Next month I'll be visiting Napa and Sonoma for the first time. I've been reading a lot online about wineries to visit. I wanted to hear what you think! What are some of your favorite places to visit in the areas? Are there any certain wines you'd recommend sampling or purchasing? I'm very excited about the trip, looking forward to hearing some feedback from all of you!
There are lots of fantastic places to visit. https://napavintners.com/itineraries/tips.asp is a great place to start as it offers up contact info and distances etc. You didn't mention how long you planned on visiting...try to limit your scheduled tastings and allow for time to enjoy the scenery as well as hidden spots. I would be remiss if I didn't say, reach out to your distributor partners, as the wineries on your current list might be willing to take you behind the ropes for an unforgettable experience.
I would absolutely recommend Inglenook Winery for your first visit to Napa. The property is beautiful and the wines are memorable. If you get a chance, you should stop by The Charter Oak for lunch or dinner. It is located right there in St. Helena- unbelievable experience.
Grab tacos at La Luna Market. Grab breakfast at Café Sarafornia.
I loved visiting the Cade winery on Howell Mountain. I'm sure Matt Stamp would appreciate a visit to Compline. Heitz was also a nice visit, especially since the might be one of the last, if not the only, tasting room to not charge for tastings.
There are so many great wineries I would recommend hitting the classics first. Yes they are big brands, but they help shape the valley. Also, make sure you visit Oakville grocer and hit Ana's for a pallet cleanser.
Freemont Dinner for breakfast, Pancha's for a "right of passage" drink in Yountville and definitely check out Compline. Matt and Ryan are doing great things over there and have some great food and wine. My suggestion for wineries is to do one or two "big names" for the history and to pay homage and then go to the off the beaten path ones. There's a lot of small producers doing some great things. You can always stop by Hestan and I'll pour you some wine as well.
Brunch at Archetype in St. Helena is always a solid win!
I know neither are secrets, but...
Doing a full on tour of Domain Chandon is really fun and informative for the sparkling lover in all of us. Fantastic tasting of 6 (if I remember correctly) of their wines at the end. I think it's reservation only and maybe 20-30 bucks a head, but worth it.
Heitz Cellars. It's free, and when I was there last spring, they were pouring 10+ year old bottles of their single vineyard stuff in the tasting room. Really a great way to taste vineyard to vineyard under the same label that won't crush your wallet.
For food (still not a secret), go to Bouchon. Lunch for two will be $100-150 (but could be done cheaper should you so desire). The service is friendly and unpretentious, and the food is, well, perfect.
Have fun! And don't forget not to drink and drive- the wine catches up to your BAC quickly, and you won't be spitting any of this stuff!