Finally have my first trip to Napa booked for this late winter / early spring. Actually going with a rather large group for work (some customers and some coworkers). All fun, no business. I believe it is everyone's first time out there. There will be 13 of us.
So, I have several questions that I would very much appreciate any input you all want to offer. I will say that while it has been some time since my last post, I have off and on done research on this trip as I've almost taken it several times in years past. So, I hope I am not asking silly repetitive stuff here that has been asked 50 times before (or maybe I am, if so, sorry), like where do I have to go and where should I eat. I think I have all that down. I may end with one rookie question though.
Here is what I am looking for though:
1) My single biggest question is with a group this large and logistics. What is the best way get from SFO to our hotel? And then how about hopping from winery to winery? Again, 13 with my group so if we rent cars, we need like 3+ cars and an equal amount of designated drivers (sad face).
2) I currently have reservations at the Napa Andaz, which I could cancel if needed. Is that in a good spot, or it is better to opt for a place like Rancho Caymus or something a little further north and closer to many of the wineries. Kind of ties into the logistics above, as there are many walkable places from Rancho and we wont get killed by Uber if we choose to go that route.
3) While I am trying to treat everyone to a great time, I do need to be operating within a budget, which I feel I am going to totally destroy. That said, do many of the restaurants offer corkage if we want to bring in bottles from the days haul? Is there any type of rule of thumb I should use with corkage (i.e. the quality of the bottle I take in there). Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to take a $15 bottle into a nice restaurant and do a corkage, but I also dont need to buy 6 $300 bottles at dinner each night, if avoidable.
4) Along the budget lines of #3. I feel I know the obvious "gotta eat here" restaurants, but what are your favorite holes in the wall where maybe I can save a buck or two? We have probably 9 meals to eat (including breakfast) and I know my boss would appreciate it if every one of them didn't include a jaw dropper of a receipt with it.
5) As for the wineries, I have reached out to several of the places I want to hit. I am a little concerned that our group size seems beyond capacity for some of the online published tours and tastings at some of my target places. Where are some of your favorite places that we can just stop in and have a glass of wine and maybe do some self guided walks around the grounds without a reservation? While some places seem all about the quaintness and small group reservations, I gotta figure some of these places can just pack in the people and that may be a little more our speed with our group size.
6) Last (here is my rookie question), I know Napa is all about the Cabernet, but we have a few Pinot Noir fans in the group. What is your single favorite Napa stop for Pinot Noir, or should we invest one of our days and cross over to Sonoma?
If you are still reading at this point, thank you. If you click the reply link and type up some stuff, REALLY, thank you! If you offer some really standout things for me to take into account, I'll probably send you a PM inviting you to join us at one of the wineries for a glass or two on me (considering you're local). Otherwise, I'll just try to think really hard to put some good vibes out there in the stratosphere for you.