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mainshipfred

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I'm about to be a first time grandfather to twins. My son lives in San Diego and my wife and I wanted to make the best of it so we want to do a road trip from San Diego to Napa while out there. Neither of us has ever been to Cali and it's a 500 mile drive to get to San Fran which we thought would be a good stop. Are there any worthwhile stops along the way or once we get to San Fran is there anything from there to Napa. LA doesn't really interest either of us. If there is nothing special we could fly to San Fran. Thanks!
 

mainshipfred

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A day's drive from San Diego is Paso Robles - a good (wine) place to stop and get a tasting or two in. Plus, the 101 is a little more scenic than the I-5.
I was looking a 101, the only problem I might have is keeping my eyes on the road. Looks like a beautiful view. Thanks for Paso Robles though, it is sometimes one of our sources for grapes.
 

cmason1957

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If you end up in San Francisco and plan to go North, turn Left instead of right on Hwy 12 and go to Sonoma instead of Napa. It doesn't have the name, yet, but so many wineries and so good. Plus the wineries aren't nearly as proud of their wines. If you really want a fun out of the way, head up the 101 to Mendicino County, free tasting at most places and for my money I love the spiciness of the Zin and Sryah from up that way. Plus lots of neat little towns along 101 with 20 winery tasting rooms in every little town.
 

mainshipfred

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If you end up in San Francisco and plan to go North, turn Left instead of right on Hwy 12 and go to Sonoma instead of Napa. It doesn't have the name, yet, but so many wineries and so good. Plus the wineries aren't nearly as proud of their wines. If you really want a fun out of the way, head up the 101 to Mendicino County, free tasting at most places and for my money I love the spiciness of the Zin and Sryah from up that way. Plus lots of neat little towns along 101 with 20 winery tasting rooms in every little town.
Thanks Craig, 101 seems to be the route.
 

Chuck E

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If you end up in San Francisco and plan to go North, turn Left instead of right on Hwy 12 and go to Sonoma instead of Napa. It doesn't have the name, yet, but so many wineries and so good. Plus the wineries aren't nearly as proud of their wines. If you really want a fun out of the way, head up the 101 to Mendicino County, free tasting at most places and for my money I love the spiciness of the Zin and Sryah from up that way. Plus lots of neat little towns along 101 with 20 winery tasting rooms in every little town.
I loved Mendicino and the Anderson Valley, it's a nice drive north of Napa
 

CDrew

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Virtually the entire way up the coast after LA is wine country. Santa Barbara has several nice ones with tasting rooms in downton making tasting a several places close and compact.

A bit further up the coast is Lompoc/Santa Maria with dozens of wineries and an up and coming wine scene.

Then basically all the way up the 101 to the South Bay are even more.

Then you get just east and north of SFO and you hit Sonoma and Napa.

Honestly, the tasting experience in Sonoma is better than in Napa. Napa is overcrowded, expensive, and expensive. Crazy expensive. Good though, just not a good value.

A little further up the 101 is northern Sonoma and Dry Creek Valley which is a personal favorite. If you want details send me a PM of some great places to visit. Some highlights: Ridge, Armida, Truit Hurst (just a head's up a fantastic place for a picnic down by the river), Fritz, Dutcher Crossing, Mazzocco(Crazy dark and robust Zinfandel) And dozens more.

And if you have an extra day, Amador wine country is fun and a fantastic bargain compared to Sonoma/Napa. Particularly good for Zinfandel and Italian varietals like Barbera. Again, pm if you want details. Amador is now, what Sonoma was when I moved here 30 years ago. Not corporate, unhurried, underrated and thus a little less expensive, though that's changing fast. It's also fairly compact and easy to get around.

Enjoy your trip to Northern California. Hopefully the rain stops by the time you get here. This has been the wettest and coldest winter here in YEARS.
 

CabEnthusiast

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I'm about to be a first time grandfather to twins. My son lives in San Diego and my wife and I wanted to make the best of it so we want to do a road trip from San Diego to Napa while out there. Neither of us has ever been to Cali and it's a 500 mile drive to get to San Fran which we thought would be a good stop. Are there any worthwhile stops along the way or once we get to San Fran is there anything from there to Napa. LA doesn't really interest either of us. If there is nothing special we could fly to San Fran. Thanks!
Make a stop in Paso Robles, Tablas Creek is a good winery to visit they make a lot of good wines, Same with Justin Winery. You can also stop at Lucas & Lewellen in Solvang. If you pass through Arroyo Grande California which you should another good option would be Talley Winery.
 

mainshipfred

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Virtually the entire way up the coast after LA is wine country. Santa Barbara has several nice ones with tasting rooms in downton making tasting a several places close and compact.

A bit further up the coast is Lompoc/Santa Maria with dozens of wineries and an up and coming wine scene.

Then basically all the way up the 101 to the South Bay are even more.

Then you get just east and north of SFO and you hit Sonoma and Napa.

Honestly, the tasting experience in Sonoma is better than in Napa. Napa is overcrowded, expensive, and expensive. Crazy expensive. Good though, just not a good value.

A little further up the 101 is northern Sonoma and Dry Creek Valley which is a personal favorite. If you want details send me a PM of some great places to visit. Some highlights: Ridge, Armida, Truit Hurst (just a head's up a fantastic place for a picnic down by the river), Fritz, Dutcher Crossing, Mazzocco(Crazy dark and robust Zinfandel) And dozens more.

And if you have an extra day, Amador wine country is fun and a fantastic bargain compared to Sonoma/Napa. Particularly good for Zinfandel and Italian varietals like Barbera. Again, pm if you want details. Amador is now, what Sonoma was when I moved here 30 years ago. Not corporate, unhurried, underrated and thus a little less expensive, though that's changing fast. It's also fairly compact and easy to get around.

Enjoy your trip to Northern California. Hopefully the rain stops by the time you get here. This has been the wettest and coldest winter here in YEARS.
Thanks, the babies are due sometime next month but it's twins so who knows. Lot of good stuff here. Thanks for the PM offer, I probably will PM you as soon as I map out some of the recommendations
 

buzi

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JustJmy thoughts - I just had the opportunity to "pass though" Napa. We only had three days so I spent one day going to Lodi, one day in Napa and a half day in lower sonoma. Lodi has some of my favorite grapes and wineries so we took the day trip. Great wine and better priced but it isn't as visually stimulating as the other two. If I did it all over again I would split the trip between Napa and sonoma!

But I guess your trip depends on what your after. Do you want to see the most visually stimulating? Do you want to hit the best areas for your favorite grapes, favorite wineries? How long do you have? With tours, I was able to hit 4 of the 400+ wineries in a day. We wenter to the larger wineries for the history and grand estates. Next time I hope to hit more of the boutique wineries. Either way we didn't have enough time but it was still great! If you go to Napa get the Wine Pass($40 on Groupon). It paid for itself on the first tour. ps: being in the middle of winter and going on a Tuesday Napa was not crowded at all ;-) Keep that in mind when planning! Cheers!
 

Cellar Vader

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LOTS of excellent suggestions in this thread. I lived in SoCal for 25 years, and DEFINITELY “re-recommend” stopping in Santa Barbera (Lincourt!), Paso Robles (yes, Tablas Creek and Justin have some VERY good wines), Mendocino has hidden gems galour and Sonoma might be the friendliest wine country you’ll ever encounter. And Napa? In addition to being EXPENSIVE (spot on, CDrew!) it’s also (wait for it...)
EXPENSIVE!
Enjoy your grandchildren!
 

CabEnthusiast

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LOTS of excellent suggestions in this thread. I lived in SoCal for 25 years, and DEFINITELY “re-recommend” stopping in Santa Barbera (Lincourt!), Paso Robles (yes, Tablas Creek and Justin have some VERY good wines), Mendocino has hidden gems galour and Sonoma might be the friendliest wine country you’ll ever encounter. And Napa? In addition to being EXPENSIVE (spot on, CDrew!) it’s also (wait for it...)
EXPENSIVE!
Enjoy your grandchildren!
First of all I like your username, second yeah Napa has a lot of amazing wines but I feel that Napa can also be overated because of the Napa hype. Just my opinion.
 

mainshipfred

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Thanks everyone for the recommendations. It appears the 101 is the route to take and Sonoma is a must stop. Will probably hit Napa just because even though it's not a popular choice. Mendocino seems interesting as well. I hae a feeling planning this thing might be as interesting as the trip.
 

CDrew

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One thing you'll need to map out is how you plan to go around the Bay Area. I'd recommend the 680 which will line you up pretty well to hit Napa/Sonoma.

If you have more time, it is fun to go through SF and across the Golden Gate, but that takes more time. Traffic is terrible and slow.

I like your plan to hit Northern Sonoma/Dry Creek/Anderson Valley etc. Great wine, great scenery, usually unhurried. Mendocino is pretty far, so it depends on how much time you have for this excursion. And Napa is fun too, just bring your checkbook!

And if you decide you have time for a day in the Amador Wine Country, you won't regret it, and I can give you a personal tour if it lines up on a day I'm not working. Many places there are only open Saturdays and Sundays so be aware.
 

mainshipfred

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One thing you'll need to map out is how you plan to go around the Bay Area. I'd recommend the 680 which will line you up pretty well to hit Napa/Sonoma.

If you have more time, it is fun to go through SF and across the Golden Gate, but that takes more time. Traffic is terrible and slow.

I like your plan to hit Northern Sonoma/Dry Creek/Anderson Valley etc. Great wine, great scenery, usually unhurried. Mendocino is pretty far, so it depends on how much time you have for this excursion. And Napa is fun too, just bring your checkbook!

And if you decide you have time for a day in the Amador Wine Country, you won't regret it, and I can give you a personal tour if it lines up on a day I'm not working. Many places there are only open Saturdays and Sundays so be aware.
The tour is a very nice offer, thank you. Still don't know when we will be going but I'm thinking the end of April. May is when our Southern Hemisphere grapes come in.
 

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