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1 hour ago, culdeus said:

My limited googling today finds that there are people that charge by the hour to just drive you, then people that charge more to sort of tour you.  

Willing to do either for 20% less, so long as you ignore that I'm sleeping in my car and won't have showered for... however many days you require my assistance. 

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6 hours ago, Bob Sacamano said:

I'm sure we'll go back to Napa at some point, but for the cost difference, this I can not recommend enough:

Fly into Santa Barbara. 

Drive to Santa Ynez. Stay here. They have breakfast in the morning. They have wine and charcuterie happy hour in the evenings. They have a tasting passport, which gets you comped tastings at a list of wineries (under Wine). They've removed a few of our favorites, it appears, but Stolpman, Sunstone, and Zaca Mesa are well worth your time. I can make some other winery recommendations in the area if anyone ever does this. I'm sure others here can, as well (Buttonwood, Vincent, Babcock, Carr, Beckmen come to mind).

Grab lunch here one day, and while you're there you might as well grab a tasting at Alma Rosa (though the wines are a little pricier than most in the area, the tasting room is quaint). While you're at Stolpman, grab lunch here one day, and shop their wine room. They have a great selection and much better deals than you'll find at the wineries. Make a reservation for dinner one night here. You'll want the reservation, and the food is excellent. It's the "can't miss" food option in SY, imo. 

If this doesn't charm the smallclothes off your S.O., I don't know what to tell you. You're doing it wrong. 

Close to me and a very good call. There are some iffy wines. But some good ones. Really like Carr and Crawford

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Lots of great stuff already. Def have a schedule and reserve tasting in advance if possible, it's overwhelming how much there is there. More than a few wine places in a day is kinda pushing it IMO. You really can't go wrong - this area of the world is pretty much perfect.

 

Wine places I enjoyed were:

Viader - Absolutely amazing setup and that is saying a lot for this area. Perched on a hillside, truly spectacular. 

Elhers Estate - cool setting, good wine

Gargiulo - see Ehlers notes

 

Food places I enjoyed, mostly in Yountville area. None are hidden gems but were all really good and stick out in my memory:

Ad Hoc - Super good

Mustards - Best pork chop I have ever had. I seem to remember locals poo-pooing the place but it was really good

Buchon - Not really a secret. Great pastries

Oakville Grocery - Great place to make picnic stop Napa Style (meaning you will drop 80 bucks :lol: )

Gotts Roadside, St Helena - Burger spot, super well known

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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Off topic and don't mean to distract from the advice but...my first trip to Napa with my wife about 10 or so years ago, it was our last day we were at Ehlers mentioned above, mid-week so place was quiet.

A guy and his I assumed wife were near us, only other people in the outdoor area where we were enjoying lunch and a glass. Beautiful spot.

He is pretty loud, I honestly think he's being annoying. He asks us to take a pic of them, of course we say sure. He then just starts chatting and he and his friend (turns out not his wife) eventually sits with us. This guy ends up being the nicest person on the planet. Asks us where we have been, what we like. Says he is going to take care of us the rest of the day. He sets up tastings for us at 2 more places that we would have never heard of, has us following him around we are just flying on these backroads. Both great spots (one of them Viader mentioned above).

We stop at some place to watch sunset located in a hotel on a hillside that I still can't remember the name of. If I could I would def recco that spot. 

Whole thing was just a pleasure and we still talk about this occasionally.

Guy's name was Neil and his ladyfriend was a dentist from the East Coast who he was putting the full court charm press on. He gave us a print out long since lost called "Neil's Deals" :lol: 

Neil if you are out there...thanks man. It was a pleasure to hang with you. Hopefully things worked out with the dentist.

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Just now, matuski said:

We stayed there the last time we went, great place.

I bet. That place looked very nice. We just ate there at the little barn looking place on the grounds.

I’m an eggs benedict snob and they lived up to the test! 

 

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4 hours ago, Drunken Cowboy said:

We would be looking for longer experiences. I am fine visiting a small number of places and getting to learn about the wine. I drink about everything, but not much a fan of sweet wines. We are happy to spend for a good experience. We don't drink them everyday, but we don't mind a $100 bottle.  

 

good info - thanks! 

and there's a ton of great suggestions in this thread, so i hope we can keep it going for people heading out to NorCal wine country.

to touch on a few points questions: 

- Wine Clubs: almost everywhere you'll visit has some version of a Wine Club, Allocation List, or subscription-based Membership for direct-to-consumer sales. Just kinda depends on each winery and the model they've chosen. I wouldn't say one is necessarily better than another, and depending on what they offer their Members will help you make a decision if it's right for you. Some places offer deep discounts on wine purchases, others offer "complimentary" shipping. Still others offer comp experiences at their other properties, and some require a Membership to access any of the wines. 

- Transportation: Uber/Lyft are definitely available, however with the large influx of people visiting the region and that particular industry just starting to bounce back, there are more people requesting rides vs actual rides available. This also presents another challenge: since most/all tastings are by reservation, waiting on an Uber/Lyft (not to mention traffic in various areas) can cause delays in travel, which then affect prompt arrival for your reservation. Some wineries will accommodate a late arrival with a shortened experience, while others won't accept guests who arrive more than XX minutes late. My recommendation would be a hired car, and there are many companies/services available for this, so if you'd like suggestions I'm happy to help. Further, by using a tour company or private driver, they also have connections which may help you get into [exclusive] spots you want to visit. 

as for more winery suggestions: 

Caldwell Vineyards - tasted here last fall and it was a blast. the whole story about the winery and the owner are worth the price of admission, and the wines are very good to great. 

Theorem Vineyards - solid wines and a very exclusive experience. Tastings are around 90 minutes and are accompanied w/ cheese & charcuterie. 

Corison - small producer in St. Helena, and one of my favorite wineries to visit. Definitely a wine-focused experience which provides a ton of information about the terrior in the area. I would recommend either of the "Vertical Tastings" they offer. While a little spendy, if you enjoy wines with an Old World sensibility then this is for you. 

of course, I'd be remiss not to offer to host you at our winery in Sonoma if you're feeling spicy and want to make a trip over the Mountain to the West Side. if you have more questions or need clarification on anything just let me know. 

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1 minute ago, Quint said:

good info - thanks! 

and there's a ton of great suggestions in this thread, so i hope we can keep it going for people heading out to NorCal wine country.

to touch on a few points questions: 

- Wine Clubs: almost everywhere you'll visit has some version of a Wine Club, Allocation List, or subscription-based Membership for direct-to-consumer sales. Just kinda depends on each winery and the model they've chosen. I wouldn't say one is necessarily better than another, and depending on what they offer their Members will help you make a decision if it's right for you. Some places offer deep discounts on wine purchases, others offer "complimentary" shipping. Still others offer comp experiences at their other properties, and some require a Membership to access any of the wines. 

- Transportation: Uber/Lyft are definitely available, however with the large influx of people visiting the region and that particular industry just starting to bounce back, there are more people requesting rides vs actual rides available. This also presents another challenge: since most/all tastings are by reservation, waiting on an Uber/Lyft (not to mention traffic in various areas) can cause delays in travel, which then affect prompt arrival for your reservation. Some wineries will accommodate a late arrival with a shortened experience, while others won't accept guests who arrive more than XX minutes late. My recommendation would be a hired car, and there are many companies/services available for this, so if you'd like suggestions I'm happy to help. Further, by using a tour company or private driver, they also have connections which may help you get into [exclusive] spots you want to visit. 

as for more winery suggestions: 

Caldwell Vineyards - tasted here last fall and it was a blast. the whole story about the winery and the owner are worth the price of admission, and the wines are very good to great. 

Theorem Vineyards - solid wines and a very exclusive experience. Tastings are around 90 minutes and are accompanied w/ cheese & charcuterie. 

Corison - small producer in St. Helena, and one of my favorite wineries to visit. Definitely a wine-focused experience which provides a ton of information about the terrior in the area. I would recommend either of the "Vertical Tastings" they offer. While a little spendy, if you enjoy wines with an Old World sensibility then this is for you. 

of course, I'd be remiss not to offer to host you at our winery in Sonoma if you're feeling spicy and want to make a trip over the Mountain to the West Side. if you have more questions or need clarification on anything just let me know. 

Thanks. I like vertical tastings. That one is interesting. 

I should probably know this, but where are you at?

I would definitely welcome suggestions for drivers. 

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7 minutes ago, Drunken Cowboy said:

Thanks. I like vertical tastings. That one is interesting. 

I should probably know this, but where are you at?

I would definitely welcome suggestions for drivers. 

i'm up at Repris (Moon Mountain District) right above Sonoma Valley. 

for drivers, here's a short list: 

Private Wine Drivers - (Ryan McGorry)
Noble Wine Tours - (Austin Noble)
Eclectic Tour - (Darren Schauer)
Rose Wine Tours - (Luke Rose)
Perry's Wine Tours - (Paul Perry)

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9 minutes ago, Quint said:

- Transportation: Uber/Lyft are definitely available, however with the large influx of people visiting the region and that particular industry just starting to bounce back, there are more people requesting rides vs actual rides available. This also presents another challenge: since most/all tastings are by reservation, waiting on an Uber/Lyft (not to mention traffic in various areas) can cause delays in travel, which then affect prompt arrival for your reservation. Some wineries will accommodate a late arrival with a shortened experience, while others won't accept guests who arrive more than XX minutes late. My recommendation would be a hired car, and there are many companies/services available for this, so if you'd like suggestions I'm happy to help. Further, by using a tour company or private driver, they also have connections which may help you get into [exclusive] spots you want to visit. 

A lot of business publications are talking about a real shortage in rental cars this summer due to the pandemic/used car pricing. So useful to plan ahead on this part. The WSJ last week even suggesting booking a car before deciding on an airport.

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16 minutes ago, Quint said:

good info - thanks! 

and there's a ton of great suggestions in this thread, so i hope we can keep it going for people heading out to NorCal wine country.

to touch on a few points questions: 

- Wine Clubs: almost everywhere you'll visit has some version of a Wine Club, Allocation List, or subscription-based Membership for direct-to-consumer sales. Just kinda depends on each winery and the model they've chosen. I wouldn't say one is necessarily better than another, and depending on what they offer their Members will help you make a decision if it's right for you. Some places offer deep discounts on wine purchases, others offer "complimentary" shipping. Still others offer comp experiences at their other properties, and some require a Membership to access any of the wines. 

- Transportation: Uber/Lyft are definitely available, however with the large influx of people visiting the region and that particular industry just starting to bounce back, there are more people requesting rides vs actual rides available. This also presents another challenge: since most/all tastings are by reservation, waiting on an Uber/Lyft (not to mention traffic in various areas) can cause delays in travel, which then affect prompt arrival for your reservation. Some wineries will accommodate a late arrival with a shortened experience, while others won't accept guests who arrive more than XX minutes late. My recommendation would be a hired car, and there are many companies/services available for this, so if you'd like suggestions I'm happy to help. Further, by using a tour company or private driver, they also have connections which may help you get into [exclusive] spots you want to visit. 

as for more winery suggestions: 

Caldwell Vineyards - tasted here last fall and it was a blast. the whole story about the winery and the owner are worth the price of admission, and the wines are very good to great. 

Theorem Vineyards - solid wines and a very exclusive experience. Tastings are around 90 minutes and are accompanied w/ cheese & charcuterie. 

Corison - small producer in St. Helena, and one of my favorite wineries to visit. Definitely a wine-focused experience which provides a ton of information about the terrior in the area. I would recommend either of the "Vertical Tastings" they offer. While a little spendy, if you enjoy wines with an Old World sensibility then this is for you. 

of course, I'd be remiss not to offer to host you at our winery in Sonoma if you're feeling spicy and want to make a trip over the Mountain to the West Side. if you have more questions or need clarification on anything just let me know. 

Second vote for Corison - especially if you like  to hear about the process. We tasted there and the wine maker stopped by she really gave us a ton of info above my knowledge, but was very interesting. 

Big, big reds that were recommended to sit for 10 years plus. 

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1 minute ago, Desert_Power said:

A lot of business publications are talking about a real shortage in rental cars this summer due to the pandemic/used car pricing. So useful to plan ahead on this part. The WSJ last week even suggesting booking a car before deciding on an airport.

this is 100% correct. had a couple arrive last weekend in a 10 person passenger van rental....it was all they had available. 

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I know nothing about wine but we went a few years ago for my dad’s 60th birthday. We hired a guy to drive us around for both days and it was awesome. 
 

Again I know nothing about wine but I had the most fun at Cakebread (I thought the tour was really cool and I generally prefer white wines and theirs were amazing) and V Sattui, where we had lunch and it was awesome. Don’t remember much about the wine there, but their food/atmosphere is great. Went to a place called Prager which I think is basically a hole-in-the-wall as far as wineries go and it was really fun. I think they mostly do port there. 
 

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9 hours ago, The Gator said:

Not to hijack ... but any recs on wine clubs from these places?

I cannot comment. I am in industry and haven't paid a tasting fee for 10 years (and they offer pricing better than Wine Clubs)

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23 minutes ago, The General said:

I forgot @Quint was local (for some reason I thought you were Oregon winery based.

Just listen to him and the other locals :lol:

 

Me too!  Wish I'd remembered the local and industry people here before I went a couple of weeks ago.  I do agree just listen to these guys, but I still stand by my 1a and 1b of Schramsberg and Darioush.  Someone mentioned having bubbles first thing in the morning, and I couldn't agree more!  Because my trip was semi-spontaneous (made plans 7-10 days before arrival), the only time I could get at Schramsberg was 9:30 a.m. on Easter morning.  It was perfect!  That's the way to start the day.

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6 minutes ago, Drunken knight said:

I cannot comment. I am in industry and haven't paid a tasting fee for 10 years (and they offer pricing better than Wine Clubs)

first rule of Industry: don't talk about Industry. 

🤣

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3 hours ago, matuski said:

Shafer not being mentioned yet is criminal.

Do Shafer.

Back when I was in the wine biz I was fortunate enough to stay in John Shafer's guest house. It was around 1990 and he was grooming his son Doug to take over at the time. I barrel tasted many cabs and they were all phenomenal.

The Silverado Trail is loaded with killer cabernet. Silverado, Stags Leap Wine Cellars, Shafer, Joseph Phelps. It's like the murderers row of top Napa wineries.

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1 hour ago, The General said:

I forgot @Quint was local (for some reason I thought you were Oregon winery based.

Just listen to him and the other locals :lol:

 

I might be the Oregon winery guy you're thinking of as @Quintand I have collaborated in some other wine threads here.  He's obviously well dialed in on all things Napa/Sonoma.  On the other hand, if you want a more laid back vibe but super fun and much less pricey, come see us in the Willamette Valley.

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18 minutes ago, Buc in Exile said:

I might be the Oregon winery guy you're thinking of as @Quintand I have collaborated in some other wine threads here.  He's obviously well dialed in on all things Napa/Sonoma.  On the other hand, if you want a more laid back vibe but super fun and much less pricey, come see us in the Willamette Valley.

Yes it was def you. How could I have forgotten the Bucs logo.

Love the Willamette area and we are well over due a trip down there. 

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25 minutes ago, Buc in Exile said:

I might be the Oregon winery guy you're thinking of as @Quintand I have collaborated in some other wine threads here.  He's obviously well dialed in on all things Napa/Sonoma.  On the other hand, if you want a more laid back vibe but super fun and much less pricey, come see us in the Willamette Valley.

We talked about it 

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More of a pinot noir fan so some that are in Sonoma county that I like (between Santa Rosa and Healdsburg). Stay at the Best Western in Healdsburg a lot.  Usually will get a driver for the day if its an aggressive day


MacRostie (really nice property, great pinots)

Papapietro Perry(tasting room isn't special but wines are fantastic)

Lynmar Estates, real nice property, closer to Santa Rosa, they are in Sebastopol

Woodenhead (very friendly there, they seem to pour everything they have for you, zins and pinots basically)

Martinelli (basic tasting room but great Pinots)

Edited by Dwayne Hoover
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1 hour ago, Buc in Exile said:

I might be the Oregon winery guy you're thinking of as @Quintand I have collaborated in some other wine threads here.  He's obviously well dialed in on all things Napa/Sonoma.  On the other hand, if you want a more laid back vibe but super fun and much less pricey, come see us in the Willamette Valley.

Headed there in September. Flying into Portland. Driving down to Willamette Valley. Staying at Allison Inn. Wine tasting then driving down for 4 days of golf at Bandon Dunes. Can’t wait. Recommendations?

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6 hours ago, DA RAIDERS said:

never been to shafer.  excellent wines.  they need time in the bottle though.  imho

another vote for jarvis

They do, but their winery is a pretty cool visit. You're being poured Hillside Select, so there's that. It's a little on the formal side, but it's fun with a good group. And the wines are still Shafer, even if a bit young/big. 

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6 hours ago, Judge Smails said:

Close to me and a very good call. There are some iffy wines. But some good ones. Really like Carr and Crawford

It's definitely a little more hit or miss, especially places like Vincent. But the property's so nice you don't mind, while you're sitting outside taking in the sun and the scene.

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6 hours ago, Judge Smails said:

Close to me and a very good call. There are some iffy wines. But some good ones. Really like Carr and Crawford

Have never been to Crawford. Will have to check it out next time.

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If you find yourself in Russian River and you like craft beer you must visit Russian River Brewery, it is a mecca for us beer geeks.  The pizza is also top-notch.   I can't recommend this place enough.

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8 hours ago, Buc in Exile said:

I might be the Oregon winery guy you're thinking of as @Quintand I have collaborated in some other wine threads here.  He's obviously well dialed in on all things Napa/Sonoma.  On the other hand, if you want a more laid back vibe but super fun and much less pricey, come see us in the Willamette Valley.

We visited my cousin in Portland around 7 years ago. She took us to the Willamette Valley on a Sunday to visit wineries. Little did we know it was the day of the annual Pinot Noir Festival. As we sampled from the booths I noticed a long line at one. Ends up it was Ken Wright's booth and the locals were all saying this was the only event all year where you could sample his wines - OMG, I was blown away and his wines are always my go to for PN.

Another gem in the PacNW is the Yakima Valley in WA. We toured a bunch of great wineries there and it seems they still have not achieved the recognition they deserve and are great value. Some wineries would have a small sign for free tastings just "ring the bell". A guy would roll up his garage door and there would be a tasting station. Some excellent deep, dark cabernets. We loved it. 

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17 minutes ago, Godsbrother said:

If you find yourself in Russian River and you like craft beer you must visit Russian River Brewery, it is a mecca for us beer geeks.  The pizza is also top-notch.   I can't recommend this place enough.

Back when I was in the biz we had a private tour stop at DeLoach in 1990. At the time it was owned by Cecil DeLoach a retired fireman. The winery was beautiful and he had a tall observation tower that looked down the Russian River. We arrived around noon and after the tour he took us up in the tower for some tasting. There were 3 other salesman with me and we had hit it hard the night before at the Cabaret Sauvignon in downtown Sonoma with the Benziger brothers of Glen Ellen fame at the time. 

Mr. DeLoach started pouring and then looked up at his mostly green faced party, "JC, you guys look ####ed up. What did you do last night?" When we told him we partied with the Benziger boys he said, "you're lucky to have survived with those guys."

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1 hour ago, Joe Mammy said:

We visited my cousin in Portland around 7 years ago. She took us to the Willamette Valley on a Sunday to visit wineries. Little did we know it was the day of the annual Pinot Noir Festival. As we sampled from the booths I noticed a long line at one. Ends up it was Ken Wright's booth and the locals were all saying this was the only event all year where you could sample his wines - OMG, I was blown away and his wines are always my go to for PN.

Another gem in the PacNW is the Yakima Valley in WA. We toured a bunch of great wineries there and it seems they still have not achieved the recognition they deserve and are great value. Some wineries would have a small sign for free tastings just "ring the bell". A guy would roll up his garage door and there would be a tasting station. Some excellent deep, dark cabernets. We loved it. 

Ken has achieved a Godfather-like status here.  It's well earned given all he's done for the Valley but he's a little more commercial now.  I opened my place in 2015 and even in just that time, Oregon's reputation for producers across the board has elevated significantly.  Hard to find wine here that isn't beautifully made - just depends on what style you're looking for.

Totally agree on Yakima and I'll add Prosser and Walla Walla for the most authentic experiences with fantastic wines.  Woodinville has all the fancy tasting rooms and all the big names but they're all getting their grapes from east of the Cascades because they can't ripen anything to the west.  The downside is that it's 3 hours (5 for Walla Walla, including a mountain pass that sometimes closes from snow) from Seattle metro so not as easy to pull customers for day trips and to make visits to your source vineyards during the season.  Nice thing about WV is we're only an hour from PDX and we can actually have estate vineyards on site - makes the customer experience more complete I think.

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1 hour ago, Godsbrother said:

If you find yourself in Russian River and you like craft beer you must visit Russian River Brewery, it is a mecca for us beer geeks.  The pizza is also top-notch.   I can't recommend this place enough.

I have never been to the brewery, but I am vary familiar with their beer. That would be a big reason if we switch up destinations.  

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8 hours ago, Judge Smails said:

Headed there in September. Flying into Portland. Driving down to Willamette Valley. Staying at Allison Inn. Wine tasting then driving down for 4 days of golf at Bandon Dunes. Can’t wait. Recommendations?

Don't want to hijack OP too much and we can gladly take this to PM if they would prefer.  This is me: Bells Up.  I'm literally a 2 minute drive up the hill from the Allison so you'd better come see me at the very least. 😉    Can give you a ton of recs but I need to know 3 things to fine tune it:

1. How long you'll be here

2. What type of experiences you're looking for.  Some of the Napa-type experiences described above with expansive food pairings and such don't exist here to that extent - it's mostly about the wines and the people behind them.  There are plenty of places in the area with beautiful buildings and very expensive wines but people that see me are usually looking for the hidden gems and I know plenty of those, but want to make sure I match you to what you're looking for.  Many folks look for a variety of experiences, and I can certainly get you there.

3. When in September you're coming.  If it's the beginning or middle of September, great.  If it's late in September, many small places will go into shutdown mode for harvest.  Because we're tiny and don't have employees, I'll be doing a lot of power washing of equipment and making final decisions on harvest dates, etc.

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1 hour ago, Joe Mammy said:

We visited my cousin in Portland around 7 years ago. She took us to the Willamette Valley on a Sunday to visit wineries. Little did we know it was the day of the annual Pinot Noir Festival. As we sampled from the booths I noticed a long line at one. Ends up it was Ken Wright's booth and the locals were all saying this was the only event all year where you could sample his wines - OMG, I was blown away and his wines are always my go to for PN.

Another gem in the PacNW is the Yakima Valley in WA. We toured a bunch of great wineries there and it seems they still have not achieved the recognition they deserve and are great value. Some wineries would have a small sign for free tastings just "ring the bell". A guy would roll up his garage door and there would be a tasting station. Some excellent deep, dark cabernets. We loved it. 

Didn't want to divert from the Napa talk BUT Walla Walla is a gem. Made a few trips out there (45 min flight from Seattle). Dozens of great wineries, amazing tasting spots popping up everywhere, great food, easy to get around, relatively inexpensive. Heading back out in May.

Seems like we might have a wine destination thread spawning here.

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4 minutes ago, The General said:

Didn't want to divert from the Napa talk BUT Walla Walla is a gem. Made a few trips out there (45 min flight from Seattle). Dozens of great wineries, amazing tasting spots popping up everywhere, great food, easy to get around, relatively inexpensive. Heading back out in May.

Seems like we might have a wine destination thread spawning here.

The only 3 years I did not live in FL we lived on San Juan Island in Friday Harbor from 98-01. Everywhere we went was virgin territory. When we heard Walla Walla, we thought onions. Little did we know the vino rips. Crossing the Cascades is like entering another world- from very wet to dry and arid.

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35 minutes ago, Buc in Exile said:

Don't want to hijack OP too much and we can gladly take this to PM if they would prefer.  This is me: Bells Up.  I'm literally a 2 minute drive up the hill from the Allison so you'd better come see me at the very least. 😉    Can give you a ton of recs but I need to know 3 things to fine tune it:

1. How long you'll be here

2. What type of experiences you're looking for.  Some of the Napa-type experiences described above with expansive food pairings and such don't exist here to that extent - it's mostly about the wines and the people behind them.  There are plenty of places in the area with beautiful buildings and very expensive wines but people that see me are usually looking for the hidden gems and I know plenty of those, but want to make sure I match you to what you're looking for.  Many folks look for a variety of experiences, and I can certainly get you there.

3. When in September you're coming.  If it's the beginning or middle of September, great.  If it's late in September, many small places will go into shutdown mode for harvest.  Because we're tiny and don't have employees, I'll be doing a lot of power washing of equipment and making final decisions on harvest dates, etc.

I have not visited, but I've tried BIE's wines. Definitely worth a stop.

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14 hours ago, Quint said:

i'm up at Repris (Moon Mountain District) right above Sonoma Valley. 

for drivers, here's a short list: 

Private Wine Drivers - (Ryan McGorry)
Noble Wine Tours - (Austin Noble)
Eclectic Tour - (Darren Schauer)
Rose Wine Tours - (Luke Rose)
Perry's Wine Tours - (Paul Perry)

Should I say you referred me?

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1 hour ago, Buc in Exile said:

Don't want to hijack OP too much and we can gladly take this to PM if they would prefer.  This is me: Bells Up.  I'm literally a 2 minute drive up the hill from the Allison so you'd better come see me at the very least. 😉    Can give you a ton of recs but I need to know 3 things to fine tune it:

1. How long you'll be here

2. What type of experiences you're looking for.  Some of the Napa-type experiences described above with expansive food pairings and such don't exist here to that extent - it's mostly about the wines and the people behind them.  There are plenty of places in the area with beautiful buildings and very expensive wines but people that see me are usually looking for the hidden gems and I know plenty of those, but want to make sure I match you to what you're looking for.  Many folks look for a variety of experiences, and I can certainly get you there.

3. When in September you're coming.  If it's the beginning or middle of September, great.  If it's late in September, many small places will go into shutdown mode for harvest.  Because we're tiny and don't have employees, I'll be doing a lot of power washing of equipment and making final decisions on harvest dates, etc.

Very cool.  Do you enjoy the wine-making business?

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4 hours ago, Godsbrother said:

If you find yourself in Russian River and you like craft beer you must visit Russian River Brewery, it is a mecca for us beer geeks.  The pizza is also top-notch.   I can't recommend this place enough.

How far exactly do you want me to be after this?

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2 hours ago, The General said:

Didn't want to divert from the Napa talk BUT Walla Walla is a gem. Made a few trips out there (45 min flight from Seattle). Dozens of great wineries, amazing tasting spots popping up everywhere, great food, easy to get around, relatively inexpensive. Heading back out in May.

Seems like we might have a wine destination thread spawning here.

Love Walla Walla.  We went out there for spring release weekend a couple of years ago, and, other than my friend coming thisclose to death in a choking incident (her heart was stopped for 4+ minutes), it was as fun a wine experience as I've had anywhere.  We're also planning to head back in May...  :oldunsure: 

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37 minutes ago, krista4 said:

Love Walla Walla.  We went out there for spring release weekend a couple of years ago, and, other than my friend coming thisclose to death in a choking incident (her heart was stopped for 4+ minutes), it was as fun a wine experience as I've had anywhere.  We're also planning to head back in May...  :oldunsure: 

Whoa. Hopefully you avoid that this time.

We are there 3rd week of May. If you haven’t yet start booking times and there’s places you really want to go maybe start checking. Think they are still dealing with limited capacity so stuff was filling up. 

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1 hour ago, jon_mx said:

Very cool.  Do you enjoy the wine-making business?

I love it - but there are some caveats to my answer.  I do things very differently than most.  I have no employees - it's just me and my wife - and you won't find my wines in shops or restaurants (even prior to COVID).  My business is 100% private seated tastings by appointment and I only take 1 group at a time.  So I'm not getting tour buses or bachelorette parties - I'm getting people that love wine and want to spend time getting to know the folks actually doing all the work in a more relaxed setting.  We view all of this as relationship building with each customer.  It works because I'm making so few cases that I carry very little inventory - most of what I make sells out the same year or soon thereafter.  We want to keep this way of operating going long term, so we have what I call a "theoretical max" on the volume I'd ever produce (about twice the case count I'm currently making) and I'd cap production at that point.

If I were a traditional winery (as would operate in non-COVID times) with regular hours and having to deal with issues of distribution and mass market sales, I would probably throw myself off a bridge.

 

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