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Napa Valley


pastramionrye
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I am going to SF area and want to spend one day/night up in Napa. Anyone know of some of the best wineries to tour around (nice scenery; not super tourist; friendly)?

Anyone know of a place to get a good meal (can't afford FL, but was thinking of hitting up Buchon)?

thank you.

jonathan

Also: while in SF i am going to eat one fine dining meal at Quince; but anyon e have any suggestions for cheaper eats. I love all types of food, and i am a professional cook. just a few things to know about me.

PPS: I will also be in LA earlier in the trip and heard there is a great deli there that rivals the best in NYC for pastrami, but i cant remember the name. would love to go there.

Nothing quite like a meal with my beautiful wife.

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PPS: I will also be in LA earlier in the trip and heard there is a great deli there that rivals the best in NYC for pastrami, but i cant remember the name. would love to go there.

Langer's in MacArthur Park. I haven't tried NY Pastrami, but I love this place!

You can get some fake IDs and crack while you're there. :wink:

Edited by hhlodesign (log)
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I am going to SF area and want to spend one day/night up in Napa. Anyone know of some of the best wineries to tour around (nice scenery; not super tourist; friendly)?

Well, let me start with which winery you should avoid. DO NOT go to BV (Beaulieu Vineyard)!!!!!! When I took some out of town guests there, the people working at their Reserved Room were so incredibly rude. One woman literally stood in front of us with her hands stretched out to block us from going to the bar. She made sure she told us that it's $25 for 5 tasting there and the $10 for 5 tasting is at THE OTHER room. We walked out and went somewhere else.

Anyway, there are several wineries that are nice. Sterling stands out as one of my favorite because you have to take a tram up the hill to the winery. Robert Mondavi has a wonderful and open space which is perfect for roaming around and have a picnic at. Beringer also has a very nice space you can roam around for free. Coppola was one of my favorite until the recent change, which require you to pay to enter the premise, which includes a tour. The problem I have is that you can no longer just go to the wine room to taste and buy wine for free. Domaine Carneros is great if you want to tour a sparkling wine place. It actually offers free tours if you're interested, unlike many other wineries.

AAA actually produce a wineries map/guide. You can pick one up for free at the AAA if you're a member.

La Toque in Napa Velley is one of my very favorite restaurant. It's not cheap, but not as expensive as FL. It will cost $100 pp for a 5 course meal, but definitely worth the price. I haven't been to FL, but have read from people who have been to both and actually prefer La Toque.

As for restaurants in SF, it's hard to recommend without knowing more of what you're looking for. It's just that there are so many choices. Maybe more specific on the price and type of food? Even by neighborhood.

Anyway, have fun when you're here! :raz:

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Anyone know of some of the best wineries to tour around (nice scenery; not super tourist; friendly)?

If you want non-touristy wineries, I would steer away from most of annachan's suggestions (sorry, Anna!). I would go over to the Silverado Trail, which runs on the east side of Napa Valley from Napa up to Calistoga. Click this link for a map and listing of wineries. Silverado Vineyards has great views; Cuvaison has a nice picnic area; Miner Family is always fun and has excellent wine. You really can't go wrong, and you'll find it much less crowded than anything on Hwy 29. There are also some wineries on the trail that still don't charge for tasting, or only charge $5.00 instead of $10.00. The website has some coupons for complimentary tastings.

Anyone know of a place to get a good meal (can't afford FL, but was thinking of hitting up Buchon)?

As for the meal, please read my review of La Toque here. If you'd like something less pricey and formal, your idea of Bouchon is a good one. Also, Bistro Jeanty for classic French country cuisine; Redd in Yountville for a more creative, modern & up-scale experience; Mustards Grill is a perennial favorite with locals and tourists alike. If you'd like something in Napa itself, Pilar and Celadon are both very good.

If you'd like other suggestions, I can make further specific recommendations, but I don't want to over-load you.

Hope these help!

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

- Dr. Hannibal Lecter

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Recently did a tour at Far Niente, a winery that only opened itself up to the public a few years ago. The grounds and buildings are beautiful and the tasting and tour were really wonderful and absolutely not touristy (although a bit pricey ($40) and reservations are required). One of the highlights of the trip.

Also really enjoyed Opus One, Stag's Leap and Sinskey.

Other than the French Laundry, which completely rocked, the food at Terra was excellent and I would highly recommend it. Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, not so much. Bad.

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I did a Napa tour on a Saturday a couple of weeks ago with my brother in law. We had great weather and a great time. We went to the smaller boutique wineries and to the Mumm's winery for champagne (er, sparkling wine) tasting.

The boutique wineries we visted and liked were Miner Family Wines on the Silverado Trail and Joseph Phelps up the same road. Mumms was also great and is between Miner Family and Joseph Phelps. We also tasted wines at Merryvale on Hwy 29 just below St. Helena.

You can get a nice map of Napa wineries for $2 in the bookstore just off the main in St. Helena. We ate at Bouchon Bistro in Yountville. It was a good meal, $28 for a steak with fries. Bouchon Bakery is right next to it. The little chocolate bouchons are excellent.

Our last tasting was at Cliff Ledge, in Yountville between the Silverado trail and Hwy 29. Goosecross, Trefethen, and Sinskey wineries were also on our list but we didn't make it to them.

You generally pay $10 or $15 to taste 6 wines. Phelps charges $20. Mumms was $10 for three ice cold flutes of champagne.

"Yo, I want one of those!"

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Cheap SF - try North Beach where there are lots of little unassuming places (Bocce and Steps of Rome are two I like). Or just wander into Molinari's and have them make a killer sandwich that you can eat in the park. If you can get to Khan Toke (it's a pricey cab ride from just about anywhere most people stay) it hasn't changed in the 25 years I've known about it. I like breakfasts at O&Co. in the Marina Dist (I'm not Rigo-averse :wink:). Oh and one friend of mine who often had visitors with shallow pockets used to swear by ChaChaCha in The Haight. Perhaps a local could confirm or refute whether it's still good and a good value.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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The things I enjoyed most on my day trip to Napa (other than FL) were lunch at Don Giovanni and the almond croissant at Bouchon Bakery. The pizza was the best I've ever had, and the pasta is even tastier! I've had probably at least 8 different baked goods (not including breads) at Bouchon, and the almond croissant is the best. The bouchons that they're known for were a bit underwhelming for me.

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the best way to avoid tasting room fees is to either consult the concierge at the hotel you are staying at (many have passes to free tastings at boutique wineries) or find out about smaller "by appointment only" wineries where you may just be tasting with the owner or winemaker and where they rarely charge a fee!

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the best way to avoid tasting room fees is to either consult the concierge at the hotel you are staying at (many have passes to free tastings at boutique wineries) or find out about smaller "by appointment only" wineries where you may just be tasting with the owner or winemaker and where they rarely charge a fee!

Absolutely STELLAR advice!!

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

- Dr. Hannibal Lecter

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if we decided to go to sonoma, are there places (restaurants and wineries we must try?

i like the suggestions of the oakville grocery, market, bouchon and terra.

ty all.

Nothing quite like a meal with my beautiful wife.

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if we decided to go to sonoma, are there places (restaurants and wineries we must try?

...

There are lots of good suggestions on previous threads in the CA forum re: both Sonoma and Napa restaurants and wineries. For restaurants in Sonoma, look at the thread on restaurants in the town of Sonoma and in the town of Healdsburg.

Sonoma is pretty spread out geographically, so recommendations would really go hand in hand with what area of Sonoma you would be in. Typically, I wouldn't advise going to Napa and Sonoma in the same day unless you wanted to visit Carneros wineries which are located in southern Napa and Sonoma. If you do have another day or two, the town of Sonoma and Healdsburg are both quite charming with a number of restaurants and many wineries nearby.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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if we decided to go to sonoma, are there places (restaurants and wineries we must try?

i like the suggestions of the oakville grocery, market, bouchon and terra.

ty all.

Wineries: Matanzas Creek is gorgeous, and they have an expansive lavendar farm on-site, as well. Say "hi" to the llamas while you're there. We like to stop in at Landmark Winery and play some Bocce for free in their courtyard. Ledson is a bit over-the-top with the castle and the picnic grounds, but is fun for first-timers.

Food: The town of Glen Ellen has great dining adventures, as does the town square in Sonoma. The place everyone talks about lately is El Dorado Kitchen, but it's received mixed reviews. The Girl & the Fig is not to be missed. We also love Cafe La Haye.

(edited to add links)

Edited by lizard (log)
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Best meal I had was at La Haye in Sonoma--small and excellent!! Beringer is great and I loved Silver Oak.

I'd spend more time in the valleys. Overall the food is better.

Edited by Bill Miller (log)

Cooking is chemistry, baking is alchemy.

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Food: The town of Glen Ellen has great dining adventures,

I agree with Liz on Glen Ellen. One spot she omitted that we've always liked is Wolf House at the Jack London Inn.

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

- Dr. Hannibal Lecter

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If you can make the time, stop in a Copia. www.copia.org They have a tasting daily sponsored by a different winery each week. A daily food program. Exhibits- I believe it's American Diners right now. There is a minimal charge for some items (I believe even admission has been underwritten this month and is $5.00), but the gardens, the food demonstration, scensation stations, exhibits, and wine tasting make it a worthwhile stop.

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If you want non-touristy wineries, I would steer away from most of annachan's suggestions (sorry, Anna!). I would go over to the Silverado Trail, which runs on the east side of Napa Valley from Napa up to Calistoga. Click this link for a map and listing of wineries. Silverado Vineyards has great views; Cuvaison has a nice picnic area; Miner Family is always fun and has excellent wine. You really can't go wrong, and you'll find it much less crowded than anything on Hwy 29.

Agreed! We love the Silverado Trail wineries. Some of the most expressive Napa Valley reds seem to be grown there. Bg fruit and soft tannins are the hallmark of wineries over there and they seem to be less traveled than the main strip wineries. Our favorites include:

Pina (tiny tiny production, 100% Howell Mountain Cab and that's it.)

Baldacci (very small production, quiet and non-busy)

Darioush (opulent and expensive)

Robert Sinskey (the nicest wineroom employees in the valley)

Shafer (good luck getting in)

Paraduxx (Duckhorn's Zinfandel blend label, gorgeous modern tasting room)

William Harrison (small and family owned, long Napa history)

Other favorites if you're traveling around are Havens (Yountville, delicious merlot and syrah), Atalon, Cardinale (expensive but lush blended reds), and Ehlers. Bouchon, to me, is the must-eat place. If I could only do one meal in the area there is no doubt that's what I would choose. The thought of boudin blanc with potatoes and prunes makes me long to be there this very instant.

We're heading back up again in December, one of our favorite times to go. It's quiet and cold and not very busy at all.

Edited by SiseFromm (log)

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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pride mountain winery has what you are looking for in a tasting experience (scenery, friendly, good wine, picnic areas, non touristy)

yes bouchon is good

try terra in st helena as an alternative or martini house

stop by model bakery for a quick and inexpensive lunch (disclaimer: i work there) you can drop by at around midnight if you want to see the ovens

have fun. the bay area is a wonderful place to experience.

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I dug our experience at Pride. Their mountain location definitely makes it an "off the beaten path" kind of winery. They seem eager also to show you around the grounds, including a picnic spot that offers a fantastic view of the Russian River Valley (I believe). It's been awhile, so I might be off on my geography. The Merlot they produced in 1999 was one of the most well reviewed and subsequently one of the Valley's most famous of the vintage. Some select shops still stock it amazingly enough (Hi Time had a bottle on their library shelf earlier this week). Pride has a couple of real gems, including the 2002 Cabernet we bought which smelled distincly of dark sugar/molasses. When we were there they were actually expanding and building a new tasting room which I presume is finished by now.

Edited by SiseFromm (log)

R. Jason Coulston

jason@popcling.com

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When we were there they were actually expanding and building a new tasting room which I presume is finished by now.

No...not yet!. We were up there 2 weeks ago, and construction is still on-going. I think weather has been a big hold-up this year.

This is truly a boutique winery experience, but I'm wondering if pastramionrye would have the time to make the trek up Spring Mountain, if they only have one day in the valley. Also, I don't think they are open on weekends, and I don't know if pastramionrye will be in the valley during the week or the weekend. Their '03 Merlot is absolutely wonderful. They're sold out of the 750's at the winery, but the have magnums available The 750's can still be found in retail shops.

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

- Dr. Hannibal Lecter

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