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Putting it all together- Anniversary trip in July

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Putting it all together- Anniversary trip in July

Hello! My husband and I are planning a trip to California in July for our 1 year wedding anniversary. I have done quite a bit of reading on trip advisor, other sites and Moveable thirst. Now I just need a little help putting it all together :)

Our itinerary looks like this:

Thursday-arrive in San Francisco at midnight, so we will just be checking in and going to sleep to be fresh for Friday.

Friday and Saturday exploring SF.

Sunday- Pick up rental car- travel day- we are staying in Napa till Friday. (Staying at the Westin Versas)

Friday-travel day- drive to Carmel by the sea.

Sunday- drive back to San Francisco for flight out at 1.

First I was wondering about our travel day, I saw our hotel is about 50 miles to our hotel. So we should have some time to do something. I thought it might be a nice night to check out the area and maybe a tasting room downtown. Though now I see Thursday night has a great Chefs market that I know we would love.

-I saw some itineraries on here for people traveling from SF with recommendations to go to Sonoma or Calistoga because it is on the way. We definitely wanted to get there on one of our days. I don't want to rush it, but maybe our travel day is a good day for it.

-Basically just asking for suggestions on our travel day.

Second I am having difficulty narrowing down the wineries to visit. We are both very much into good wine and food, and with the beautiful scenery I know we can not go wrong. But oh how to narrow this down? I love champagne, so sparkling wine tour/tasting would be on my list. We are open to trying different wines but mostly drink Cabs and Sauvignon Blanc.

I would love to see some tours so we will probably start with Mondavi on our first day (Monday). The caves at Del Dotto sound spectacular so maybe we will do that on one day. I have also heard a lot about the scenery of Artesa, Domaine Carneros and Domaine Chandon. So those definitely make the list. Friends recommended Sterling (for the tour), La Costella de Ameroso (for the beautiful castle), Duckhorn (for the wine) and Mumm.

Any recommendations? I wrote down several lists from TA and I am just trying to narrow them down from here. How do you typically recommend people to narrow them?

Should we pick a few for the tours, another for the caves, then scenery, then ones that have our favorite wines, and lastly some to try outside our norm? We have several days so we are not limited on time. I know the recommendation is 3-4 per day with a nice little lunch in between. I love the idea of bringing something and having a picnic at a winery for one or two days . And the oxbow market for another. But I would like to add in there some activities.

I would really like to do a napa valley bike tour, and we have been throwing around the idea of a balloon ride. We are very much into outdoors activities so hiking and kayaking would be great too. But we want to make sure we do the things in Napa that we can not do at home.

Sorry for such a long post, we appreciate any help you can offer. Thank you so much in advance!

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1. Re: Putting it all together- Anniversary trip in July

Also in the Calistoga area is Chateau Montelena,you may want to add this one to your list. :)

Napa, CA
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2. Re: Putting it all together- Anniversary trip in July

Hi Dani,

Welcome to the Napa forums-- and happy anniversary! :)

It's easy to get totally overloaded when planning a wine country trip.

Please don't!

Most folks who hang out on TA are planners by nature-- we love to read about an area ahead of time, and figure out where we want to visit and explore (and we *love* that you've read Moveable Thirst-- it's our favorite resource for a visit to Napa! :)

OK, we're about to make this all MUCH easier for you:

Feel free to ask questions here, and search the amazing trip reports for ideas:


BUT-- here is your #1 source of making your trip easier:

Your innkeepers (where you're staying).

Unlike other parts of the country, where a concierge is used for a few minutes on your way out to dinner-- here, in the wine country-- a concierge is an integral, and essential, part of planning an amazing trip.

Your innkeeper/concierge will work *with* you (so you are still part of the fun!). They'll ask lots of questions, and give you all kinds of suggestions. And they'll draw up maps for you, and give you lots of tips and even passes for complimentary tastings at wineries.

But most important-- they'll plan a full itinerary for you, based on your feedback, that doesn't have you driving back and forth, or waiting in line for hours, or worse.

Napa Valley innkeepers/concierges have a reputation for being some of the most friendly and knowledgeable people in the world, when it comes to trip planning.

And the best, best news?

All of these services are FREE-- they are included in the cost of your stay!

So don't worry about taking lots of your concierge's/innkeeper's time-- Prior to their arrival, we typically spend several hours w/each guest (via emails and phone calls), helping them plan their trips.

So GO FOR IT! Call (or better yet-- email) your concierge/innkeeper today, and tell them what's important to you-- the wineries, places where you'd like to tour, what to do about bike rides, or balloon rides-- and--- where to eat!

We know you'll love doing this-- planning a great trip is all part of the fun, for most of us. :)

Have a great anniversary-- and-- a wonderful time in the Napa Valley. It's a very special place. :)


-The Innkeepers

Napa Old World Inn

Edited: 30 May 2011, 03:19
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3. Re: Putting it all together- Anniversary trip in July

Thank you so much! I should have thought to do that sooner! I will call then this week. I was wondering if you would giving me any suggestion on the travel day though?

Thank you again, we have made so many wonderful plans from trip advisor for this trip and many others so I am grateful! Have a nice holiday weekend!

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4. Re: Putting it all together- Anniversary trip in July

It takes about an hour to get from San Francisco to Napa. Neither Sonoma or Calistoga are on the way. You could easily make a detour to Sonoma if you take 101 to 37 to 116 to 121/12. You will go through a small section of Sonoma County, and be on the cusp of Sonoma Town. Plus- it's a beautiful drive as you will go over the Golden Gate Bridge and through the Carneros district. If you do go that way- you might want to go ahead and do a tasting at Domaine Carneros and Artesa on your way into Napa.

Calistoga is north Napa Valley. Castello Di Amorosa and Sterling are in Calistoga - so save those for a day trip. As OWI mentioned, your concierge should be able to help you put together an itinerary that makes sense, and will probably have some discount coupons.

Next to the Westin is the Oxbow District. Napa Valley Adventure Tours is right next door to the Westin and a part of the Oxbow District- they're a great source for kayaking and biking in Napa- http://www.napavalleyadventuretours.com.

Happy Anniversary and have a wonderful time!

Edited: 30 May 2011, 16:19
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5. Re: Putting it all together- Anniversary trip in July

Thank you so much for your replies! I think we will do just what you said and maybe do some tastings on the way to napa, sounds like a nice way to see a little more of California that we might have missed :)

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6. Re: Putting it all together- Anniversary trip in July

Going to the town of Sonoma on your way to Napa is a good idea. It is a charming historic town, built around an 11-acre Plaza during the Mexican era. There are several wineries near town, actually some ow them within walking distance. It is a minor detour from your route to Napa.

To get there you do not need Hwy 116. Just go north on Hwy 101 to Hwy 37, marked Napa/.Vallejo. 7 miles later, at the second traffic light, turn left onto 121. This would lead you to Napa. For the short detour, watch for the turnoff for Hwy 12 and you will be in the town of Sonoma in a couple of miles. On your way on this route you will pass the winery Vianza, and the Gloria Ferrer champagne cellars.

To get to Napa, just retrace your steps to Hwy 121 and turn left. and follow that into Napa. This takes you through the Carneros region, with more wineries. However, there is a short cut. As you leave Sonoma, going south you will come to a traffic light at Napa Road. Turn left there and you will be 8 miles from Highway 29, turn right for two miles and you are in Napa.

Happy anniversary. Enjoy your tipr.

7. Re: Putting it all together- Anniversary trip in July

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