10 Reasons to Choose Napa Valley over Sonoma Valley for a Wine Vacation

Posted by Tom Wark on May 20, 2014

Logistics First: Both Valleys run parallel to each other on a relatively North-South axis and are separated by the Mayacamas Mountain range. You can drive from one to the other in no more than a half hour. Each is roughly 50 minutes north of San Francisco.

1. The Food
You’d be hard pressed to find a way to justify not putting Napa Valley on a Top-5 list of The Most Great Restaurants Per Capita in the United States. The Napa Valley might even be #1. If you want to engage in a series of great meals, you’ll choose Napa Valley over Sonoma Valley

2. The Icons of American Wine Are in Napa Valley
Robert Mondavi, Beringer, Caymus, Screaming Eagle, Spottswoode, Chateau Montelena. You’d need a number of trips to the Valley just to visit all the iconic California wineries located in Napa Valley. This is where you go if you want to experience the pantheon of American wine.

3. The Hillside Drives
Sometimes people forget that in order to have a valley, you need hillsides. Napa Valley possess a series of unique mountain regions that each have roads heading up into them. These are special drives. You could spend five days in Napa Valley filled only with trips up Spring Mountain, Mount Veeder, Howell Mountain, Atlas Peak and Diamond Mountain without ever giving a second thought to the valley floor destinations.

4. The Resorts in Napa Valley Are First Class
Napa Valley knows how to do resort lodging. If you are looking for destination lodging, the kind of place where you don’t leave all day, receive first class pampering, eat stunning meals, gawk at the views and even want to stay in your room all day, you need to choose Napa Valley.

5. The Golfers Will Want to Choose Napa Valley Over Sonoma Valley
If you stay in the town of Yountville, you have a choice of ten golf courses that are within a half hour drive. In Sonoma Valley, you’ve got three. There is no question that if you want plan some golf between the wine tasting and eating, Napa Valley is your choice over Sonoma Valley.

6. Napa Valley is Ground Zero for the Greatest Cabernets Produced in America
If Cabernet Sauvignon is your thing, then you must choose Napa Valley over Sonoma Valley. The concentration of great Cabernet in Napa Valley is overwhelming. Nearly every winery in the Valley makes a wine from Cabernet grapes. You’ll pay for it. But you’ll never run out of different Cabs to try.

7. The Oxbow Market and Downtown Napa
The town of Napa at the southern end of the Valley used to be what we called a “drive by”. Unless you wanted to stay at the TravelLodge, there was no good reason to stop here on your way up Valley. Today, there is good reason to never leave. All the live entertainment is in Napa. The restaurant scene in Napa is spectacular and I’d argue rivals the former king of dining, Yountville. Then there is the Oxbow Market, a charming conglomeration of great food shops and restaurants under one roof. Nothing like this kind of city exists in Sonoma Valley.

8. The Architectural Wineries are Pretty Spectacular and Nothing Like Them is Found in Sonoma Valley
Some folks here in the Valley think they are cheesy tourist traps. But when you see Castello di Amarosa, Clos Pegase, Artesa, Chateau Montelena, Darioush, Domaine Carneros, Opus One or any other of the showcases up close, it’s hard not to be wowed. You could spend an entire week only touring the architectural showcase wineries and still not get to them all.

9. Soaring Over Napa Valley is Pretty Spectacular
Assuming you aren’t afraid of heights, the Hot Air Balloon rides over Napa can be a spectacular and memorable event that is not available in Sonoma Valley. Most of the balloons take off over Yountville and gently soar south, over vineyards and wineries in the early morning. It’s an event.

10. It’s Napa Valley
For many people, Napa Valley is a bucket list destination and for good reason. It’s beautiful, it’s iconic, the concentration of great food and wine is remarkable. It is America’s adult playground and that title is well-earned. Despite the other amazing wine regions strewn throughout the country, there is nothing like Napa Valley.

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