I'm one half of a young NYC couple heading to spend 4 days in Napa/Sonoma. While I have exhausted my research on chowhound and the web, I'm now suffering from information overload. I really love big cabs and love exploring new wine countries, my boyfriend on the other hand probably prefers a more laid back approach to tastings and might be easily intimidated. While I don't want to miss experiencing great wines, I hope someone can vet my list with ambiance/experience factored in and find a few great places to drop in for a quick(ish) tasting as compared to the full lengthy tours.
Day 1: SFO - through Napa town/carneros - Yountville Inn
Dinner Reservation: Redd
I've read great things about Stelzner, Hartwell, Pine Ridge and Shafer. Unfortunately Shafer is booked.. I myself love Stag's Leap wine, but want to keep the $34-$45 tastings to a minimum.
Question: Since all of the above wineries are in that price range to taste, which is the "must-see"? Are there any other options in the area for a drop-in tasting and not necessarily the full tour (we will only half half day).
Day 2: Drive through St. Helena and cross over into Sonoma - Gaige House, Glen Ellen
Dinner reservation: El Dorado Kitchen
Cakebread cellars? Has anyone done the food pairing?
Casa Nuestra, Pride (head west on Spring Mountain toward Sonoma)
Suggestion in Kenwood as we drive down towards Glen Ellen?
Day 3: Russian River Valley or Healdsburg?
We are staying the two nights in Glen Ellen, but plan to spend Saturday up north. I don't love Zin's or Pinots (which seem to be the focus in RRV). Where do you think the day is best spent?
If we do RRV, it seems the best choices are Siduri, Rochioli, Arista, Hartford and Merry Edwards. I haven't attempted to get a reservation at any of them however.
Any suggestions or alternative plans are welcome. We also need a dinner suggestion near Glen Ellen for Saturday evening. Girl and the Fig is an option, but don't love "comfort food" menus.