Well, this is what you are here for right? There are any number of ways to approach this from group tours to personalized tours to DIY tours. We prefer the DIY approach because you can go at your own pace and select the wineries that appeal to you.
With over 400 wineries in the valley, you will still need a plan. First rule is that this is a long distance race, not a sprint. Can’t understand the people who boast about how many wineries they visited in a day. What s the point? Most knowledgeable people will agree that you should visit no more than 3-4 wineries per day, so 1 in the morning (most open at 10am) and 2-3 in the afternoon.
We have three criteria when we are wine tasting;
1. The wines must be highly rated 90+
2. The wines must be available for purchase at home. If I really like something, I want to be able to buy it. The only caveat here is if a wine is truly special and this is an opportunity to taste it
even if it is not readily available.
3. The tasting experience has to be unique in what it offers; maybe a food pairing, maybe lunch, maybe a killer view, maybe an incredible tasting room.
Virtually all wineries require reservations and charge a tasting fee.
Here are recommendations by AVA. Excellent wine is a given, so we ll highlight what else is special.
Castello di Amorosa – Authentically-built, 13th century inspired Tuscan castle
Chateau Montelena Gorgeous chateau and grounds. Winner of Judgment in Paris 1976.
Sterling Vineyards. Take a gondola to the vineyard 300 feet above the town.
Darioush. Remarkable architecture and grounds.
Far Niente. 13 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, wine caves
and a beautiful tasting room. Antique car collection.
Opus One The grounds are beautiful, but in this case it is about the wine. $50 gets you a glass of this incredible wine.
Robert Mondavi. The Godfather of Napa wine. This state-of-the-art facility is what modern wine making is all about.
Silver Oak Beautiful facility, amazing wine. The favorite cab of many.
Beaulieu. An opportunity to taste the Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
Rutherford Hill. Best picnic site in the valley. Must purchase their wines to use the picnic area, but they are delicious.
St. Supery. Great introduction to wine and wine tasting. Explore wine aromas suggestive of fruit character, barrel aging and terroir while tasting four estate grown St. Supéry wines. Exercise your sense of smell through a series of aroma identifications designed for you to discover how your personal sensory memory impacts how you recognize aromas.
Spring Mountain. Beautiful mountain top winery. Backdrop for the 80 s TV show Falcon Crest.
Chappellet.Spectacular views of the valley from high atop Pritchard Hill
Beringer. Dramatic Tudor style tasting room. Food and wine pairings.
Joseph Phelps. Wonderful outside terrace looking down over the valley. Be sure to taste the Insignia Cab.
Heitz Cellar. An opportunity to taste the Martha s Vineyard Cabernet
Spottswoode. Organically farmed, owned and run by women. Best Sauvignon Blanc I ever had.
Buehler. The drive up the mountain is worth the trip alone. Best Cab anywhere for the money. Spectacular views.
Stags Leap Wine Cellars. Winery that beat the French in the Judgment of Paris in 1976.
Pine Ridge. Spectacular setting and delicious Bordeaux style wines.
Shafer. Gorgeous facility. Hillside Select one of the world’s greatest wines.
Domaine Chandon – founded in 1973 by Moet & Chandon. Exceptional sparkling wine. Beautiful grounds.
Del Dotto. Incredible caves and barrel tastings. Visit the Napa location.
For a truly unique experience contact Ania at Wine Country Concierge. She can get you into wineries that are not open to the public.
Napa River Trail is a 3.5 mile trek with some great scenery. Click here for a map. Under construction is the Napa Valley Vine Trail, which looks to be as wonderful as Stowe, Vermont s Recreation Path when completed. Skyline Park is another option. Bikes are available for rent at St. Helena Cyclery
Golf is available to guests of Meadowood and Silverado (home of the Safeway, PGA Tournament) resorts. Eagle Vines is a challenging public course set amid vineyards and designed by Johnny Miller. 6th hole island green.
Available at resorts like Meadowood and Silverado or at Napa Valley Tennis Courts, when not in use by the college.
Hot Air Ballooning
This is an extraordinary experience and one not to be missed. It is expensive but the scenery is breathtaking particularly in the early morning when the balloons go up. We recommend Balloons Above the Valley. Starts with Starbucks coffee & fresh pastries baked daily from Sweetie Pies and ends with a Champagne brunch. $199pp
For such a relatively small area there are ton of available tours ranging from $99 trolley tours to bike tours, horseback riding tours, to chauffeured limousines to food tours and to your own personal wine country concierge. Platypus is a very popular tour company.
These wineries are also know for their art collections:
These galleries are also worth visiting
There are countless stores and boutiques throughout the valley, but here are some favorites; The Spice Islands Marketplace at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, everything for the foodie and amateur chef; Oxbow Public Market in Napa, music, food, wine, beer tastings fun fun .; NapaStyle in Yountville, Founded by Napa Valley chef, vintner, TV host and author, Michael Chiarello, NapaStyle showcases an eclectic mix of handcrafted and exclusive home goods and artisanal specialty foods; Lucerno Olive Oil in Napa, California grown olive products; The Napa Valley Store in Napa, products made by talented Napa Valley artisans; Napa General Store in Napa, cool wine related products.
Napa Farmer’s Market – Tuesdays and Saturdays
St. Helena Farmer’s Market – Fridays
Oxbow Public Market – Daily
A multi-stage event celebrating music, food, wine and beer in the heart of Napa Valley. Attendees will enjoy a three-day event; spread over 26 acres and featuring some of the country s best performers while enjoying the area s finest vintners and culinary talent.
Auction Napa Valley – June
Napa Valley Vintners annual fundraiser, where wine lover and winemaker meet at the source of America’s legendary wines to partake in and celebrate the best Napa Valley has to offer
Festival del Sole
Featuring concerts by some of the world s most celebrated musical artists, five-star cuisine, art exhibits and wines from Napa s top vintners, blended in a unique celebration of the art of life.
Shakespeare in the Park
Enjoy a stellar cast in productions of the Bard under the stars.
Flavor! Napa Valley
Flavor! Napa Valley, a celebration of wine, food & fun, features legendary food and wine talents of the Napa Valley for a five-day series of epicurean and oenophile.
The Napa Valley Film Festival Nov
Featuring new independent films; studio sneak previews; conversations with the attending directors, actors, producers and writers; festivities; Tribute and Awards Programs; wine tasting pavilions and culinary demonstrations and much more.
Napa Valley Restaurant Month Jan
With set-price menus for lunch and dinner, and optional Napa Valley wine pairings, there are countless opportunities to indulge.
Napa Truffle Festival
North America s premier truffle event.