Some friends and I are taking a trip to Napa the week of the 6th (forced furlough from work) and would like to hit at least 2 wineries a day for four days after cycling in the morning. I have been to Napa on several occasions, but I am always looking for input as I don't stay that connected to who is making good wines these days. We are looking to do a more organized sit down (private) tasting and we are serious buyers of good wine. We enjoy both Chardonnay, Cabs and Pinots. Up for consideration are the following so far:
Larkmead, Chateau Boswell, Conn Valley, Kapscandy, Shafer.

Feedback is much appreciated. Also looking for 2 recommendations on the Sonoma side and 2 in the Russian River.
Original Post
My wife and I just got back from Napa this week. It was our first time going there, so we asked for recommendations on which places to visit and got some sound advice for the most part. From your list, we did Larkmead and Shafer. I would recommend both. We were also recommended Boswell, but were not able to fit it into our schedule.

Like you, we tried to get as many private/library tastings as we could. Two that were surprisingly good were Chat Montelena and Beringer. We did private library tastings at both and were impressed.

At Beringer they poured 05 Cab Sauv Napa, 05 Rancho del Oso, 05 single vineyard Lampyridae and then the 05, 96 and 97 Private reserve cabs. For $35 a head, we thought it was good value.

At Montelena they poured: 06 Chard, 03 Cab franc, 97 merlot and then the 99, 01 and 02 Estate cabs. I think the charge was $40 each.

Other places we enjoyed were Pride, Caymus, Cliff Lede, David Arthur, and Rudd.

The day we went up to Pride, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and views were incredible. It was a small group (my wife and I plus 2 others) and we toured the caves and walked through the vineyard and took in the views while tasting 5 of their wines. It was pretty laid back and causal and there’s no charge.

Caymus was a sit down tasting with 8 total people in the room. The host pouring the wines was very knowledgeable and interesting. I could have sat there for hours listening to him. They poured 03 sauv blanc, 05 Zin, 06 cab sauv and 06 SS. I think it was $20 a head.

At Cliff Lede we did the Poetry tasting which is a private tasting. They poured 04, 05 and 06 Poetry cabs. We did a short tour of the caves, winery, and vineyards then sat in a cool room over looking the vineyards for the tastings. The winery is cool with rock and roll music playing in the background and cool art. The Poetry wines are excellent. The only thing I didn’t like was the cost. At $70 per head, we felt it was a little steep.

David Arther was a fun tasting. David, along with his 2 daughters are great hosts and offer a causal and fun experience. We tasted 5 or 6 wines over the course of 2+ hours. By the end it was just me and my wife and David and his daughters shooting the shit for an hour sipping on his wines. There's no charge for the tasting.

Rudd has a very cool property. The landscaping around the winery is beautiful and the caves are cool too. The host was very knowledgeable. The tour takes you through the gardens, vineyard and caves. Then you go for a sit down tasting of 07 sauv blanc, 06 Bacigalupi chard, 05 crossroads blend and 05 estate proprietary red. I think the tasting/tour was around $50 per head.

Some of the places we did not like: Del Dotto, Joseph Phelps

Del Dotto was recommended to us...Im not sure why. I guess if you want to go somewhere and get hammered its the place to do it. You walk in and you feel like your in Las Vegas and the decor is the tackiest "Italian" theme Ive ever seen. They charge $50 a head for the cave "tour", and by tour they mean walk into the cave 150 feet, and then turn around and walk back. And by cave, they mean there above ground tunnels they built, and then dumped dirt over top so it seems like your underground, and then add air conditioning. As you walk down the tunnel, the unknowledgeable tour guide pours you around 10 different wines. By the time I had given the nose some thought on a particular wine, the rest of the group had empty glasses and the tour guide was moving on to the next wine. I didn’t finish any of the 10 or so glasses I was given and I still had a buzz when the tour was over. For $50, it was a joke.

We just the did the basic tasting at Phelps, which includes the Insignia and 3-4 other wines. The way they made it sound over the phone, it was going to be romantic; sitting on the patio, over looking the vineyard, sipping on some wine. But the overall experience is lame. There are about 20 people on this patio, with 4 hosts all just pouring wines for everyone. We had 3 different hosts talk to us about the various wines as they poured. Interestingly enough many of the comments they made contradicted what the other host said. For $20 a head it wasn’t too bad I guess, but dont go looking for a total experience here. If you want to try Insignia, then it’s worth while to do.
quote:
Originally posted by godx:
My wife and I just got back from Napa this week. It was our first time going there, so we asked for recommendations on which places to visit and got some sound advice for the most part. From your list, we did Larkmead and Shafer. I would recommend both. We were also recommended Boswell, but were not able to fit it into our schedule.

Like you, we tried to get as many private/library tastings as we could. Two that were surprisingly good were Chat Montelena and Beringer. We did private library tastings at both and were impressed.

At Beringer they poured 05 Cab Sauv Napa, 05 Rancho del Oso, 05 single vineyard Lampyridae and then the 05, 96 and 97 Private reserve cabs. For $35 a head, we thought it was good value.

At Montelena they poured: 06 Chard, 03 Cab franc, 97 merlot and then the 99, 01 and 02 Estate cabs. I think the charge was $40 each.

Other places we enjoyed were Pride, Caymus, Cliff Lede, David Arthur, and Rudd.

The day we went up to Pride, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and views were incredible. It was a small group (my wife and I plus 2 others) and we toured the caves and walked through the vineyard and took in the views while tasting 5 of their wines. It was pretty laid back and causal and there’s no charge.

Caymus was a sit down tasting with 8 total people in the room. The host pouring the wines was very knowledgeable and interesting. I could have sat there for hours listening to him. They poured 03 sauv blanc, 05 Zin, 06 cab sauv and 06 SS. I think it was $20 a head.

At Cliff Lede we did the Poetry tasting which is a private tasting. They poured 04, 05 and 06 Poetry cabs. We did a short tour of the caves, winery, and vineyards then sat in a cool room over looking the vineyards for the tastings. The winery is cool with rock and roll music playing in the background and cool art. The Poetry wines are excellent. The only thing I didn’t like was the cost. At $70 per head, we felt it was a little steep.

David Arther was a fun tasting. David, along with his 2 daughters are great hosts and offer a causal and fun experience. We tasted 5 or 6 wines over the course of 2+ hours. By the end it was just me and my wife and David and his daughters shooting the shit for an hour sipping on his wines. There's no charge for the tasting.

Rudd has a very cool property. The landscaping around the winery is beautiful and the caves are cool too. The host was very knowledgeable. The tour takes you through the gardens, vineyard and caves. Then you go for a sit down tasting of 07 sauv blanc, 06 Bacigalupi chard, 05 crossroads blend and 05 estate proprietary red. I think the tasting/tour was around $50 per head.

Some of the places we did not like: Del Dotto, Joseph Phelps

Del Dotto was recommended to us...Im not sure why. I guess if you want to go somewhere and get hammered its the place to do it. You walk in and you feel like your in Las Vegas and the decor is the tackiest "Italian" theme Ive ever seen. They charge $50 a head for the cave "tour", and by tour they mean walk into the cave 150 feet, and then turn around and walk back. And by cave, they mean there above ground tunnels they built, and then dumped dirt over top so it seems like your underground, and then add air conditioning. As you walk down the tunnel, the unknowledgeable tour guide pours you around 10 different wines. By the time I had given the nose some thought on a particular wine, the rest of the group had empty glasses and the tour guide was moving on to the next wine. I didn’t finish any of the 10 or so glasses I was given and I still had a buzz when the tour was over. For $50, it was a joke.

We just the did the basic tasting at Phelps, which includes the Insignia and 3-4 other wines. The way they made it sound over the phone, it was going to be romantic; sitting on the patio, over looking the vineyard, sipping on some wine. But the overall experience is lame. There are about 20 people on this patio, with 4 hosts all just pouring wines for everyone. We had 3 different hosts talk to us about the various wines as they poured. Interestingly enough many of the comments they made contradicted what the other host said. For $20 a head it wasn’t too bad I guess, but dont go looking for a total experience here. If you want to try Insignia, then it’s worth while to do.


Some good recommendations above, but I don't agree with the negatives regarding Del Dotto. I had a tasting there (no tour) and found the people great fun and the wines outstanding. If you don't like this type of decor be sure to stay away from Darioush.

Nickel & Nickel gives a great tour and tasting. You need to call in advance but I think its well worth it.

I've gone on a tour and tasting at Rudd and that too was great. The give you a real insight into the property and how they make their wines.

A couple of lesser known wineries I'd recommend include Black Stallion (Silverado Trail) and Miner.

Lastly if you want to see something unique try Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga. The wine is decent but the winery (a replica of an Italian castle) is remarkable.
quote:
Originally posted by Dick Tree:
Some good recommendations above, but I don't agree with the negatives regarding Del Dotto. I had a tasting there (no tour) and found the people great fun and the wines outstanding. If you don't like this type of decor be sure to stay away from Darioush.

I dont know how anyone could evaluate a wine with LOUD music blasting and so many people in that main area/lobby. Even inside the "caves" you could hear the music, and there were at least 3 other "tours" going on at the same time. As far as we could tell, and the people we spoke to, its a place that people go to get hammered. Other wineries called it the 'Party Palace' and 'Del Blado'. Had the tour been free, or $25 a head it wouldnt have been so bad...but $50 each for what we got was a joke. To each his own.

We did do Darioush, based on another recommendation. While the decor is just as tacky as Del Dotto, the tour is actually a tour, the host was knowledgeable, and after the tour, you go to a sit down tasting with various cheeses and 6 wines. After that sit down tasting (in a private room within the caves), we went upstairs to another room where the host poured a few other wines to try. It was very good.
I would avoid Nickel & Nickel. Their prices are high like it's big brother, Far Niente.

In February, I wasn't as impressed as I usually am with Darioush. The people are nice, the wines are losing quality. Their Pinot was quite nice, however.
Some that I would recommend are:

1. Chateau Montelena - as you can see I am not the first one to suggest this winery in this thread.

2. Domaine Carneros - while their specialty is sparkling wines(and they make superb ones by the way), they give a great tour. I know you did not mention this type of wine, but this is definitely worth a visit and tour.

3. Ladera - Anne and Pat Stottesbury give a warm and unique tour and have some excellent wines.

4. Philip Togni - if you like old world styled wines, this is the place. The tour takes a little while but it is different and educational.

5. Reverie on Diamond Mountain. - Real neat tour, and sometimes a bit comedic as well, you can't go wrong here and the wines are excellent and underrated as well.



If you go to Kapcsandy, let me know how it goes, I am very interested in going there this year, I am on their mailing list.
If you plan on going to Spring Mountain I highly recommend you visit Behrens family winery. We just got back today from the winery, picking up our Drinkward Peschon and sitting down for a tasting. It was one of the best napa experiences we've had. Beautiful views, the host, Robin, was fantastic and the ability to taste wine made from four different winemakers across 3 different vintages is unbeatable IMO.

Also, the 06 drinkward peschon was fantastic, if you have the ability to buy this wine I highly recommend it, especially based on how wonderful the 02 is showing right now.
quote:
Originally posted by PetiteSyrahFan:
Some that I would recommend are:

1. Chateau Montelena - as you can see I am not the first one to suggest this winery in this thread.

2. Domaine Carneros - while their specialty is sparkling wines(and they make superb ones by the way), they give a great tour. I know you did not mention this type of wine, but this is definitely worth a visit and tour.

3. Ladera - Anne and Pat Stottesbury give a warm and unique tour and have some excellent wines.

4. Philip Togni - if you like old world styled wines, this is the place. The tour takes a little while but it is different and educational.

5. Reverie on Diamond Mountain. - Real neat tour, and sometimes a bit comedic as well, you can't go wrong here and the wines are excellent and underrated as well.



If you go to Kapcsandy, let me know how it goes, I am very interested in going there this year, I am on their mailing list.


Go!

Louis will take care of you. One of my favorite wine experiences.
quote:
Originally posted by godx:
quote:
Originally posted by Dick Tree:
Some good recommendations above, but I don't agree with the negatives regarding Del Dotto. I had a tasting there (no tour) and found the people great fun and the wines outstanding. If you don't like this type of decor be sure to stay away from Darioush.

I dont know how anyone could evaluate a wine with LOUD music blasting and so many people in that main area/lobby. Even inside the "caves" you could hear the music, and there were at least 3 other "tours" going on at the same time. As far as we could tell, and the people we spoke to, its a place that people go to get hammered. Other wineries called it the 'Party Palace' and 'Del Blado'. Had the tour been free, or $25 a head it wouldnt have been so bad...but $50 each for what we got was a joke. To each his own.

We did do Darioush, based on another recommendation. While the decor is just as tacky as Del Dotto, the tour is actually a tour, the host was knowledgeable, and after the tour, you go to a sit down tasting with various cheeses and 6 wines. After that sit down tasting (in a private room within the caves), we went upstairs to another room where the host poured a few other wines to try. It was very good.


Maybe ones experience depends on the day of the week they visit the winery. A friend and I visited Del Dotto on a Wednesday and we were the only ones there. Soft classical music was playing and we had a great time tasting and talking with the hostess. Perhaps if there had been twenty or thirty others in the tasting room then we would have had a lesser time?
Saturday is our busiest day of the week, especially in the afternoon. David Del Dotto is a loud, fun, crazy Italian. If he is in the winery he tends to get bored and turn the music up. As for the decor of the winery, our architect lives in Florence. David had everything imported from Italy and it was always his dream to build a Venetian winery on the property where he lives. I guess it is a matter of taste. I miss everyone on this board. If you're in the area, stop in.
Cheers...Cavegirl

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