Hello! I will be spending some time in Napa and Sonoma. Aside from the most popular wineries to visit, do you have any suggestion on some "behind the scenes" wineries to hit? I will be staying in Healdsburg Aug 16-18th, then Sonoma Aug 18-20, and then in St Helena Aug 20-24th. I appreciate any pointers! Thanks in advance!
Check out some of these places, some may be well known and others never heard of but certainly worth a look. Viansa and Ferrer are within 1/2 mile of each other.
http://www.viansa.com/ a beautiful location with excellent wine and food and a favorite of ours, particularly when they have pizza and wine club parties.
http://www.gloriaferrer.com/ another gorgeous view from the winery and very good bubbly.
http://www.korbel.com/ageverification.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fdefault.aspx immaculate grounds and not only champagne.
http://www.korbel.com/ageverification.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fdefault.aspx another place with beautiful grounds and wine, worth the many turns in the road to find it.
http://www.grgich.com/ outstanding wine.
Have a splendid time and enjoy the entire area. Don't forget to spend some time in the Sonoma Plaza sampling some of the tasty cheese at http://www.sonomacheesefactory.com/
In addition to wine tasting, you may want to try some of Napa & Sonoma's awesome olive oils:
The Olive Oil Source (www.oliveoilsource.com) is a great place to start your education about how olives are grown and pressed, along with many other producers in the Napa, Sonoma region—as well as throughout California.
5935 Red Hill Road, Petaluma, 866.617.6779
Located in the rolling hills of Sonoma County, the ranch offers tours of their orchards, then discuss the horticulture of growing olive trees, certified organic practices, and harvest techniques. The tour also includes a guided tour of the olive milling room, a sensory evaluation, tasting, and discussion of the culinary uses of olive oil. Call ahead for reservations. $20 per person.
1775 Whitehall Lane, St. Helena, 707.963.4555.
At Long Meadow Ranch--America's only combined winery and olive oil producer—they make two outstanding organic extra virgin olive oils: Prato Lungo, their estate oil from Napa Valley's oldest olive orchards and Napa Valley Select, a blend of organic olive oils crushed and blended by the family. Saturdays through October, enjoy a guided walk through the unique rammed-earth winery, explore the caves, and visit the olive oil press. Taste our current releases of wines and olive oils. $35 per person.
Break from the ordinary with an intimate olive mill tour and sensory exploration of Round Pond artisan olive oils and red wine vinegars. Learn about olive cultivation, harvest and olive oil production at our estate mill before immersing yourself in a guided tasting of our fresh olive oils and red wine vinegar blends. Journey through the elements of tasting and sample the oils and vinegars with gourmet bread, cheese and fresh organic produce. Allow 1½ hours for this unique tour and tasting. $20 per person. 24 hour notice required for rescheduling or cancellations.
14301 Arnold Drive #15, Glen Ellen, 707-939-8900
The Olive Press was created in 1995 by two passionate olive growers and producers who were inspired after touring olive pressing cooperatives of the Mediterranean. Committed to making only the finest Award Winning California Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the Tasting Room and gift store in Glen Ellen is dedicated to “everything olive”. Open daily to visitors.
526 Broadway, Sonoma, 707.938.0300
Wine country’s ‘other crop’–olives–are found in L’Olivier’s collection of premium olive oils from all around the globe, alongside a colorful display of olive varietals in many tastes, shapes, and colors. While you dip your bread into one of the selections of the day, a consultation with owner Elie Maghames will inform you about the region each came from and the unique characteristics of each type of olive oil. His own label contains a delicious, pale oil from a blend of Mission and Sevilliano olives. Look for the popular line of citrus flavored oils in orange and lemon. In addition, L’Olivier offers hand-painted pottery, antique furnishings, lovely tablecloths, cookbooks, sauces, and vinegars.
1766 Westside Road, Healdsburg, 707-431-8000
Here you will find Dry Creek Estate extra virgin olive oil (from trees imported from Tuscany); Pollo Rosso red wine; and hand-made castille soap (85 percent olive oil), among other treasures of this passionate family. It's also a great spot to picnic, visit the willow room, or just wander the fields. Open dailyfor olive tastings and wine tastings, 11am-5pm (only closed on Tuesdays/Wednesdays, January-March).
25200 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, 800.995.4740
Along with olive oil, taste through a huge variety of sauces, spreads, jams and condiments made for the winery. Though it can get busy on the weekends, it’s a stop worth making. The grounds are planted with grapes and olive trees. They have started processing the olives for their California olive oil.
You may want to include a visit to the Culinary Institute of America, housed in the former Christian Brother's winery, and dine there. Check out thier web site and inquire about reservations there, they tend to be very busy most times of the year.
Some of our favorites are Grgich Hills and Sterling. Almost all charge for tasting, and tasting too many can lead to driving problems, so consider a tour or private hire vehicle if you're doing a bunch. Traffic on weekends is also quite heavy along the narrow roads.
If you want additional information send me a direct message.
Thanks for asking
Hey how about you, jerrycoin, and the forum's other oenophiles and wine experts check this out and help educate beer schlubs like myself.
wonder if you get points
while you're at it, get me some pillows too please
First, what an excellent trip - you'll have an excellent time. If you're staying in Healdsburg, a great trip you can stretch into a VERY full day (if not more) is just head all the way down Dry Creek Road. There are some excellent wineries on this road. Ferrari Cerrano (sp?) has simply gorgeous grounds you can walk around. They have two tasting rooms, one upstairs and one downstairs. The nicer one is downstairs and I'd highly suggest springing a few extra bucks to head down there. At the end of Dry Creek Road is Sbragia winery. Grab a bottle and sit out on their rooftop patio overlooking the entire valley. You'll be very glad you did. Just breathtaking - and the wine didn't hurt either! Finally, if you're looking for a few minute break from all of the wine tasting, just past Sbragia is the dam that you can head to the top of. Park at the top and hike just a few hundred feet to a large wooden bridge and overlook. You'll see for miles in every direction out over the entire valley. We loved doing this and would have traded it for an extra hour of wine tasting any day everyday.
While in Sonoma, one winery that is quite large and not exactly what you asked for is Kunde. I know it's a large name that you can get at home, but the facilities, the philosophy on growing, their story, and their staff make this one of our favorite stops without question. They even have mountaintop tasting, a tour of their mountain side cellar, and all kinds of opportunities to really get involved in more than just the tasting. They really want you to get into the whole process and experience on winemaking. Again, just our opinion, but we loved it.
Finally, just have fun. Everyone has their opinions of "must do!" wineries, but in the end you'll only drive yourself mad trying to overdo it. Relax, have fun, and find your own favorites!
My wife and I went last May and had a fantastic stay. We want to go back, and probably would have this year, but we did Europe for 2 weeks instead.
If you happen to have a credit card that is a Visa Signature card, you get a ton of free tastings in Sonoma (Visa Signature Winery Guide) just by showing your card.
There is also a great phone app that has a lot of 2 for 1 tastings, or upgrades to reserve tastings. It's called econcierge.
As far as the wineries, Domaine Carneros is a great place to start for sparkling wine with some great pastry options to puchase. While on the southside of Napa, check out Artesa winery for sure.
There are just too many great options to choose from, but we really enjoyed Trinchero, sequoiagrove.com is one of our favorites, Stag's Leap, Turnbull, and the list goes on and on.
While over in Sonoma, definitely check out BR Cohn, as indypharmer stated, check out Ferrari-Cerrano (and yes, check out downstairs), and Silver Oaks in Sonoma was really beautiful. There aren't a lot of food choices near Silver Oaks or Ferrari, but if you need some good food or picnic supplies to soak up the morning wine, check out Dry Creek General Store (drycreekgeneralstore1881.com).
Any more specific questions, just let me know.
Enjoy your trip.
Fantastic info from all - thank you
richard - great tip on the Visa Signature - that's a keeper, terrific
mdphillips - olive oil would be a fascinating twist and I'm a big Cali Olive Oil fan/supporter
anadyr - when you wrote you had been in both iterations of the CIA, I had other thoughts! (I used to recruit at CIA for Marriott - but I won't divulge which one).
Dull as it might seem in comparison to all the cool stuff above, I enjoyed (among several others, like anadyr said with a designated driver) the Mumm Winery in Napa off the Silverado Trail. Learned a lot as well, believe it or not.
We will serve no wine (unless it's open) before it's time, as someone Welles I think. And here's the official visitor site for NAPA.
On a more personal note, I used to go to Napa a few times per year, but recently the commercialization of the AVA and the emergence of other AVA's in the west have dimmed my enthusiasm. The Paso Robles AVA is among, if not the best place, to find smaller, more guest friendly wineries: You might be served by the winemaker in the tasting room. Just a personal opinion--and the Oregon pinots especially in Yamhill County, are great too and more local.
Careful now or you'll get me in trouble with anadyr's pals down the road at Langley. I used to recruit future chefs at the Hyde Park CIA for Marriott. Of course back then, beef bourguignon and cordon bleu were considered delicacies; dry ice was used for shipping frozen foods (as opposed to cooking with it) and you carted produce up ramps (as opposed to eating them) .
I know what you mean about "Anadyr", he had two "Men in Black", show up at my house recently to see if I was an "Alien"! After a few calls to the IRS, they actually believed I was a "Liberal", and I didn't get "Audited"!
My MRI information was "Checked out", and all ended well!
All is well, as I await my next Marriott stay!
I just got a gift card yesterday from I guess Social Media folks maybe due to how they didn't handle my fiasco in Cayman (that could be a new movie)!!! Guess I can't use the card at any wineries.
My son works for Treasury Wine Estates, which owns Stag's Leap, Chateau St. Jean, Beringer, Etude, and St. Clement, among others. He lives in Napa, so we have greatly increased our knowledge of the wineries there as a result of visits with him and our DIL.
I would highly recommend the following hidden gems that are not well-known, but have excellent wines and very down to earth tasting experiences:
All of these are smaller wineries with exceptionally high quality. Enjoy!
If you like Zinfandel (and I do) and are able to find these places you won't go wrong. Of course CA zins tend to be higher in alcohol and very strong for some tastes, but if you can find a single vineyard, estate bottled one, you'll not commit one of the seven deadly Zins, ad the label says.
Dear ERC, I forgot that you have not heard of the double secret plutonium lifetime elite fax machine that came with the credentials this year. It is of course a great addition to the other benefits (which cannot be mentioned except in the company of other DSLPE's in a secure location, with adequate security. I understand that aspiring member Jerrcoin also has a receiver and has gotten his bottle, but due to state wine and liquor beverage laws, it was empty.
anadyr, we have no laws as such in the part of Texas which I live, and I can get any receiver needed with a phone call or two! Send them.
I used to spend a lot of times up in The Woodlands! Love it!
There was a wonderful Italian place to dine, and if it is still there would love to go back. Will have to look it up! Had dinner once at (I think), The Woodlands Country Club, and it was magnificent.
Thanks for bringing back such great memories!
I'm going to take a shot in the dark and guess you at at Amerigo's http://amerigos.com/ if it was more than oh five years back. It is a great spot for sure but now meeting up with quite a bit of competition yet still holding their own. The Country Club could have been either Glass Menagari or Spartillo's. The Glass is only open now for special days such as Mother's Day, Easter, etc., Spartillo's closed and is now operated as The Royal Mile Grille named after the famous Edinburgh, Scotland, establishment and a place I spend way too much time after golf.
Speaking of Sonoma, today is the road course race at Infineon Raceway, great track in a great location with a most good brunch prior at Sam's Anchor Cafe http://samscafe.com/ in Tiburon, CA. Incredible view of the "City by the Bay"!!
Yes, it was Amerigo's!
Forgot the name, so thank-you so much for bringing it to my attention. Yes, it was also more than five years ago!
Time flies, when you are having fun!
Will look forward to having a refreshment with a loved one and you someday near the Woodlands!
If you are a Cab drinker, don't miss Peju, Nickel and Nickel (need reservation), Far Niente (need reservation), Plumpjack, Silver Oak, Stags Leap, St. Supery and Corley and about anything in Rutherford or Oakville. The good news is that there are so many fine wines and wineries of every varietal that you are guaranteed to be pleased in both Napa and Sonoma. In addition to great wines, there are anumber of outstanding restaurants there and our favorites are Brix in Napa, Auberge u Soleil, French Laundry (tough to reserve) and others.
If you mlike Champagne, try to visit Mumm, Domain Chandon as they are wondeful.
Have a great trip.