Most wineries start closing up their doors about four.
The ideal number of wineries to visit is 3.5. Three is a relaxed pace, no rush. With four, I have to keep you on a schedule. Five is possible, but it takes determination on everyone's part. With four and five be prepared to taste and spit and not finish each individually poured tasting. Both are a hard and seemingly impolite action to take - this is Napa, drink like a pro.
Eat a real breakfast or you’re going to flame-out. We’re talking protein with lots of white carbs. Coffee and a granola bar won’t cut it, you’re going to be on a marathon, not a bar crawl.
You'll have to call the pace you want to set.
Typically, a standard tasting goes from an hour to an hour and a half.
Tours/food pairings can go anywhere upwards of an hour and a half.
I'd also try to pick an area to concentrate on to limit travel time, unless the "must visit"
wineries on your list are spread out. I'd also make sure that your second or third stop can accommodate
a picnic. (Some wineries allow it and others don't. It’s a county permit issue.) Up-Valley, I like to to use Sunshine Foods for sandwiches and sides. In the City of Napa and Carneros I prefer Genova Delicatessen for sandwiches. It’s a full on Italian deli with staff wearing ties and an espresso bar.
We can pick up your lunch order on the way or I can run out while your are in your first or second stop.
Otherwise, there are any number of other deli's in the valley we can use.
Frank Family - is a favorite picnic spot Up-Valley.
Or for an up-valley sit down lunch try:
Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch - http://www.longmeadowranch.com/Farmstead/Restaurant
Gotts Roadside - http://gotts.com/ - Your lunch order can be called in so it will be waiting for you when you arrive.
Goose and Gander - http://www.goosegander.com/ - (all three of these locations are within a short walking distance - all in St. Helena)
Rutherford Grill - http://www.hillstone.com/rutherfordgrill/ about 10 minutes south of St. Helena and across the street from Inglenook.
Count on a lunch taking 90 minutes. You should preview the menu on-line and order when seated. Let your server know you are on a schedule and 60 minutes is usually possible.
A cocktail or glass of wine on the Auberge deck and its view are a "must do" during your up-valley visit: http://www.aubergedusoleil.com/napa-dining/bistro-and-bar
Cade - http://www.cadewinery.com/ - by appointment
Chateau Montelena - https://montelena.com/ - drop in weekdays, by appointment Friday and Saturday
Schramsburg - http://www.schramsberg.com/ - by appointment
Mumm - https://www.mummnapa.com/ - drop in
Frank Family Winery - http://www.frankfamilyvineyards.com/ - Fridays and weekends by appointment, drop-in's Monday through Thursdays, but call first as a courtesy. Pina - http://www.pinacellars.com/ - drop in / picnic grounds. The picnic area sports one of the best views in the valley. The winery is very small and spartan. They produce five unblended single vineyard cabernets and have outstanding hospitality.
Up-Valley and Off the Beaten Path:
Nichelini Family Winery - http://www.nicheliniwinery.com/ Napa’s oldest continuously family owned and run winery.
Kuleto Estate -http://www.kuletoestate.com/
South Napa Valley Favorites:
http://www.obrienestate.com/ -by appointment
http://www.fontanellawinery.com/ -by appointment
http://porterfamilyvineyards.com/ -by appointment
http://www.schugwinery.com/ - drop in
http://www.gunbun.com/ - by appointment http://www.saintsbury.com/ - by appointment https://www.cuvaison.com/ - by appointment.
This is just a starting point. There are upwards of 400 wineries in the valley offering their own atmosphere, spin and presentation on what is offered.
These are my favorite reference sources:
http://www.napawineproject.com/ - reviews individual wineries from an independent source. I feel it is well rounded.
https://preiserkey.com/wine/ - Preiser Wine Key is the phone book of the Napa valley, it lists all of the wineries with their phone numbers, hours, whether or not reservations are required and maps. I always keep copies in the car.
Google Maps for determining travel time between wineries.
I prefer using TripAdvisor - The civilian reviews strike the right tone with me. It is also my biggest unpaid referral source for business other than word of mouth.
I wrote this cheat sheet for a high school friend who was visiting San Francisco with her young adult daughter. Ahem… it is informal.
Wear walking shoes! Go light as possible on Jewelry, don't flash around that expensive handbag. Bring layered clothing: light jacket and medium sweater or vice versa. Especially and counterintuitively in summer. Bring a messenger bag or backpack to stash them in. Weather changes from neighborhood to neighborhood and sometimes hour to hour. Have a stash of one dollar bills or dollar coins for the bus, if not, have your Uber app ready to go. A car in San Francisco is a liability and parking is a supreme P.I.T.A. Yelp is your friend... get the app.
Ocean Beach: Lunch at either the Cliff House or the Beach Chalet at the bottom of Golden Gate park. Check out the dutch windmills nearby or take a long walk along the beach or explore the ruins of the Sutro Baths. The GG park is pretty amazing. You can rent a bicycle in the upper Haight and glide down to the beach without much effort. There is a great bicycle trail that runs from the bottom of the park to the Zoo.
Museums: The Palace of the Legion of Honor, as well as the De Young and Steinhart Aquarium in gg park on the West side of town. The Asian Art Museum and the SFMOMA on the other side of town.
Take a bay-side hike: Start at the ferry building (have breakfast there, the farmers market happens weekend mornings, walk the Embarcadero to Fisherman's Wharf, through Aquatic Park, Marina Greens, Crissy field, tour Fort Point (civil war era), walk across the Golden Gate, take a bus or Uber back. If you're driving be sure to visit Hawk Hill to enjoy the overlook of SF from Marin. Or rent bicycles and take the ferry back from either Tiburon or Sausalito. Have a glass of wine or a beer on the ferry on your trip back and enjoy the view. https://goo.gl/maps/bZ6hTws1Gn52
If you want to go to Alcatraz you need to pre book your ferry ride now, it is tourist season. Skip the aquarium on the boardwalk, but do go to the Exploratorium instead. https://www.exploratorium.edu/ Check out the http://museemecaniquesf.com/. Be sure to take a quick tour of the USS Pampanito WWII submarine next door to the Musee Mecanique. https://maritime.org/uss-pampanito/
In North beach: be sure to check out City Lights Bookstore at Broadway and Columbus. http://www.citylights.com/ Get a cappuccino at Cafe Trieste and read the beat poetry anthology you just purchased at city lights. http://coffee.caffetrieste.com/ If the beatnicks aren't your scene go to Cafe Greco to watch the neighborhood pass by. http://www.caffegreco.com/
City Hike: Start at union square, walk across China Town on Grant street, through to North Beach, take a bus up to Coit tower and go to the top, get a meatball sandwich at Mario's Bohemian Cigar shop, or grab a sandwich at Molinari's and eat it at Washington Square. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60713-d480582-Reviews-Mario_s_Bohemian_Cigar_Store_and_Cafe-San_Francisco_California.html ::::&:::: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g60713-d879230-Reviews-Molinari_Delicatessen-San_Francisco_California.html?m=19905
You can hop the Union street bus right there to go over the hill to the Union street shopping district and cut over to Chestnut on Filmore to continue shopping. Or you can take the Fillmore bus over to Japan Town. Check out the grocery store, have lunch or go to the Daiso which is the Japanese $1 store which is amazingly cool and an excellent place to load up on souvenir crap. https://goo.gl/maps/qW78RYoM43r https://goo.gl/maps/yBT4SzzpQa72 http://www.nijiya.com/ http://www.daisojapan.com/
In the Mission: Check out 24th street between Mission and about Bryant, Mission between 24th and 21st, cut over to Valencia continue on valencia to 16th. Walk up 16th to Market and a few more blocks to the Castro. See a movie at the Castro Theater in the evening. It is the oldest and most successful repertory movie house in the United States and an amazing architectural gem. Often the Wurlitzer organ will be played before the movie which is astounding. http://www.castrotheatre.com/ The tech boom is centered in the Mission and that is where the cool restaurants and nightlife are now. http://dalvasf.com/ - a bar I helped open in the early 90’s, https://paxtongate.com/paxton/ - has to be the coolest shop in San Francisco, https://shop.826valencia.org/ - the second coolest shop in San francisco a few feet away from Paxton Gate
Take a walk through the upper Haight between Masonic and Golden Gate park. Check out Loved to Death. The owner is a former employee and friend who is featured on Oddities TV series.... https://www.lovedtodeath.com/
Get a nose piercing, a souvenir neck tattoo and an all black outfit on the same block.
Now that your feet ache from walking, take a drive down highway 1 to Santa Cruz or up to Bodega Bay via Stinson Beach along the coast, cut inland to return on 101 either way. https://goo.gl/maps/9PfpczcddxP2
Be sure to make a side trip to Point Reyes Lighthouse - https://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/lighthouse.htm (The lighthouse is closed for restoration through the end of 2019)