Sonoma and maybe on in Napa. Again the more I read the more I confuse myself. We both love food and wine, and she writes a local food blog for Key West ( www.prissyinparadise.com ) We are not looking to blow tons of money but are not on a strict budget. We appreciate quality over quantity. cheep is good if it's fresh and local and the golden rule No chain restaurants.

1. Saw Duval Crawlers post on the Ferry, Anyone done this?

2. Are the guided "wine tours" worth it or just a tourists rip off?

3. Does it make sense to stay a few days in Healdsburgs then move on to another place.

4 Where to stay in Healdsburg?

5. Where to stay in Napa if Healdsburg is not a good option for there.

6 A few good high quality winery's to visit that are "must do's"

7 Shipping wine home, worth it or not.

I'm sure I will have a million more dumb questions.

Thanks,

Bonez

Napa, CA
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1. Re: First time visit / honeymoon

Splitting your stay between Healdsburg and the Napa Valley is a good idea if you have 4 or 5 days in the wine country. Which is best really depends on what wineries you are interested in. Do you drink wines from any of these regions?

There are fabulous restaurants and lodging choices in all the major towns in the Napa Valley and also in Sonoma and Healdsburg. There are also a number of fine inns out in the country that are not right in the towns.

Are you looking for a resort, B&B, small inn, or a chain hotel? There are several really luxurious and expensive places to stay for a honeymoon but they will cost upwards of $600 per night. What is your budget?

The ferry is not really an option. It's mainly for commuters who park at the ferry terminal. Public transit to Napa is slow and not very comfortable. It can work if you are using a tour company that will pick you up. This is usually done by folks who are not intending to rent a car for their stay. Renting a car in Vallejo is possible, I guess but it is not something that is regularly done by tourists.

Key West
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2. Re: First time visit / honeymoon

Superclious,

Thanks for the response.

Yes we drink wines from The 2 regions. On my list of places I want to visit so far are Summers Winery, and we will be working with our local wine bar to set up a visit to the T-Vine Winery (if it's possible) We also drink wines for the Sonoma region but have no big favorites.

I think 2-3 days in each Napa and Sonoma will be enough for both of us, that with another 2 or 3 days in San Francisco should be a nice. We don't want to feel rushed at any place. Small inn's or B&B's are nice the only place I might be interested in a chain hotel is in SF and there I would want one with a shuttle from the airport as we are not planning on renting a car until we leave for either Sonoma or Napa. I would like to keep the hotel budget to around $200-$250 a night if that is possible, if not and we have to fall back to the Chain hotels we understand. Our food and drink and entertainment budget will likely be in the $200-$250 a day range. (not including wine to ship home) Is this a "reasonable" budget? Less is good, more is not ruled out at all.

The ferry idea sounded good, we were thinking of arriving in SF, getting a hotel with an airport shuttle. We would than spend one or two nights in SF rent a car at one of the off airport locations, driving to wine country for our stay. Coming home we would return the car and stay one night at a hotel that has an airport shuttle before flying home. Good plan?

Thanks again,

Bonez

Santa Cruz...
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3. Re: First time visit / honeymoon

Just FYI, hotels in San Francisco, chain or not, do not have shuttles to and from the airport. If you want a shuttle you will need to hire a private one from/to the airport.

The other options to getting the 13 miles into the city are BART (Bay Area Rapid Transi) to one of the stations on Market Street, then walking or cabbing to your hotel, or taking a cab all the way, or hiring a limo service.

Key West
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4. Re: First time visit / honeymoon

Wow, no airport shuttles. Kind of odd, but I guess the taxi union has the lock on the airport. Approximately how much is it for a taxi into the city for 2? Does the BART system go directly into the airport and is it easy to use. Getting a cab after a downtown stop easy? (I don't do super well in big cities so this is my one gigantic fear of the whole trip)

Bonez

Napa, CA
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5. Re: First time visit / honeymoon

San Francisco is not that big a city. It's not even the largest city in the Bay Area (San Jose is). San Francisco is kind of a Kew West on steroids. It's surrounded on three sides by water and has some very similar tourist attractions. BART works really well and is faster and cheaper than using surface transportation.

Interesting wineries you want to visit. Summers and T-Vine are both Calistoga operations but T-Vines new facility hasn't opened yet and you have to visit them at Regusci in the Stags Leap District if you can get an appointment.

I would recommend that you look at Calistoga for your Napa stay. Here's where you can find a B&B in your price range:

tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g32143-c2-Calistoga_N…

Calistoga is a fun town with lively bars and restaurants and hot spring pools. If you are foodies, then maybe staying in Yountville or Napa would be better but those towns have a different vibe than Calistoga which is probably closer to Key West than the others.

Rocklin, California
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6. Re: First time visit / honeymoon

If you rent a car, maybe driving to Mendocino and wine tasting in the Anderson Valley would be a nice choice, especially if neither of you have seen the California coastlijne - much different from Florida's. Or, you cound drive from the Napa/Sonoma/Healdsburg area and try the wineries on the Russian River - quite a few tasting rooms there - and work your way out to the coast. Lots of very nice places to stay north and south of the Russian River on the coast without going all the way to Mendocino.

Key West, Florida
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7. Re: First time visit / honeymoon

Hello, everyone. Thank you for all your wonderful information and suggestions! I am CaptBonez's other half, the one who loves cities :)

Also, a little about us and "the Key West vibe". Not trying to sound snotty (not at all--I thank you for the info), we live here in KW and obviously love it, but we do not hang on lower Duval getting drunk at Sloppy Joe's. We enjoy good wine and good food in the "not quite so touristy" sections of the city amidst wine bars and art galleries. We just finished the 3rd Annual Key West Food & Wine Festival and spoke to one of the major players at T-Vine and a rep from Summers, so that is one reason we want to see them. Lucysmom, I'd love to see the CA coast again (I've been to Monterey on business, never SF or wine country) with my new husband and it sounds like we have the time to do it. Thank you :)

San Francisco, Ca
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8. Re: First time visit / honeymoon

>>Shipping wine home, worth it or not.<<

Depends on what you are shipping.... I'd only ship wines that you cannot get at home (or are substantially more expensive than the cost at the winery plus shipping). Wineries can ship direct to most states, or you can collect random bottles at several wineries, then get shipping materials and send from a UPS/Fed Ex store that has a wine shipping permit. (Not every location can do that, so ask at your hotel or look for the "ship wine here" signs.)

You could also box the wine securely and check it in as luggage for your flight home. This might work better if you're concerned about the effect of heat exposure on the wine during the shipping.

united states
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9. Re: First time visit / honeymoon

Hope this isn't going to be too late...but there are some great articles about Sonoma in Wine Spectator and in Sunset Magazine that might be helpful to you as you plan. Check the on line archives for each and see if there isn't something helpful regarding lodging and restaurant ideas.

If you have industry connections through your work, you might consider contacting one of the wineries with lodging on the property; I know that Wilson, Cline, Landmark, and Little Family all have guest cottages and I'm sure that there are others I don't know about. They wouldn't be close to town, but it may be an interesting location for a honeymoon. :)

Since you two are interested in food as well as wine, you should check the event calendar for the dates of your visit to see if there are any winemaker dinners coming up. During Harvest there definitley could be some really great opportunities at individual wineries; I know that Ledson, Wilson, and Bella have had good Harvest events in the past...just not sure if it was September.

About tours....well, it depends on what you want to get from them. If you're talking about a facility tour at specific wineries, those seem to be offered with a theme or educational component in mind, and we have found those very informative and interesting for the most part...you can get a crummy tour leader/ host anywhere, of course.

About shipping wine....it gets expensive in a hurry, that's for sure, and I don't know about shipping to Florida- as I recall there was a proposed shift in policy about a year ago wasn't there? We saved some pretty big bucks on different occasions by : 1) collecting wine as we went and then packing it ourselves in the lined shipping boxes and carrying it to SF, where we went to an authorized FEd Ex office and sent it. We saved about $10.00/box as I recall by taking it down to SF ourselves. 2) If you are a frequent flyer, check with your airline to find out what your luggage allowance is- could be that you get a couple of free bags/ticket and you can take the wine with you, as long as the shipper box meets the luggage size allowance for your airline. Just be sure to use the crates with a foam liner if you do this, and I would put bubble wrap around each bottle bottom as that is where its most likely to get crushed...those luggage handlers don't know the meaning of FRAGILE! ya' know...;)

Edited: 6:29 pm, March 23, 2012
Newberg, Oregon
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10. Re: First time visit / honeymoon

Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials. My bride and I spent our honeymoon in SF, Napa and Monterey Bay/Big Sur 41 years ago. Highly recommend that kind of a start to your marriage (certainly worked for us!)

Your budget looks doable -- won't accommodate French Laundry of course, but the likes of Rutherford Grill, Bistro Jeanty, Bouchon and loads of others will provide more than adequate eating pleasure. (There's always In-N-Out Burgers!) We never go on organized wine tours -- just check out wineries you're interested in and go on your own. Any specific varietals you're most enthusiastic about? And by all means have th wineries ship to your home, assuming the wines are not available to you at a reasonable price in Florida.

I'm always open to a PM if you have specific questions. Enjoy!