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Tigertown in ATL
LSU Fan
Georgia foothills
Member since Sep 2009
22637 posts

Best wineries to visit in Sonoma/Napa
Going out there in September.

I'm not a wine connoisseur, so I am really looking for the best experiences, not necessarily the best wine.

I'm going to post this on the Food board too. They have a different perspective.


AbitaFan08
LSU Fan
Boston, MA
Member since Apr 2008
19160 posts
 Online 

re: Best wineries to visit in Sonoma/Napa
Will also post this on the FDB.

Restaurants:

Bouchon for lunch or brunch
Oenotri for a casual dinner...great pastas and pizzas

Wineries:

Best experience we had the whole time was at Stags' Leap (plural Stags not singular Stag's Leap... 2 different spots). Splurge for the 90 minute estate tasting. Fascinating history, get to try like 5 different wines, the wines are all excellent which is a nice bonus. Nicest grounds I visited and they loved our group so much they opened up a 1992 syrah for us to try. It was incredible.

If going to Sonoma, I loved Nicholson Ranch and Petroni Vineyards (California wine with Italian roots... in a cave on the mountainside).

Also in Sonoma: Buena Vista, which is now owned by some french guy. The bubbles room there is ridiculous. Amazing wines including a true champagne with grapes from Champagne, France. bizarre setup with lots of leopards and chandeliers. Sounds weird, but it was so cool because it was such a different experience

Skip Duckhorn, too overpopulated, but go to Paraduxx.
This post was edited on 8/9 at 10:21 am


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CoachChappy
LSU Fan
Boudin Capitol of the World
Member since May 2013
24285 posts

re: Best wineries to visit in Sonoma/Napa
See my reply on the F&D


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TexasTiger39
Member since Mar 2009
3618 posts

re: Best wineries to visit in Sonoma/Napa
Amici
Etude
Opus One is cool, but expensive (brain child of two of the most well-known wine makers and they produce only one wine a year, hence the name).
Peju
Chateau Montelena (featured in Bottle Shock show on Netflix)
Chandon (sparkling wine; great as a morning stop)
Alpha Omega (a modern style winery)
Schramsberg has a cool tour through caves and is educational, but their wine isn't that great IMO

Also, there is like 250 wineries in the Napa valley alone, so you are likely to get very differing responses.
This post was edited on 8/9 at 10:09 am


Tigertown in ATL
LSU Fan
Georgia foothills
Member since Sep 2009
22637 posts

re: Best wineries to visit in Sonoma/Napa
quote:

250 wineries in the Napa valley alone,


Basically a list of the ones people have been to.



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LSUSPARKY621
LSU Fan
Dream of Californication
Member since Mar 2007
1328 posts

re: Best wineries to visit in Sonoma/Napa
I prefer Sonoma Valley because it's less populated than Napa. If this is your first time and you're looking more for first-time experience and less on the wine quality, look into the following (not to say bad wine, but you don't necessarily want to drop loads of cash on Opus One or Nickel & Nickel).

Sonoma:
La Crema
Francis Ford Coppola
Silver Oak
Ferrari-Carano
Ledson

Napa:
Castello di Amoroso
Peju
Hendry
Mondavi
or just take the wine train out of Napa
Also, definitely hit the Oxbow Public Market for lunch
This post was edited on 8/9 at 12:36 pm


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midlothianlsu
LSU Fan
Midlothian, Texas
Member since Oct 2009
322 posts

re: Best wineries to visit in Sonoma/Napa
(no message)
This post was edited on 8/9 at 12:50 pm


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Redfish2010
Alabama Fan
TITLE TOWN USA
Member since Jul 2007
14886 posts

re: Best wineries to visit in Sonoma/Napa
Pride was my favorite. Last tour of the day so the wine was flowing.

Schramsberg was cool and the cave thing was different.

Sterling was nice and has some fantastic views.

Miners was a nice family operated joint that didn’t require reservations.

Darioush was like being in Egypt. I was bad off by the time i got there so my memory is foggy.

Farmstead has a bad arse lunch too


nvcowboyfan
LSU Fan
James Turner Street, Birmingham,UK
Member since Nov 2007
2436 posts

re: Best wineries to visit in Sonoma/Napa
chandon is fun
I also liked the tasting experience at Sattui and Trefethen but by far my favorite is Rombauer


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specchaser
LSU Fan
lafayette
Member since Feb 2008
2009 posts

re: Best wineries to visit in Sonoma/Napa
Schramsberg was really cool


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KwoodTiger
LSU Fan
Member since Aug 2011
360 posts
 Online 

re: Best wineries to visit in Sonoma/Napa
Taking a step back, a couple of BIG differences between Napa and Sonoma.

As someone previously posted, Sonoma much more laid back for a variety of reasons including wineries are more spread out. So, you’ll be doing more driving/riding.

Also, Sonoma has a central town square with nice restaurants and such. Napa not as quaint.

As far as varietals, you kind of have to like Pinot Noir/Chardonnay if you go to Sonoma. If you prefer Cab, you might be disappointed. That said, if you or your group prefer Cab, Napa is the place.

Others already posted good wineries. A fun one in Sonoma that I haven’t seen posted yet is Hanzell. Also, in Napa, another fun one is Del Dotto.

Enjoy.


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FinleyStreet
Georgia Fan
Nashville
Member since Aug 2011
6072 posts

re: Best wineries to visit in Sonoma/Napa
Been going out there for several years. Here are my favorites from all the trips:

Sonoma Side:
Christopher Creek - Book the last tasting and watch the sun go down. It's one of my favorite views in all of Sonoma. They have some really good italian varietals. The Dolcetto is my favorite. Tastings are also only $15. Hands down best bang for your buck.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/8zM204R.jpg


Skipstone Ranch - This one is on the higher end. They serve a light hors d'euvre and seat you on their patio overlooking their beautiful property. They have my favorite white in all of the Napa/Sonoma. This was definitely my favorite wine experience in either Napa or Sonoma. It's remote. It's private. They walk you all around the property. If you leave without buying a bottle, you are a strong person.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/0jL6Lv9.jpg



Nicholson Ranch - This place has a cheaper price tag, but is still great. Everything is organic. The guy that showed us around was sort of a ridiculous hipster, but their wines were all really good. This is my favorite Syrah in all of Napa/Sonoma.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/q685L19.jpg


Lasseter - This one is also on the higher end. They give you a private tasting and tour of the property. They also walk you through how winemaking works. Each wine has a different cheese/but pairing. Best Cab on the Sonoma side. Best Rose I've ever had.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/pvRun73.jpg



Napa

O'Brien - One of the first wineries you hit in the heart of Napa. Super convenient if you are staying in downtown Napa. All of their stuff is great. There is a waiting list to get into their wine club. My favorite Merlot and Cabs on the Napa side. Best overall winery for everything, on either side. Tastings are super laid back - out on the patio with some cheeses. They are on the pricier side, but a lot of them are over in Napa.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/OwjFLw4.jpg



Venge - Best Chardonnay in Napa. Right off the Silverado Trail, Venge has a beautiful view and a laid back tasting although it is on the pricier side. Added bonus: They have a wine puppy.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/PtefsaM.jpg


David Fulton - Tastings on the lower end. The guy who did our tasting was very entertaining. They don't trellis their vines. Instead, they look like adorable little trees. They have a really tasty Petit Sirah.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/Mr7Ky7h.jpg


Pride Mountain - The cheapest tasting is $30 which is the one I did and it was awesome. They take you around the property and talk to you a little about the vines on the property. Great view. Knowledgeable people. Kind of a bitch to get to because it's on top of a mountain. Probably the best wine experience on the Napa side that I've been to.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/S5iLD0B.jpg


Charbay Distillery - if you are looking for something different, Charbay has wine + aperitifs and various other distilled beverages. It is about 5 minutes away from Pride. Their Syrah is super dark - unlike any other I've had. I liked it. Also enjoyed their green tea aperitif.

In general - smaller wineries are usually better. If you can drink it at your house, skip it. The Napa wine train is for chumps. I thought Schramsberg was really overpriced for what you get, but I'm not that much into champagne to begin with. The wine caves there were cool, but lots of places have those - granted, not all of them were made by chinese laborers, but still.
This post was edited on 8/11 at 9:59 am


Atttaboy
LSU Fan
Atlanta, GA
Member since Aug 2014
188 posts

re: Best wineries to visit in Sonoma/Napa
It’s not for everyone, but we did the Napa Wine Train with 4 wineries and a 4-course meal on the train. It’s great because there’s no driving, great food, all tours and tastings are set-up. Outside of that, I have to agree that the views from Sterling are pretty awesome.


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DownSouthJukin
Florida Fan
@TheUnRealFeleipeFranks
Member since Jan 2014
17339 posts

re: Best wineries to visit in Sonoma/Napa
Hands down, Frog’s Leap is a must in Napa.


dallastiger55
LSU Fan
Jennings, LA
Member since Jan 2010
19604 posts

re: Best wineries to visit in Sonoma/Napa
For Sonoma, some lesser known ones that I enjoyed were Bezinger and St Francis.


WacoTiger
LSU Fan
Waco, Texas
Member since Nov 2003
2505 posts

re: Best wineries to visit in Sonoma/Napa
Quintessa (a little pricey, but one of the best wines I've ever tasted). Great grounds and tour.

Darioush (don't need an appointment, just go to the wine bar there). Great grounds.

Lewis Cellars - outstanding wine.

Silver Oak - vertical wine tastings - outstanding.

Opus One - enough said

Peter Michael - may not be able to get in, but they make over 10 premier wines. Very pricey.

Schramsberg (get experience).

Duckhorn (very good wine)

Hall (outstanding wine)

Stag's Leap Winery (good wine)

Caymus (good wine)

It all depends upon your palate and budget. Plan and call ahead to make appointments at the top ones. Good ones will charge $50 - $75 per person for tastings. Most are worth the money in my opinion.
This post was edited on 8/12 at 7:34 pm


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VABuckeye
Ohio State Fan
Oak Hill, VA
Member since Dec 2007
25668 posts

re: Best wineries to visit in Sonoma/Napa
Loved David Fulton. Great Petit Syrah. Sadly, I’m pretty sure it was sold and they’re tearing out the vines to plant Cabernet.


CaptainJ47
Hawaii Fan
Gonzales
Member since Nov 2007
5682 posts

re: Best wineries to visit in Sonoma/Napa
My brother in law said Caldwell was the best one they did.


wahoocs
LSU Fan
Lafayette, LA
Member since Nov 2004
14148 posts
 Online 

re: Best wineries to visit in Sonoma/Napa
Del Dotto
Frank'sFamily
Peju
ChateauMonteleone
Dario Sattui Castle


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tigerbaiter1033
LSU Fan
Member since Nov 2011
1703 posts

re: Best wineries to visit in Sonoma/Napa
Fontanella Winery in Napa


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