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narrowing down our choices

Ocean Grove, New...
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narrowing down our choices
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There are 4 adults heading to Ca. We are arriving late afternoon Tuesday Sept 7. We have two full days and will head up the coast on Friday morning. We have received many recommendations and are having difficulty pairing down our list. We mostly drink reds, cab, pinot, not zins.

We are staying downtown Sonoma. We don't mind driving if the scenery is nice ( we have a designated driver who isn't a wine guy) but we don't want to spend our days in traffic. The California wines that we know and like include Kendall Jackson, La Crema, Rodney Strong and Sterling.

We hope to hit Walt wines in town on the day we check in. Then I need to decide on the next two days.

I have been given these recommendations for Somoma:

In Healdsburg: Simi,Jordan,Thomas George,Rodney Strong,Arista,Muscardini, J, Limerick

In Santa Rosa: Kendall Jackson

In Windsor: La Crema, Carlisle

In Sebastopol: Merry Edwards,Lynmar

I also have been told we may be closer to wineries in Napa:

In Rutherford :Caymus,Elizabeth Spencer,Cakebread,

In Napa: Plumpjack, Hess and Sequoia Grove

Obviously, we won't have time to hit them all. Does it make sense to do one day in Napa and one day starting in Healdsburg and working our way back. I can't imagine we can reasonably hit more than 3 tastings in one day.

I love to drink wine especially in a beautiful setting but I am curious as to whether there is anything specific that should steer us to one winery/tasting over another? I have heard some suggestion to steer clear of the big names and discover the small family vineyards but I also see some wisdom in going to a place that you know you like their wines!

Your help will be greatly appreciated.

9 replies to this topic
1. Re: narrowing down our choices

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Santa Cruz...
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If you are staying in downtown Sonoma, how about Sonoma Valley wines? You are all over the map. Sonoma County is very large, and you have also included Napa.

Fremont, California
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one day in napa and one day in sonoma makes sense. 3 to 4 wineries are good; do make reservations.

for Sonoma - I would do Jordan, Rodney Strong, Arista and in Santa Rosa Kendall Jackson

For Napa: cakebread, pumpjack, Hess, and your choice for the 4th

Enjoy.

Ocean Grove, New...
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We thought we would pick an area and choose three for a day. As I said we don’t mind driving but don’t want to sit in traffic. Do you have suggestions for the valley?

Ocean Grove, New...
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Since we don’t know the area, it is hard to tell what driving times will be like. Is the town of Napa closer to Sonoma than Healdsburg?

I know September is a busy season, will be having traffic issues?

Raleigh, North...
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Nan, there is a publication called Wine Country This Week which has a good map, and as I recall includes driving times too. You can view it on the computer, and pick up free copies when you get to the area. Since you are staying in Sonoma-town, make your first stop the Visitors Bureau ( I presume its open since travelers are coming back these days) and get actual maps and tasting passes and advice from the staffers. They will be able to confirm drive times for you.

Having made a BUNCH of 2-day trips over the years, I would suggest that you spend a day concentrating on Sonoma Valley ( since it is very Pinot-oriented), a day in the mid-county ( where you can get a mix of Cabs and Pinots) and then make a stop or 2 on the way out of the county ...perhaps a visit to Hawkes and lunch at Jimtown Store, for example, or a picnic at DeLorimier... something that includes a meal so you are not too toasted to travel comfortably.

I would not use the limited time to venture over to Napa unless you have a driving desire to go to a particular winery, just because Sonoma County has so much to offer. The only exception , for me, might be a visit to Nicholson Ranch, which is actually in Napa County, but at the border of Sonoma and Napa. There are nice views from there and the Pinots are very interesting.

Another very good Pinot producer is Roessler- they were partners with the Halls before they parted ways and the Halls created WALT. I am not a pinot drinker usually, but theirs were good enough to make us buy several bottles!

Merry Edwards is a good choice; especially if you don't really "get" the effect of the soil and conditions on wines, a flight there will really help you see what the whole "terroir" thing is about as you get several very different wines made by the same winemaker but from different vineyards.

You might consider Schug as well- very different from Merry Edwards or Walt.

Ocean Grove, New...
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Thanks Amy. Very helpful!

Raleigh, North...
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I'm glad to help, Nan.

By the way, I forgot to mention in the previous post that we really have enjoyed visiting Rodney Strong in the past, not only because we enjoy the wines ( do splurge on the reserve tasting, by the way) but also because of the interesting self-guided tour that is a very good encapsulated introduction/explanation of winemaking. Our last visit there was a good many years ago- 7 or so I'd guess- but it was right at harvest so we got to watch the grapes getting pushed down and talked to the guys who were doing the work. It was fun and interesting, and at our own pace, which was nice.

Phoenix, Arizona
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For award-winning Pinot Noirs (usually 4-6 single vineyard offerings, and then a Russian River cuvée) in Santa Rosa, look into Benovia: https://www.benoviawinery.com/

They also do great Chards, a Rosé of Pinot Noir, a sparkler, which might be a Blanc de Blanc, or Blanc de Noir, depending on the year, often a lovely Grenache, and a sublime Zin, though you are opposed to that varietal.

Travel safely, and enjoy greatly,

Hunt

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