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hi all, I have spent alot of time lurking and think I only have one post to my name here. (I keep going back and forth on buying a GTO have a firebird right now) anyway I was thinking there might be a few folks on this board who would have some useful info so I thought I'd post. Here is the deal:

I was wondering if we have any folks who have spent some time in the CA wine country? I'm trying to figure out what I want to do for lodging for our honeymoon in june. (fiancee put me in charge of the honeymoon and we have decided on doing the wine country thing) I have done quite a bit of looking and i have an idea for prices and such and am trying to figure out if I want to stay in Napa, Sonoma, one of the other small towns or get a place out in the country. Cost isn't too big of a deal within reason. Thankfully the airfare to S.F. is cheap so we can splurge a bit on the room. The biggest decision is to stay in either Sonoma or Napa and be within walking distance of some stuff or be out in the country where we have to jump in the car and drive to everything. We will be doing some driving no matter what but I'm trying to figure out if I want the convenience of being able to walk down the street and get food or have to plan a little more but have the seclusion of a place in the country (not to mention a hot tub with no prying eyes or noise)

anyone out there have any suggestions for places to stay things to do or anyone done the in town vs country thing?
 

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I live in Northern California and spend a great deal of time in the Wine Country.

Sonoma's OK to visit wineries. As a general rule of thumb, forget about staying or eating there. Napa's the place to be. For lodging, stay at the Carneros Inn and book time in the spa. Their Boon Fly Cafe is great for breakfast -- and they've got a really cool new restaurant called Farm. You will not be disappointed. The place draws a younger crowd -- so there's always some interesting things happening around the pool. Ask the desk attendant in the spa for some "horse cookies" then go and feed the horses and cows over by the fence. It's a hoot.

You could also stay at the Vintage Inn in Yountville. Not as nice, but very solid. Their spa, run in conjunction with Villagio's, kind of sucks, though. Their room rate includes a really good breakfast. Avoid the Calistoga Ranch. Costs a fortune and you are relentlessly paying tips because you have to take a shuttle to get anywhere -- and they make you valet park your car. That said, their restaurant, the Lakehouse, is truly amazing as is their spa. If you do stay there and do have dinner there, ask Dave, their wine steward, to make some suggestions for winery visits, etc.

Meadowood and Auberge de Soleil are both over the hill. There's a family run place called the Cottages of Napa Valley. Really cute. Sort of like a bed and breakfast. Speaking of B&B's, Deer Run in St. Helena's very cool. Stay in the separate cottage up the hill -- so you won't have to eat breakfast with a bunch of other morons talking your ear off about their great sales jobs. If money's no object, all I have to say is Poetry Inn -- where $600 a night puts you in the cheap seats. You want one choice? Carneros Inn.

Wineries. Domaine Carneros. Great sparklers, fun staff, nice view. Best sparkling wine tour is at Domaine Chandon. Best still wine tour is at Robert Mondavi. Best wine tasting is the Beaulieu Vineyards' Georges LaTour tasting room. You pay $25 for several different samples of really good stuff. Silver Oak is totally overrated and for chumps. Frank Family and Rombauer make terrific wines -- but their tasting rooms are overrun with snobs. Viansa's awesome. Go around lunch time, get a bottle and have lunch on their terrace. Hess Collection has a really cool winery with a great art collection. Chateau Potelle's neat, too. Really small -- yet their VGS Chardonnays and Zinfadels are world class.

Food. Boon Fly at Carneros Inn for breakfast. Rutherford Grill for lunch or dinner. Everything else, like French Laundry, Martini House, and a few that I can't think of right now, are loaded with snobs.

If you're stocking your cellar, don't buy in Wine Country. The winery prices are really high. Go to K&L wines in San Francisco or, better yet, Beltramo's in Palo Alto. I shop at Beltramo's. Their prices are great -- and if you explain the kinds of wines you're looking for -- they'll set you up with a nice series of bottles. Here's an idea: talk to a buyer about getting a few magnums of a hearty red wine from the 2007 vintage. That way, you can cellar it and open them on your 5th, 10th, 15th and 20th anniversaries. Of course, they won't be for sale yet -- but do explore for planning purposes.

Wines I like right now: Domaine Carneros Brut and Le Reve. Best in class and reasonably priced. Orin Swift's Claret "The Prisoner." A $60 bottle that sells for under $30. Get it now before they get found out and totally overrun. St. Francis 2004 Old Vines Zinfandel. A $50 bottle that sells for $15 at the right places. ZD's 2004 or 2005 Chardonnay. Pricey at $30 or more, but, when properly served, is absolutely incredible. If you want to spend, you really can't go wrong with Far Niente Cabernets. Forget Opus One and Screaming Eagle. Overpriced. I really like some of Beringer's higher end wines, too.

I could go on and on -- but I've got stuff to do. Good luck.
 

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Last year when we were at the track in Sonoma, my wife and a couple of friends came for the race weekend. We rented a car and drove around the area, went to a few vineyards for wine and cheese, (recommended !) and then down to Frisco for dinner. It's one of my favorite races on the circuit and a great place to play. San Rafael ( just North of Frisco ) had some excellent restuarants and a killer street fair. We also drove up the coast after going to Muirs woods and enjoyed a nice quiet beach walk, but I don't recall the name of the town. Anyway, have a great time, there's lots to do and see.:party:
 

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^ Probably Mendocino.

If you're spending a week or so in Northern California, yes, the best thing is to spend a couple of days in Napa, a couple of days in San Francisco, a couple of days in Carmel, a couple of days in Tahoe, etc.
 

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I live in Northern California and spend a great deal of time in the Wine Country.

Sonoma's OK to visit wineries. As a general rule of thumb, forget about staying or eating there. Napa's the place to be. For lodging, stay at the Carneros Inn and book time in the spa. Their Boon Fly Cafe is great for breakfast -- and they've got a really cool new restaurant called Farm. You will not be disappointed. The place draws a younger crowd -- so there's always some interesting things happening around the pool. Ask the desk attendant in the spa for some "horse cookies" then go and feed the horses and cows over by the fence. It's a hoot.

You could also stay at the Vintage Inn in Yountville. Not as nice, but very solid. Their spa, run in conjunction with Villagio's, kind of sucks, though. Their room rate includes a really good breakfast. Avoid the Calistoga Ranch. Costs a fortune and you are relentlessly paying tips because you have to take a shuttle to get anywhere -- and they make you valet park your car. That said, their restaurant, the Lakehouse, is truly amazing as is their spa. If you do stay there and do have dinner there, ask Dave, their wine steward, to make some suggestions for winery visits, etc.

Meadowood and Auberge de Soleil are both over the hill. There's a family run place called the Cottages of Napa Valley. Really cute. Sort of like a bed and breakfast. Speaking of B&B's, Deer Run in St. Helena's very cool. Stay in the separate cottage up the hill -- so you won't have to eat breakfast with a bunch of other morons talking your ear off about their great sales jobs. If money's no object, all I have to say is Poetry Inn -- where $600 a night puts you in the cheap seats. You want one choice? Carneros Inn.

Wineries. Domaine Carneros. Great sparklers, fun staff, nice view. Best sparkling wine tour is at Domaine Chandon. Best still wine tour is at Robert Mondavi. Best wine tasting is the Beaulieu Vineyards' Georges LaTour tasting room. You pay $25 for several different samples of really good stuff. Silver Oak is totally overrated and for chumps. Frank Family and Rombauer make terrific wines -- but their tasting rooms are overrun with snobs. Viansa's awesome. Go around lunch time, get a bottle and have lunch on their terrace. Hess Collection has a really cool winery with a great art collection. Chateau Potelle's neat, too. Really small -- yet their VGS Chardonnays and Zinfadels are world class.

Food. Boon Fly at Carneros Inn for breakfast. Rutherford Grill for lunch or dinner. Everything else, like French Laundry, Martini House, and a few that I can't think of right now, are loaded with snobs.

If you're stocking your cellar, don't buy in Wine Country. The winery prices are really high. Go to K&L wines in San Francisco or, better yet, Beltramo's in Palo Alto. I shop at Beltramo's. Their prices are great -- and if you explain the kinds of wines you're looking for -- they'll set you up with a nice series of bottles. Here's an idea: talk to a buyer about getting a few magnums of a hearty red wine from the 2007 vintage. That way, you can cellar it and open them on your 5th, 10th, 15th and 20th anniversaries. Of course, they won't be for sale yet -- but do explore for planning purposes.

Wines I like right now: Domaine Carneros Brut and Le Reve. Best in class and reasonably priced. Orin Swift's Claret "The Prisoner." A $60 bottle that sells for under $30. Get it now before they get found out and totally overrun. St. Francis 2004 Old Vines Zinfandel. A $50 bottle that sells for $15 at the right places. ZD's 2004 or 2005 Chardonnay. Pricey at $30 or more, but, when properly served, is absolutely incredible. If you want to spend, you really can't go wrong with Far Niente Cabernets. Forget Opus One and Screaming Eagle. Overpriced. I really like some of Beringer's higher end wines, too.

I could go on and on -- but I've got stuff to do. Good luck.
B_A Hit it right on the spot!!!

I went out with a girl that worked @ Auberge de soleil
Very nice place Good food!!!

Drove my Denali there and it looked like a Geo compared to all the other cars they had there
 
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