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Wine Country Recommendations

VivreManger | Sep 26, 200403:10 PM

In November, the week before Thanksgiving, I am planning with a friend who lives in Palo Alto a day trip to visit wineries and a good restaurant in the Napa Valley. Along the way we would like to eat well. For a variety of reasons French Laundry is out. He's been and thinks it little better than a French one star. I haven't, but I have better things to do with my life than hassle their reservation policy.

So we are looking for other suggestions, particularly regarding scenery, wineries and good food. We probably would be dining there at lunch time.

Here are some of the suggestions I have culled:

Tra Vigne
Bistro Jeanty
Glen Ellen Inn
Taylor's Refresher
Domaine Chandon
Farmhouse Inn in the Russian River Valley
Angele, located on the Napa River
Pilar's in Napa,
La Toque in St. Helena,
Sonoma Saveur in Sonoma

A few caveats. I have no idea where any of these places are and how great their distance from SF. Ideally I would like a place with a superb setting, near some good wineries, serving excellent food at an appropriate price/quality ratio -- a way to experience the good life in the wine country. All of this in an easy day trip. Am I dreaming??

I have no strong preference for what kind of food. It seems that the best choices are Italian and French with a California accent, whatever that be. My friend will probably tell me what distances are practical, but he has asked me to check into the latest resto knowledge.

Many thanks for your help.

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