Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
sadistick

Wine country here we come!

Recommended Posts

Good day to you all!

The soon to be wife and I are headed to Hawaii for our honeymoon, and I want to stop in CA for a few nights to visit wine country.

The plan is to stay in San fran and rent a car to drive there.

So, let the questions begin!

I know of some wineries, 2 of which I really enjoy and would love to go, but have no idea their distance (we would like to keep the commute less than 2 hours)

The two being Newton and Williams Selleyem (sp?)

Looking for lunch and dining recommendations either in San Fran, or between San Fran and the wineries is fine.

Any suggestions on OTHER wineries would be equally appreciated as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, for starters, "wine country" is really vast so you need to narrow down where you want to go; Napa, Sonoma, Healdsburg, Mendocino?

Williams Selyem's vineyards are in the Russian River Valley and I don't believe they offer tastings or tours at their facility (could be wrong - I'd give them a call to check). Newton, on the other hand, is a few miles out of St. Helena which is the north end of the Napa Valley (probably closer to a 3-hour commute from here to the Russian River Valley).

The better restaurants are in Napa, but you haven't indicated when you are doing this. A lot of restaurants are closed for the down season -- into February. That said, my favorite restaurants in Napa are:

Ubuntu

Terra

Meadowood

Ubuntu

Martini House

Oh yeah, and Ubuntu

Cyrus in Healdsburg gets a lot of raves as well.

I'd suggest looking at this map and figure out what looks appealing. You are not going to want to commute 2 hours from one town to another (they don't look that far apart, but the curvy, 2-lane roads are deceptive).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have been to Cyrus twice, it's amazing! Also in Healdsburg is Dry Creek Kitchen was is very good, located at the Hotel Healdsburg. In Yountville check out Ad Hoc, REDD and Bistro Jeanty. Terra in nearby St. Helena is good for fine dining, for something more casual there is Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen next door to Terra. We will be trying Farm and Bottega this trip. Farm is located at the Carneros Inn in Napa, Bottega in Yountville.

In the Sonoma area: girl and the fig, El Dorado Kitchen, Cafe La Haye, the Swiss Hotel and Carneros are all very nice places to dine. Enjoy your trip! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi.

There's another great post HERE with some similar info.

If you have a nice afternoon with good weather, I'd recommend heading to Auberge du Soleil. Sit outside on the balcony, its on a hill overlooking the valley. I only had an appetizer (tasty manila clams) and drinks, although I heard the rest of the food is very good there.

Have a nice trip!


Edited by zeph74 (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will second the motion for Ubuntu and Meadowood. They were both just so incredible you have to be there to get it. Plus Taylor's Refresher in St. Helena for lunch--I just fell in love with the place-muy casual.

Chef Kostow at Meadowood was fabulous. We were seated on the heated yet open balcony overlooking the golf course for the sunset view over the mountain. I mean that alone was worth the price of admission. Then the food brought home the amazing ambiance. The service was pleasant and impeccable, comfortable. The wine pairing was a delicious treat.

Plus now Chef has a new pastry guy. I hear he is pretty good. Chef actually offered me the job tableside one night. :raz: But they bake the bread throughout service. Meadowood was a rare delicious jewel for us.

You will love it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the great responses and suggestions all!

Any rec's on good food (also looking for awesome mexican, as you cant find that up here in Canada!) in SF?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ubuntu is magnificent and really quite unique. It's vegetarian food that will deeply satisfy even the most avowed carnivore. I've got photos of my meals at Ubuntu on my website : http://teenagechowhound.blogspot.com/search?q=ubuntu

As for SF, totally dizzying array of options! I do know La Taqueria in the Mission is really widely recommended for no-frills Mexican. In general, ambling around the Mission is a good way to alert on tasty Mexican food. If you want something a little different in that neighborhood, I really like Dosa - Southern Indian food done well, not something you get much of state-side.

Hope you have a great time!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If you want something a little different in that neighborhood, I really like Dosa - Southern Indian food done well, not something you get much of state-side.

There is also a brand new branch of Dosa opened on Fillmore, a block north of Geary (right at the edge of Japantown); it is bigger and prettier and generally has no lines that you see at the Mission.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1) For the drive up, you can probably stop off at Sausalito. There used to be a restaurant called Christophe that had an early bird prix fix meal for $17. It was run by a couple from Alsace but I think they recently closed? I was last there about a year ago.

2) Wineries - We went to Opus but you have to book that tour early. On Saturdays, they have a wine tasting class at Merryville that's a lot of fun. They break down the components into different glasses for you to taste and you get a tour as well. For beautiful grounds, Sterling would be a good choice. I didn't go for a tour but I'm a fan of Stags Leap wines as well.

3) Since it's your honeymoon, the other thing you could do is go to Dean and Delucca and pack a picnic basket.

4) For dinner, I went to La Toque and thought it was very mediocre. The food was solid and the service great but the dishes were unoriginal. The atmosphere was lovely though...we had a table by the fireplace. One of my best meals there was actually Julia's Kitchen. It was moderately priced and we had a lovely meal. It seems that they're inconsistent though because reviews reviews have not always been so good. I don't know if they're closing because I heard Copia may be closing? Also, if you're wanting to splurge, French Laundry would be an option.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4)  For dinner, I went to La Toque and thought it was very mediocre.  The food was solid and the service great but the dishes were unoriginal.  The atmosphere was lovely though...we had a table by the fireplace.  One of my best meals there was actually Julia's Kitchen.  It was moderately priced and we had a lovely meal.  It seems that they're inconsistent though because reviews reviews have not always been so good. I don't know if they're closing because I heard Copia may be closing?  Also, if you're wanting to splurge, French Laundry would be an option.

FYI...

1) La Toque is now in the new Westin in Napa near the Wine Train, so the atmosphere is quite different from their former Rutherford location. I agree with you on the food;

2) Copia IS closed..bankruptcy!

3) French Laundry requires reservations be made 2 months to the day prior to dining.


"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."

- Dr. Hannibal Lecter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

French Laundry reservations are pretty easy to come by these days, actually. Especially on weeknights.

If you go to opentable right now, you'll find at least one open reservation for 2 on at least six nights in the next two weeks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
French Laundry reservations are pretty easy to come by these days, actually. Especially on weeknights.

If you go to opentable right now, you'll find at least one open reservation for 2 on at least six nights in the next two weeks.

Yup...you are right! Sign of the times, I guess. Now, the tough table in town is Chiarello's Bottega! More affordable and REALLY good!!


"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."

- Dr. Hannibal Lecter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
French Laundry reservations are pretty easy to come by these days, actually. Especially on weeknights.

If you go to opentable right now, you'll find at least one open reservation for 2 on at least six nights in the next two weeks.

Well, so much for that, now that the media has caught on.

SFGate

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never go to the wine country without a stop at Prager Port Works


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We just spend a wonderful weekend in the wine country and enjoyed meals at The Grill @ Meadowood in St. Helena, Cyrus in Healdsburg (again wonderful, this was our third time here!) Willi's Seafood and Wine Bar in Healdsburg and dinner at Bottega in Yountville. Everywhere was excellent, we stayed at the Inn @ the Plaza in Healdsburg where you could walk to everything from there.

Let me know if you have any questions on any of the places I mentioned! Cyrus has done away with their 3 courses for $65, you now have to order 5 courses for $103/person, I was sad that option was taken away. :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We just spend a wonderful weekend in the wine country and enjoyed meals at The Grill @ Meadowood in St. Helena, Cyrus in Healdsburg (again wonderful, this was our third time here!) Willi's Seafood and Wine Bar in Healdsburg and dinner at Bottega in Yountville.  Everywhere was excellent, we stayed at the Inn @ the Plaza in Healdsburg where you could walk to everything from there.

Let me know if you have any questions on any of the places I mentioned!  Cyrus has done away with their 3 courses for $65, you  now have to order 5 courses for $103/person, I was sad that option was taken away. :(

I am still puzzled how Cyrus was able to get two stars. We had an average (food quality) to lousy (service) dinner there beginning of January. In the weeks before and after we had great meals at Providence, Spago, Hatfields, Aureole, Picasso and all of them were much, much better than what we got at Cyrus. (with Providence as the highlight. Outstannding 15 course meal with service you would expect at a two star restaurant but at the same time not to formal ot unfriendly)


Edited by Honkman (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So the day draws near...and it ends up we will only be in Napa one night, so I would like to make the hotel reservation fairly close to the restaurant of choice...

From the sounds of it, its down to Ubuntu, Providence, FL or Meadowood...hmmm

In terms of wineries...my desire is something where quality of wine comes first, 'tour factor' can be second (although both would be great)!

So many choices...so little time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So the day draws near...and it ends up we will only be in Napa one night, so I would like to make the hotel reservation fairly close to the restaurant of choice...

From the sounds of it, its down to Ubuntu, Providence, FL or Meadowood...hmmm

Ummmm.... Providence is in Los Angeles so that would be quite a haul to the hotel after dinner! :laugh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So many choices...so little time.

Absolutely -- and if you ask a hundred people about where you NEED to go, you'll get a hundred different answers. I just got back from there, and there was plenty that we didn't do, but have on the list for next time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, guess Providence is out...lol.

Meadowood looked nice - but there are no prices...how does it compare to say the FL?

Not to mention that I still have no clue which wineries to go to!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ok, guess Providence is out...lol.

Meadowood looked nice - but there are no prices...how does it compare to say the FL?

Not to mention that I still have no clue which wineries to go to!

Meadowood is very good and all that, but hardly in the same league. Do you have FL reservations? You know they are difficult to get?

Personally, I am an avowed Ubuntu fan, but I do understand some people have the sensibilities that a meal is not complete without meat. Ubuntu is hands-down my favorite restaurant west of the Mississippi at the moment, so I can't praise it highly enough.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ubuntu was very interesting, and may not be for everybody.

When I went last week, the atmosphere was awful. They have very high ceilings; we were sat next to two other tables against the wall, and it was so quiet that I felt like I was listening to everyone else's conversation (and vice-versa). Thank God we didn't choose it for our anniversary. On top of that, it took the waitress 22 minutes to get to us (half-full late on a Wednesday).

As for the food, we tried 5 dishes (including one dessert). The asparagus salad was fine, but light on asparagus; the chocolate mint with fresh peas was unique and outstanding (certainly the highlight). The chickpea stew was also very tasty, and my carrot gnochetti was quite vibrant (yet not bursting with flavor like the peas).

The dessert...well, that was a disaster. I took a chance -- it had beet caviar (not good), geranium soda (unique and interesting) and orange sorbet. The beets were just a strange choice...

Another complaint -- we got shafted on wine. They poured our red wine into white wine glasses. The ironic thing is that I didn't even notice -- we overheard the couple next to us complaining about how poor the pour was. The wine list was a little rich for my blood, too -- not a lot of good price points.

So, it was an interesting experience. The menu changes a lot, so I can see it being hit or miss at times.

Best peas I've ever had :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So the day draws near...and it ends up we will only be in Napa one night, so I would like to make the hotel reservation fairly close to the restaurant of choice...

From the sounds of it, its down to Ubuntu, Providence, FL or Meadowood...hmmm

In terms of wineries...my desire is something where quality of wine comes first, 'tour factor' can be second (although both would be great)!

So many choices...so little time.

If you're looking for that one *special* meal, French Laundry is what I'd recommend. I've never been to Ubuntu or Meadowood. From what I've heard, Meadowood is along the same lines as TFL (food/price), but is not as expensive or nearly as good. Everyone I've spoken with about Ubuntu has loved it. As it was mentioned earlier, I have to also recommend Cyrus. I've been twice, as recently as a month ago. The food to me was fantastic, not groundbreaking or overly exciting, but just superbly executed. The service both times has been some of the best I've experienced. Compared to other 2 stars in CA that I've been to (Manresa, Providence), it was different but certainly on par with quality. Have fun!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I 3rd or 4th TFL for "that one special meal". If you can't hook a res, all the other suggestions are great. Just be sure if you choose Ubuntu that you're OK with all vegetables. You didn't mention Auberge du Soleil or Terra, two standouts in my book for the classic white tablecloth experience.

For wineries, I'd recommend calling Shafer Vineyards to see if you can get in. Their Hillside Select is outstanding, and their Red Shoulder Ranch Chard is unbelievable. It's a sit-down tasting, usually at a table for 8.

2 other standouts that are off the beaten path are Swanson Vineyards and Staglin Family Vineyards. You will pay for all of these, but they are WELL worth it. These experiences are head and shoulders above anything you can find driving up and down Hwy 29. I HIGHLY recommend paying the freight and giving one of them a try.

Enjoy your stay!


"A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."

- Dr. Hannibal Lecter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...