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Wineries Not to Miss - Starter List Provided

Ottawa, Canada
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Wineries Not to Miss - Starter List Provided

This is our second trip to Napa, and we are staying 4 days in Napa (Napa River Inn) and 4 days in Sonoma (Fairmont). Have TA recommended restaurents all picked out, but TA does not have a "Wineries" tab so I still need TA EXPERT advice. Have scoured many recent posts. Please see list and let me know if we are missing anything.

Napa: Artesa, Domaine Carneros, Opus One, Cakebread, Del Dotto, Reguiski, Nicholson Ranch, Silveroak, Merryvale

Somona: Kenwood, Ledson, Chateau St. Jean, Mayo Reserve Tasting (need more here!)

Napa, CA
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1. Re: Wineries Not to Miss - Starter List Provided

Canada_One-

Since there are over 400 wineries in the Napa Valley (and hundreds more in Sonoma, just minutes away), it's pretty near impossible to do a "top 10" list of wineries.

Most travelers will post where they've gone and liked it-- but what do you do when you've been to over 100 wineries in Napa/Sonoma-- and can recommend nearly all of them?

Another problem: Some of Napa's greatest treasures are the small, family-owned wineries. Stop in and you can often meet the owner or wine maker-- and get a very special, personalized wine tasting.

(doesn't sound like a problem, eh? ;)

Problem is, these places are sooooo small, that some are only allowed a dozen or so visitors a day. So you'll never read about them in a magazine/newspaper, or in these forums, or see them on a TV show about the Napa Valley. Because just one mention could sell out their entire production, and would force them to turn away visitors each day.

Thankfully, there are 2 really good ways of finding out about these small wineries:

1. Read the book "A Moveable Thirst". It's the story of 2 guys who went to every single Napa Valley wine tasting room open to the public. *Great* info:

http://amzn.to/MoveableThirst

2. When you get here, chat up a couple of locals. Most folks here have their favorite small wineries-- and are happy to share them w/you. :)

If you're a real "planner" this advice may drive you nutz-- please know, we're not trying to frustrate you! Sometimes the most amazing things happen here when you don't plan them. So try to allow a bit of time each day for serendipity, and just letting the conversations go where they may-- it can really make for a memorable trip!

Hoping this helps? :)

-The Innkeepers

Napa Old World Inn

Forestville...
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for Sonoma
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2. Re: Wineries Not to Miss - Starter List Provided

Great, very realistic advice from Napa Old World. If you have some time prior to leaving for your trip, buy copies of these books (in addition to "Moveable Thirst" which is a vastly informative--and greatly entertaining book): "Back Lane Wineries of Sonoma" and "Back Lane Wineries of Napa". Both were written by Tilar Mazzeo and come in a compact format so you can easily bring them with you on your trip. Be sure to confirm info. you read in the books as far as hours and location for wineries/tasting rooms since some things may have changed since publication. As NOWI has indicated, there are so many fine places to visit that even locals can't keep up, and everything depends upon an individual's personable tastes with regard to what constitutes a truly great winery. Therefore, some in-depth research is necessary in order to maximize your enjoyment. (In the past I have highly offended an OP when I suggested that they really needed to do further research, so let me add that I don't mean to be disrespectful in offering this advice).

Ottawa, Canada
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3. Re: Wineries Not to Miss - Starter List Provided

In depth research, just what I was afraid of ! :-) That and realistic advise. Sigh. Reading is a luxury these days, which is why I am looking forward to 10 days in Napa / Sonoma. OK - one order from Amazon coming up. Thanks for responding. I am sure the "experts" get tired of the same old question.

Napa, CA
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4. Re: Wineries Not to Miss - Starter List Provided

Canada_One-

We *do* sometimes tire of the same questions-- but that's not what's happening here.

Folks who have been to the wine country once or twice will tell you their favorites-- based on the half dozen places (total) they know. As much fun as that might be, you can miss out on some great places!

Moveable Thirst is a fun read. The first half is like a travelogue, and the last half is reference-- you can look up any of the 140+ wineries, and get a brief synopsis of what the tasting room is like.

We assume you're here *because* you're a planner (and like research). If that's not true, heck, just wing it: Get here, chat up the locals, and have a blast.

Either way, you'll have a great time! :)

-The Innkeepers

Napa Old World Inn

.

Edited: 7:53 pm, August 14, 2010
Kentucky
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198 posts
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5. Re: Wineries Not to Miss - Starter List Provided

Peju.....VJB...Domaine Carneros, V Satui, ...Roundpond..

Seattle
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6. Re: Wineries Not to Miss - Starter List Provided

Definitely keep Nicholson Ranch on your list - that was one of our favorites. We also like Ravenswood, Gundlach Bundschu and Viansa in the Sonoma/Carneros region.

Nice, California
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7. Re: Wineries Not to Miss - Starter List Provided

Make sure you visit the Del Dotto winery in St. Helena, the new one. He also has one in the town of Napa. But the St. Helena one is spectacular to see.

Another great winery in Yountville is Jessup Cellars. Have Fun!!

Ottawa, Canada
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32 posts
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8. Re: Wineries Not to Miss - Starter List Provided

Napa Old World Inn,

Wow - where do you find the time to reply to all these posts! I am a planner for sure, have pre-booked almost all restaurents (I really dislike standing on the street wondering where to eat). Thanks for the responses - really.

Ottawa, Canada
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32 posts
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9. Re: Wineries Not to Miss - Starter List Provided

Thanks to all that responded. Last weekend prior to leaving (30 Aug) - making bookings AND leaving time for some whimsy - I hope.

Napa, CA
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10. Re: Wineries Not to Miss - Starter List Provided

Canada_One-

Thanks for your kind words.

Helping folks is what we do! (whether they stay w/us, or not :).

We love spending time each day helping our guests plan their trips, and making reservations for them. We post here when we have a spare minute or two.

When we travel, we use the TA forums extensively for the same thing--helping us get "immersed" in the local culture, finding the great spots the locals love. Answering questions here is just a small way of saying thanks for all the incredible advice and help we've gotten over the years from other gracious TripAdvisor posters. :)

Cheers,

-The Innnkeepers

Napa Old World Inn

.

Edited: 12:23 pm, August 21, 2010