12 Top Napa Valley Wineries to Visit2019-08-04
Set your sights on these can’t-miss wineries during your next visit to California’s wine country.
Whether you want to indulge in deep reds or sip crisp whites, these gorgeous Napa Valley wineries will help you do it in style.
From its rich cabernets to its flavorful pinots, Napa Valley is renowned for incredible wine. But the wineries in this area offer more than just their outstanding varietals. Oenophiles can enjoy beautiful grounds with European-inspired architecture, lush vineyard views and unique art installations. To help you choose which properties to visit during your next wine country trip, U.S. News rounded up a list of Napa Valley’s best wineries. Read on to see which properties are sure to leave a lasting impression.
Rutherford Hill Winery: Rutherford
Head off the Silverado Trail, a popular route in the Napa Valley area, to experience Rutherford Hill Winery. This property is known for its full-flavored merlots, which are said to have a chocolate or coffee taste. The beautiful estate is perched on a hill overlooking a valley on the grounds of a nearly 100-year-old olive grove. It also features mile-long caves that house thousands of barrels of maturing wine. Go on a cave tour, which is available multiple times daily (reservations recommended), before enjoying a bring-your-own picnic lunch in the Oak Grove picnic area. Wine tastings start at $30 per person.
Chateau Montelena Winery: Calistoga
For an uber-romantic experience, stop by Chateau Montelena Winery to explore its dreamy Calistoga grounds and robust wine offerings. Set against Mount Saint Helena, the chateau was built in 1888 to resemble the gatehouse of an English Gothic castle. The structure overlooks a Chinese garden, a lake and the property’s vineyards, which are ideal for a romantic stroll. Wine tastings start at $40 per person and range from walk-in options to tastings that accompany an estate or vineyard tour. Must-try wines here include the property’s chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon varieties.
Clos Pegase: Calistoga
Located less than 3 miles southeast of downtown Calistoga, Clos Pegase offers 20,000 square feet of wine caves, vineyards and a tasting room overlooking a garden. Renowned for its iconic postmodern design by architect Michael Graves, the estate is set on a volcanic knoll and contains both the winery and a residence. Visitors will be dazzled by the property’s grand entrance, open roof and cypress-lined courtyard. Red wines to try at Clos Pegase include pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon, while rosé and white wines like chardonnay and sauvignon blanc are crowd pleasers as well. Tastings cost at least $30 per person.
Chimney Rock: Napa
Situated on the Silverado Trail in the Stags Leap District, Chimney Rock features Cape Dutch architecture, which is prominent in Cape Town, Stellenbosch and other Western Cape locales in South Africa. The style includes white stucco exteriors and other distinct elements. Be sure to view the property’s ornate wall sculpture of Ganymede – known in Greek mythology as the cupbearer to the gods – from the courtyard of the tasting room. Highly regarded for its cabernet sauvignon, Chimney Rock offers a variety of tours with tastings, including a tour of the estate vineyards that provides an overview about winemaking, an estate tour where you can taste wine directly from a barrel and a private tour that ends with a casual lunch. The least expensive option, the Estate Tasting, costs $50 per person.
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars: Napa
Head to Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in the city of Napa for a lesson in wine history. Founded in 1970, the company took home the top prize for its cabernet sauvignon in the 1976 Judgement of Paris wine competition. Today, Stag’s Leap offers multiple tasting options and is best known for its sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon and merlot vinos. On-site experiences include a wine and food pairing with dishes created by chef Travis Westrope, a tour of the winery and a cave tour through some of the property’s more than 34,000 square feet of tunnels, which are centered around a rare Foucault pendulum. Tastings range from $45 to $175 per person.
Castello di Amorosa: Calistoga
For a wine tasting fit for royalty, stop by Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga. The estate’s medieval, Tuscan-style castle features five towers, 100-plus rooms (95 of which are devoted to winemaking) and 1,000-pound doors made in Italy. Plus, the regal property boasts a church, a drawbridge, secret passageways and a loggia, and it has hosted famous visitors like actors Robert Redford and Arnold Schwarzenegger, football star Joe Montana and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani. At Castello di Amorosa, oenophiles have access to a variety of tours and tastings, some of which are paired with cheeses or chocolates. The winery produces all kinds of vinos, including pinot grigio, pinot noir and a Super Tuscan blend. Take a self-guided castle tour and enjoy five wine tastings for $30.
Domaine Carneros: Napa
Sip wine in a French-inspired chateau at Domaine Carneros, which resembles the 18th-century Château de la Marquetterie in Champagne, France. Enjoy a reservation-only tasting on a terrace that overlooks Napa Valley, or take a seat in the property’s salon for table service. The winery’s award-winning sparkling wine and pinot noir are standard crowd-pleasers, but those seeking an even more special experience should pay for the Art of Sparkling Wine Pairing or the Sparkling Suite tasting. Each option pairs the bubbly beverages with Asian-themed food or caviar and charcuterie, respectively. Standard wine tastings, which start at $35 per person, are also available daily.
Sterling Vineyards: Calistoga
Hilltop Sterling Vineyards not only offers visitors fine California wine – including a highly regarded cabernet sauvignon – but also fantastic Napa Valley views from its aerial tram (the only one of its kind in the area). This makes Sterling Vineyards a great stop for families with children. The tram ride, which departs every half-hour between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., costs $20 for visitors ages 3 through 20. Guests 21 and older will pay $35 each to ride the tram; the pricier rate also includes a wine tasting and a self-guided tour of the premises. Inspired by the Greek island of Mykonos, the winery features towers with bells from London’s Church of St. Dunstan in the East.
Francis Ford Coppola and Eleanor Coppola own this winery and chateau in Rutherford. Founded in 1879, Inglenook is home to The Bistro tasting room, caves and a courtyard with a reflecting pool. Kids can sail wooden sailboats in the fountain while adults enjoy tastings paired with artisanal cheeses. Additional experiences like a walking tour of the estate followed by a tasting in a wine cave, and a property tour during a Napa Valley Wine Train outing are available as well. Wine tastings start at $55 per person and may include a sample of the property’s signature wine, Rubicon, which is made from cabernet sauvignon grapes originally planted here in the 1880s. The winery also produces wines like syrah and sauvignon blanc. Keep in mind, Inglenook does not permit picnicking.
Robert Mondavi Winery: Oakville
Best known for its cabernet sauvignon wine and signature Fumé Blanc variety (which is made from sauvignon blanc grapes), Oakville’s Robert Mondavi Winery features many unique ways to sample wine and explore its grounds. Patrons can enjoy walk-in tastings starting at $25 per wine flight. Or, oenophiles can spend their visits biking through the vineyard, perusing the property’s art collection, seeing the grounds during a twilight tour or eating lunch or dinner paired with several wines. The Mission-style winery, which mimics the old Spanish missions found throughout California, also hosts a concert series every summer.
Del Dotto Estate: St. Helena
At this Venetian-style estate, wine lovers can sample varietals like cabernet sauvignon and the property’s signature vino, The Beast. Del Dotto Estate in St. Helena honors the Del Dotto family’s heritage, with elegant wine caves fitted with Italian marble and large chandeliers. In the caves, visitors can enjoy barrel tastings by candlelight with pairings of cheese, chocolate and even pizza. For those with less time to spare, the property offers a 30-minute bar tasting that includes five wine samples and costs $45 per person. But remember, this experience does not take place inside the caves.
HALL St. Helena: St. Helena
Art lovers would be remiss to leave Napa Valley without visiting HALL St. Helena, a winery that mixes modern artwork with fine wines. To fully immerse yourself in the property’s art, book the HALLmark tour, which includes a tour of the grounds and more information about winemaking and some of the winery’s artwork. At the end of the tour, you’ll enjoy a seated tasting of four award-winning wines in a private salon. The estate is known for its cabernet sauvignon, merlot and sauvignon blanc varieties. If you’re a fan of cabernet sauvignon, book the Ultimate Cabernet experience to sample some of the vineyard’s best cabernets. Standard wine tastings start at $50 per person, and reservations are recommended.
Courtesy of USNews