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Low- to Mid-priced wineries of Napa & Sonoma


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Hey everybody!

I'm planning a trip towards the end of October to Napa & Sonoma and I thought I'd come see if i could get some opinions here as I'm making my arrangements. I lurk these boards frequently and really enjoy reading notes and updates from the regulars. I know that the whole "where should I go" topic has been done before, but seasons change, wineries open and close, wax and wane, and I feel like it's a good thing to rehash now and again.

This time, I'm interested in affordable wineries in the region. Wineries that sell affordable wines, rather. I've been to Napa and Sonoma quite a few times and have visited plenty of vineyards over the years and have always loved the region, but I'm trying to make this visit my most well-planned (I'm generally a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants guy) and I'd like to visit some of the area's more out-of-the-way, lesser-known vineyards. While I'm at it, I'd like to buy some wines that I like, which is something I'm ill-suited to afford, especially when I find myself at a place whose wines start at $75/bottle.

Anyway, I've kept most of my notes (written right on the tasting cards, usually) from the places I've been before and as soon as I'm home I'll probably pick a couple of those to re-visit (Casa Nuestra is definitely one, and Bouchaine another). Otherwise, it's three days in the region without a lot of structure at the moment. Anything you guys want to recommend where the wines are interesting and inexpensive automatically gets put at the top of the list. I'll be researching on and off (as my internet connection allows) while I'm trying to finish up a whirlwind working tour of South America.

Thanks in advance for any advice that you guys have, and I look forward to sharing my thoughts and notes with you.

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My favorite are Carneros wines -- especially Schug Carneros. I still have some reds Mr. Schug signed for me a number of years back. I like his chard - your typical california over-oaked chard.

Of course Ravenswood, Vicki Sebastiani's Viansa is worth going to just for the views, and they have some nice wines. Or did. (Disclaimer: I have not been in Sonoma in 10 years but a quick google shows they are still around).

There was a little tasting room which features wines by this guy Kaz -- He had a Lenoir -- Probably the deepest red I ever drank -- 9 acres of some old vines oh yuumm. Best with a slow-roasted beef of some type. Yum! Here he is: http://www.kazwinery.com/

Just found this on Facebook -- makes me want to take a road trip!


And I am a Gloria Ferrer Carneros Brut fan as well.

Have a good time, and as I recall, be careful driving on Sunday afternoons, the amateurs have been drinking and driving all day and are heading sleepily home :)



Edited by rlped (log)

Oregon Crêpe Company,LLC

have crêpe will travel

...pies too!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for the input, Richard. I'm putting Kaz on my list, as well as a couple of things I've read on the Facebook group - that's a great resource.

I, too, love the Carneros for both the location and for the pinot, and will be heading back there to visit Bouchaine again and probably one or two others that I've overlooked on past visits. I'll be there Sunday through Wednesday, so I'm looking forward to a slower-paced midweek trip this time, too.

I'm going to try to be good/better about tasting notes and impressions, too, because I want to remember the wines better for longer. I'm also taking my SLR, so maybe I'll get a good picture or two, too.

Thanks again for your thoughts.

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Unfortunately, you're going during the zenith of tourist season. Bargain hunting isn't going to be easy.

I'm partial to Napa valley, so my info is going to be skewed in that direction.

First, educate yourself. You can't hit 20 wineries each day. I use http://www.napavintners.com/wineries/ as a checklist. "Free" and "inexpensive" tastings exist, but they're few and far between. Many wineries charge upwards of $25 for five one-ounce pours. If that's out of your range, don't waste your time finding a parking spot.

I almost ALWAYS stick with the smaller producers -- You're not going to find any deals at Mondavi, and the clerk at the counter isn't allowed to knock 30% off a case just because he/she feels like giving you a break, no matter how nice you are.

My favorite places are the family-run operations where a son/daughter/cousin is pouring the wine, the vintner comes to the tasting room regularly, and they'll cut you a deal on wine by the case.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I suggest Cline Cellars in Carneros, though I haven't been up there in years. But I enjoyed my last visit with a friend. The place is charming, and the wine is a good value (or at least it has been when I've tasted & purchased it). I suggest that you check out the Small Berry Mourvedre and the Marsanne Roussanne.


When out-of-towners visit, I also mention the Matos Cheese Factory for an old world experience.


It's near the Gravenstein highway. Harvest must be over by now, but there must still be some gravenstein apples knocking around at the farms there. I was last in the area in August, & bought some apples, which deliciously scented my car all the way home.

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Cline & Cheese - excellent! I'm adding them to the list. Thanks!

And I've been to the area in the fall before - I just consider myself lucky to be able to get there during the week rather than exclusively over the weekend.

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I've always enjoyed Ridge vineyards, which is in Sonoma County. They do have bottles over for $60+, but also have a few for $20-40 range. Each time I've been I bought a few bottles and they have given me the tasting I did ($25) for free.

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Have you left for your trip to Napa-Sonoma yet? If not, here's a winery in Napa I've just learned about, at a recent cooking demo & wine tasting.

Tres Sabores: http://www.tressabores.com/

We tasted a new release, 2009 Sauvignon Blanc (Farina Vineyard, Sonoma Mountain), and two Zinfindels, the 2007 Estate Zinfindel and 2008 "Por que No" Zinfindel Blend. The zins didn't do much for me, but I'm not much of a zinfindel fan anyway. Other people at the demo liked the zins. I really liked the sauvignon blanc, so much so that I asked to buy a bottle to take home with me (& did). It's more mellow than other sauvignon blancs I've tried, & it would be a fine dinner wine. The price is right ($22/ bottle), so this wine is going on my short list of good value wines.

I haven't visited the winery myself, so I don't know about tasting room arrangements. I suggest you contact the winery before you go.

good luck on your trip!

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