Thinking of going to Napa next year and was wondering 2 things

1) what is the best time of year to go
2) which wineries do you recommend that I go to over the course of one week

Thanks in advance for your advice
Original Post
My best visit ever was in late march, weekdays. Not crowded, not too busy, great weather, and mustard in full bloom. If it's a first visit, I would try to mix the types of wineries visited. Eg. a famous, old line producer like Beringer or Montelena with smaller, more personal wineries like Neal or David Arthur, standards like V. Sattui, and little known places like Cloud View (some research is warranted for these). Apointments will be necessary for several. There are also an abundance of always open tasting rooms along Hwy 29. Would suggest limiting oneself to three or four or less a day.
quote:
Originally posted by bokchoy:
My best visit ever was in late march, weekdays. Not crowded, not too busy, great weather, and mustard in full bloom. If it's a first visit, I would try to mix the types of wineries visited. Eg. a famous, old line producer like Beringer or Montelena with smaller, more personal wineries like Neal or David Arthur, standards like V. Sattui, and little known places like Cloud View (some research is warranted for these). Apointments will be necessary for several. There are also an abundance of always open tasting rooms along Hwy 29. Would suggest limiting oneself to three or four or less a day.


bokchoy stoll my answer. My wife and I went March of '04, little to no lines, the Mustard blooms were beautiful, never a wait for dinner. The folks at the tasting rooms have more time for you since they arn't ten deep.
I would agree on March and also recommend November as it is after the Harvest, yet before the winter rains, everyone is in a good mood and like March, it is not crowded!

red4life
Wondering if it is worth buying wine at the wineries or, is it better to go to San Fransisco instead?

I am going for tastings as well as restaurants. Is the french laundry as good as I've read about? Where would you suggest that I stay. Not looking to spend too much on accomodations, more about the wine.
[QUOTE]Originally posted by maverickdrinker:
Wondering if it is worth buying wine at the wineries or, is it better to go to San Fransisco instead?QUOTE]

I would not buy wine from the winery that is easily avaliable retail as you will be able to buy it for less. However there is plenty of wine that is worth buying that is only avaliable at the winery.
Before I moved here, I would visit four times and year and found Thanksgiving weekend to be the best. Harvest is over and the entire valley is on fire with fall colors. The restaurants are empty and the wine is in barrels so people are beginning to relax.

Spring is just as nice as the mountains will be green but the vines bare (as indicated, the mustard will be blooming). Skip summer and fall...
Late fall after the harvest. Like now (mid November). The maple leafs are a beautiful golden color and make a wonderful contrast to the Douglas Firs just above the valley floor. Some vines emit a brilliant orange and crimson red color but only from late October to mid November. Substantial rain can hit as early as November but it is always welcome. Come to think of it anytime before April is a good time to visit the valley.
quote:
Originally posted by maverickdrinker:
Wondering if it is worth buying wine at the wineries or, is it better to go to San Fransisco instead?

I am going for tastings as well as restaurants. Is the french laundry as good as I've read about? Where would you suggest that I stay. Not looking to spend too much on accomodations, more about the wine.

The French Laundry is usually booked a year in advance. Napa is nice in March. If you are interested, there is Barrel tasting the first weekend of March in the Russian River, Dry Creek, and Alexander Valleys. Free if you bring a glass or $5 for a glass the whole weekend.

http://www.wineroad.com/events/barreltasting.asp
To get into the Laundry, you need to start calling at 9:58 am (PST) 3 months to the day that you want to dine. Hit redial as many times as you can until you get through. It's a faboulous experience but a very expensive one.

Feb-Apr is a great time to visit with all the mustard festival activities going on every week.
Just returned from 4 terrific days in Napa/Sonoma. Traveling during the fall/crush season is a great experience, although the most crowded. I suggest making a day trip to Sonoma as well. Wineries to visit:
Napa: Hess Collection, Mayacama, Spring Mountain Vineyards, Pride, and if you can arrange it, Peter Michael.
Sonoma: Rodney Strong, Martinelli, Pellegrini and Matanzas Creek

I will say that our visit to Peter Michael, which included a fabulous tasting, was easily the best I've had in wine country.
Forgot about the restaurants. We ate at some fabulous places. I would highly recommend Bouchon, Press, and easily the star of the show, Auberge du Soleil.
We enjoy going to Napa the last week of February for the Premiere auction. For those in the business and registered for Premiere, there are pre and post auction parties to meet with winery owners and winemakers. Have to register early since space is limited. Stick around for the following week for Russian River barrel tasting

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