Wine & Travel

Snooth User: girjums

Sonoma/Napa tips?

Posted by girjums, May 31, 2010.

Hi All,

My wife and I are packing up our 7 month old daughter and taking a trip out to Napa/Sonoma. We are staying in Sonoma for 2 full days/3 nights. Does anyone have any recommendations of excellent activities, wineries and restaurants? If any of you have been with babies, and can give us some pointers, I would also greatly appreciate it.

Thanks much!



Reply by dmcker, May 31, 2010.

There are a slew of past threads in the Forum that I think you'd find useful. Use the 'Search the Forum' box to the right, and you'll find them. Here're a a couple of good ones to start with:

Going to Napa

 Going to Sonoma

After you peruse them don't hesitate to ask any questions of whatever detail, and you'll be sure to get a response here. What kind of wines do you and your wife like? Are you at all familiar with the area, or is this your first time there? And when are you going?

Logistics are a major issue, even without a small child to factor in. It's a big area and there are hundreds of wineries. I'd strongly suggest you only try to cherry pick and visit a few places in Sonoma this time around, since you're staying in Sonoma town. Trying to cover large parts of Sonoma, much less including the other side of the Mayacamas Range in Napa Valley, will likely lead to more frustration and fatigue than fun....


Reply by UpRiverPrincess, May 31, 2010.

It's an absolutely lovely town, both are. As for traveling with children, I think your daughter will be in ah of the shapes, sounds, tinkling of glasses and such. Sterling has a tram, she may not like that. There is also a wine tasting train, she may or may not like the noise and rustle of that. Lots of shops with more colors and shapes to fascisnate her. Enjoy! Get lots of pictures. I did the grand canyon with my girl when she was little, if you're using a back pack, be careful not to knock anything over, lol.

Reply by outthere, Jun 1, 2010.

Eats? Don't miss Cafe La Haye. It's about 4 doors off the main town square heading east on Napa St. Great Cali food and a smallish but exceptional wine list of local offerings in a nice atmosphere. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Reply by Mark Angelillo, Jun 1, 2010.

If you haven't seen it yet, check out Snooth's Sonoma Trip Planner

It's a great way to get some ideas.

Reply by dmcker, Jun 1, 2010.

Now let's be clear here, Mark. You mean Visa's trip planner... ;-)

Reply by zufrieden, Jun 1, 2010.

Always the tipping point...

Reply by outthere, Jun 1, 2010.

I took a look at the Sonoma Trip Planner and was surprised by how many quality wineries are omitted. West County is not represented well at all. Just on a short stretch of Westside Rd it lists Hop Kiln but leaves out Arista, Williams Selyem, Rochioli to name a few. Up on the hill along Gravenstein Hwy they left out a bunch like Dutton Goldfield, Kistler, Merry Edwards, Graton Ridge, Emeritus, Iron Horse etc..

Is it a VISA thing?

Reply by John Andrews, Jun 2, 2010.

@Outthere ... depends on the sponsor on the Sonoma side and which wineries belong to that group.  In Sonoma there are a couple of different groups that wineries belong too:

  • Sonoma Vintners and Growers
  • Russian River Valley Wine Growers
  • Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers
  • Carneros Wine Alliance 

It appears that Sonoma Vintners and Growers appears to be the sponsor for the trip planner.  They are also the key sponsor for Passport Sonoma and the Wine Weekend in September. 

Reply by cristinabrown, Jun 2, 2010.

This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are unanimous and
needs to be appreciated by everyone.


Furniture Packages Turkey

Reply by StevenBabb, Jun 2, 2010.

everyone on here has some really great ideas.... if i could offer just a couple more...

i think it's important to remember that its a vacation, and although it's fun to taste at as many wineries as possible, these two valley's are huge, and with a baby, the drive time and the in and out of the car can be challenging to say the least....

with that said, down town sonoma (the plaza or the "square") and down town napa are great for breaking out the stroller and spending the afternoon walking around, exploring, eating, and tasting...

in sonoma, you are surounded by history... the sonoma mission.... general vallejo's house.... and there are some tasting rooms (the cellar door) that will allow you to visit multiple wineries in one location! and there are plenty of places to stay within walking distance.... no driving means better tasting.... and numerous restaurants... the possiblities are endless...

in napa, needless to say down town has been hit a little bit by the recession... BUT, that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of places to check out, and with a free parking garage in the heart of down town, you can again put that stroller to good use.... there's the oxbow market wich has an old general store feel... plenty of restaurants... lots of wine... and while you're there, you absolutely have to check out BACKROOM WINES.... it's a complete wine store.... check there website for any tastings that might be on the calender.... Dan, the owner/educator/all around great wine guide, is extremely knowledgeable and helpfull with any questions you might have.... and they will even ship (if your area allows) your wine home...

SO... i hope i've been of some help.... i know i wrote a novel.... thanks for sticking with me... and remember to spend some time down town in these two wonderful places.... you'll be glad you did.....

i'm available with any questions you might have... i grew up in napa and i'm pretty familiar with the area....

Reply by VegasOenophile, Jun 2, 2010.

The Fig Cafe in Glen Ellen on the Sonoma side is always a good place with great food at reasonable prices.  What kinds of varietals are you and the wife into so we can make specific suggestions for you?

Reply by dmcker, Jun 2, 2010.

Now if you really want to go decadent you could bid on this auction lot for charity, which includes some of the oldest, classic Napa wines I've seen in many years,

1976 Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc
1961 Heitz Pinot Noir
1947 Louis Martini Private Reserve Cabernet
1956 Inglenook Cabernet
1966 Robert Mondavi Cabernet (first vintage ever made!)
1978 Stag's Leap CASK 23 Cabernet Sauvignon
1974 Heitz Angelica

as well as a very delicious and informative looking dinner in St. Helena with a number of Napa experts... ;-)

Reply by Andrew46, Jun 6, 2010.

Check out the CIA while you are in the area.

Reply by InWineTruth, Jun 29, 2010.

Just South of Calistoga on Hwy. 29 lies Sattui's winery castle, Castello di Amerosa, an architectural rather than a wine achievement, but it is close to the aerial gondola ride to Sterling Vineyards.  Between Calistoga & Santa Rosa lies Safari West on Petrified Forest Road, a trip to Africa in Wine Country. Heading towards the coast, just past the production tours of Korbel on River Road, near Guernville, lies Armstrong Woods, a State Preserve of old growth redwoods that feels like hallowed ground.  And, at the edge of the continent on Hwy. 1, you can find oyster farms, like Hog Island or Drakes Bay Oyster Farms.  There's nothing quite like shucking a bag of fresh mollusks, with freshly baked artisan loaf and a glass of Russian River Sauvignon Blanc, overlooking the Pacific. That's Livin'!

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