Wine & Travel

Snooth User: sambuca

Napa / Sonoma Trip Summary...

Posted by sambuca, Jul 31, 2010.

Thanks to everyone for your ideas, recommedations, and tips.  We had a great two plus day trip into wine country!  We can not wait to return.  We did not hit any of the Huge, well known producers, as we wanted to stay away from traffic, as it was a weekend during High Season.  Here's a synopsis of our travels:

Day 1:

Chateau Montelena:  We had to visit after watching bottle shock.  The estate is beautiful!  We're glad to visit, but now that we've been there once, we don't need to go back.  We shared a $20 tasting, including the Chardonnay, which was buttery and delicious.  Best wine of the tasting was definitely the top end Cab, but at $130, we had to pass. 

Rombauer:  Not sure where I encountered Rombauer, either here on Snooth, or through a google search.  We went there because they do not charge to have a picnic on their grounds, and it looked beautiful, plus their wines were well reviewed.  We were not disappointed.  We shared a $10 tasting, and they give you the glasses you drink out of, which made it home safely in our checked luggage.  This was our favorite Chardonnay of the trip, very well balanced, nice buttery finish.  My wife loved the Zin, extremely fruit forward, smooth finish, good balance.  We had a great picnic next to their cave entrance, overlooking St. Helena.  Would absolutely recommend if you're in the area, looking for a picnic. 

Honig: We had a 1:00 appointment for a tasting - $10 each.  Honig was very quaint and quiet.  It was unique because our tasting was a 1 - on - 1 experience with one of their employees.  She sat with us for each off the 5 tastes, poured and explained each one.  It was a nice experience, it was not our favorite wine, but pretty good none-the-less. 

Frogs Leap: This is a $20 tour and tasting.  They are all organic, also have an extensive produce garden, we picked strawberries and peaches and ate them off the plant, all delicious.  The tour starts in their Winery with a tasting, and they guide you throughout their gardens / facilities, pouring a new wine every 10 minutes or so, tasting as you walk.  The wine was all decent, but we were not impressed enough to walk out the door with any bottles.  Good tour, fun people, would recommend, but we do not need to return. 

Old World Inn B & B: Very comfortable, very welcoming, good breakfasts, great service.  Our first night the Inn had Bouchaine Vineyards for a tasting.  We sat in the living room with 10 of the other Inn Guests to sample 3 of Bouchaine's wines.  A great way to end the day of tastings.  We ate dinner at La Alegria in downtown Napa, which was fantastic.  Definitely recommend the wild mushroom ravioli. 

Day 2:

Domaine Carneros:  Stunning in every aspect.  Perfectly sculpted hedges, maticulous landscaping, breathtaking views.  We shared a $15 sparkling wine sampler.  Great tasting for a 10 am start.  Our only complaint about Domaine Carneros was their waiters, or should I say salesmen.  We were having flashbacks of time share presentations in Mexico...okay, maybe it wasn't that bad, but they were the most Sales oriented establishment we visited.  Good bubbly, beautiful setting, definitely stop in if you're driving by.

Hendry:  We do not have enough good things to say about Hendry.  This was easily our best tour / tasting / educational experience.  Shedule a tour in advance and plan at LEAST 3 hours.  We started at 11 and left at 2:30.  Beautiful vineyard, wonderful wine, we tasted 13 wines in total, and they do not charge for their experience.  These guys are nuclear physicists, and know how to make good wine.  We walked out with 14 bottles to bring home, which was by far our biggest purchase of the trip.  This place is a small, family run winery, they only produce 15,000 cases / year, and I believe it is all estate grown wine.  Our tour guide was Jeff, a partner at Hendry, but George Hendry also gives tours / tastings, and we met him after we were done.  George actually was the wine gopher, he packaged and delivered all of our wine to us. 

Tin Barn: Best Pinot for my taste.  Very earthy, loved the boquet.  This was a different experience, which we wanted.  They do not grow their grapes, they find the grapes they want, and make the wine.  We shared a $6 tasting, which is refunded with purchase of wine.  Amy poured our tasting, she was great!  We also met the proprietor / wine maker, whom was hard at work on a Saturday.  Very good wine, great experience.  It's so funny to go from a beautiful country estate at Hendry, to an industrial park at Tin Barn...but that was part of the fun.  It was already after 4 by this time on Saturday, so we needed a closely located tasting.  Amy recommended Westwood, located in Sonoma Square.  Tin Barn is also very small, producing 3000 cases annually.

Westwood: Another very different and unique experience.  Westwood is secluded, through a small alley / hall way off of Sonoma Square.  We found it with only a little trouble!  This is a living room type setting, we walked in to join a group of co-workers sitting with John - the owner and winemaker, and took a seat.  Westwood specializes in Pinot Noir, but also makes a Syrah, and a blend.  We were lucky that John had opened a 2000 Pinot that he was sharing with the group of his spouses co-workers, and he shared with us.  The 2000 was incredible!  But all of his wines were very good.  The $10 tasting fee was refunded with a $50 purchase.  Great experience, John was a great guy to talk with, very knowledgeable, and has lots of great experiences and stories to share.  Would absolutely recommend if you're in the square, looking for a solid tasting and good conversation.  Westwood only produces 2400 cases annually. 

We had an appetizer at La Salette, a Portuguese restaurant off the Square.  This was a bit on the pricey side for us, but the Scallops were outstanding!  We then went to Taste of Himalayas for our main entree.  This was good, but a little bland.

Day 3: We had to hit one more vineyard before heading back to the Sacto Airport.  We chose Artesa.  Artesa was another beautiful estate.  Magnificent fountains, spectacular views, just a breathtaking vineyard.  We got lucky and ran into one of our fellow Old World Inn guests for a tasting, the lucky part was the fact that she was a member of their wine club, and we were able to partake in their free tasting.  We sampled nearly 15 wines.  Our favorites were their Tempranillo and their Cab Franc.  I would recommend this place for a first timer for sure. 

9 Wineries in 2 Plus days!  We never drove on HWY 29, so traffic was manageable.  Wonderful weekend.  Thanks again Snoothers! 

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Reply by outthere, Jul 31, 2010.

Thanks for the great reviews. Sounds like you had the time of your life. Let us know when you plan on returning!


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