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Two Women on Wine: Wine country trips

Proper planning and pacing are key ingredients

Posted: August 14, 2009 11:17 a.m.
Updated: August 14, 2009 11:15 a.m.
Lil Lepore and Shari FrazierTwo Women on Wine Lil Lepore and Shari FrazierTwo Women on Wine
Lil Lepore and Shari FrazierTwo Women on Wine
We just returned from five great days in the Napa-Sonoma wine country. If you have a trip planned or are even thinking about it sometime down the road, we'd like to offer a few suggestions to enhance your experience.

First, you'll want to plan your destination. Yountville is our favorite place to stay. Nestled between Napa and St. Helena on Hwy 29, this charming hideaway is home to great hotels and restaurants. It's centrally located for visiting most wineries and a quick five minute drive to the Silverado Trail.

We stayed at a new resort named Bardessono, located on Yount Street. This is an eco-friendly resort with a European flair, which just opened in February. The resort is on the high end of many accommodations in Yountville. A few other hotels to consider include The Yountville Inn, The Vintage Inn, and the very charming Petit Logis.

Once you've arrived at your destination, we recommend starting your day with breakfast at Pacific Blues Cafe, home of the best pancakes ever! Bouchon Bakery is a must if you are in the market for delicious pastries and breads. They have a small sitting area outside the bakery restaurant that is charming and a great place to people watch.

Many wineries and tasting rooms do not require reservations, but keep in mind that some do. Most wineries charge between $10 - $50 per person for tastings. Advance planning guarantees you get the times, tours and special wineries you want to visit.

Enjoy cave and cellar tours, library wine tastings, barrel tastings, and food pairing demonstrations. Check winery Web sites for cost and tour times. We promise you'll be happy you did.

Some of the wineries we toured on this trip were Robert Sinskey Vineyards, Chateau Montelena, Paraduxx, ZD Wines, Silver Oak, Turnbull Wine Cellers, Big Horn Cellars, Elyse Winery, Hope & Grace Wines, La Serena and Revana.

If you want to beat the crowds, start your wine tastings as early as 10:30 a.m. Make sure to plan time for lunch or a picnic at one of the wineries. One suggestion for picnic supplies is Bouchon Bakery in Yountville. Further up Hwy 29 in Oakville stop at the Oakville Grocery, the best place in town for sandwiches, cheeses, tapenades, and all the fixings for your wine picnic. Just look for the long line of cars parked on the side of the road; you can't miss it.

For the best hamburgers and french fries, don't miss Taylor's Automatic Refresher on Hwy 29 in St. Helena. Not in the mood for a hamburger? Then try the ahi tuna burger. It's absolutely incredible!

The Yountville dinner hot spots we recommend include Michael Chirello's, Botega at V Marketplace, Bistro Jeanty (where you must try the mussels), Bouchon, and REDD. In St. Helena, try Martini House. By far the best food and wine pairing dinner we enjoyed was at La Toque in Napa. Reservations for these restaurants are highly recommended.

Of course, we would be remiss not to mention The French Laundry in Yountville for lunch or dinner. Be aware, reservations are accepted two months in advance of the date of your visit. This is certainly worth the wait, as long as your wallet is prepared for the set-price dinner.

A few other considerations - we always travel with our favorite wine region map available at any bookstore. We suggest picking up a copy prior to your trip to help you organize your days. While on your trip drink plenty of water throughout the day, allow time between tastings, and think about hiring a car service.

And our final thought: pace yourself, drive carefully and enjoy.

Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier are owners of Vino 100 in Valencia, a unique specialty wine store offering boutique, handcrafted wines from small, artisan vineyards, as well as a large selection of gifts and accessories. Daily tastings, weekly specials and monthly events. Visit Vino 100 located at 28112 Newhall Ranch Road in the HighRidge Crossing Center at the corner of Copper Hill Drive in Valencia. (661) 294-6886,


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