20 Great Wineries In Napa Valley.
Planning Your Trip To the Wineries
Napa Valley is the premiere wine area of California. There are over 240 wineries in the area of Napa Valley. The valley consist of a number of towns and the town of Napa is at the southern end. There are also the towns of Yountville, Rutherford, Oakville, St Helena, and at the far north end of the valley is the town of Calistoga.
There are a lot of wineries to choose from and this is where you will need to do some research. For instance, are there wines that you drink, that are from the area? How about talking with friends that have been to the Napa area and ask them which ones they enjoyed? Maybe you read something in a wine magazine or maybe an article in a travel magazine. Maybe you just watched the movie "Bottle Shock" and are interested in that winery; and yes it is in Napa Valley up in the Calistoga area. If you are just going to be there for a day you can still cover the area but will have to limit yourself to maybe 4 to 5 wineries. Getting from one end of the valley to the other may take some time if it is during the weekend due to traffic. If you are planning a couple of days you will be able to expand your options. My advice would be to start at one end and go from there. Have your stops figured out and do this according on the number of days you will be there. I have stayed in Calistoga and had no problem getting to the wineries I wanted to see from one end of the valley to the other. I was there two days and did the northern end my first day. One my second day did the southern half so when I finished for the day the road I wanted was within a few miles. Now what you need to do is get a map of Napa Valley that has the wineries on it.
- Before heading out, eat a nice breakfast. Remember you will be tasting wine and will need some food on your stomach before you start. I also carry a bottle or two of water in the car. Keep yourself hydrated especially if it is hot out. When wine tasting some or most wineries will have crackers maybe with some cheese and it is a good not only to cleanse the palate but keeps a little food in you. Many wineries have picnic areas. Take advantage of this with some cheese, crackers and maybe some olives. This way you have a little rest, eat and enjoy your surroundings.
- It is okay for you to dump your wine after a few sips; there should be a few buckets around where the tasting is going on. If you drink every bit of wine at each winery you will be tipsy before you get to dinner.
- Have a designated driver that either doesn't indulge at all or has very little. If you have some money to burn, rent a limo with a driver. Be safe when driving.
- Keep notes of the wines you taste for reference later. Believe me after a few days you will not remember what you liked or disliked. One can't possibly buy every bottle of wine they like. I know my Mother tries each time she is there.
- Some wines are only sold at the winery, you may want to ask.
The one thing that I can't stress enough is to have a good time. Some places will be crowded, and the roads may be busy; so relax. There are great experiences to have and this is one of them. You will drink good wine and meet some good people when traveling around Napa. My daughter will tell you that you might meet a nice dog or cat while browsing around a winery. It is a beautiful part of California and one should enjoy what it has to offer.
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The Wineries of Napa Valley.
I can not possible go over all the wineries in Napa Valley it would take way too long. I will share with you the one's I have been too. I will list them by which town they reside in.
- Chimney Rock Winery: a little off the beaten path but worth the visit. Friendly and informative servers will make this a nice stop. The tasting room is in a very charming building. Open 10 to 5.
- Saintsbury: their Pinot Noir is one of my favorites. They have beautiful grounds and a friendly staff. They are by appointment only but very easy to get in during the week Monday through Friday. This is a county thing and not done to inconvenience you.
- Steltzner Vineyards: Mediterranean building greets you as you walk up. Walk around and visit the caves and what the winery has to offer. They also have a small patio area for picnics. For groups of 6 or less it is $10 each. Open 10 to 4:30.
- Robert Sinskey Vineyards: at this winery you can do a food and wine pairing. They do an excellent job of pairing up foods to certain types of wine. A unique experience. Limited production. Open 10 to 4:30 and cost $20 but $15 is refundable if you buy two bottles of wine. Cave tour is $30 and the culinary tour is $50 both have $15 refundable if you buy two or more bottles of wine.
- Goosecross Cellars: another great winery in the Yountville area. I have known people that go to this winery every time they are in the area. Great staff and friendly atmosphere welcomes you every time you visit. Their Syrah is wonderful. Open 10 to 4.
- Folie a Deux Winery: this winery was my first introduction to Napa and became one of my favorites. Good wine, good staff, can't go wrong by visiting. Reasonably priced wines that are good. Open 10 to 6.
- ZD Winery: wines are affordable and tasting fees run from $10 to $15. Open 10 to 4:30.
- Grgich Hills Winery: enjoy good conversation while tasting good one. Open 9:30 to 4:30.
- St. Supery Winery: one of my favorite wines, their Merlot is one I like to drink. Open daily and tasting is $15 to $25.
- Sequoia Grove Winery: I have been a long time fan of this winery set amongst the trees. I am a red wine drinker and they do make some good ones but they also make a nice Gewurztraminer. Open 10:30 to 5 and $15 tasting fee.
- Frogs Leap: sit on their wrap around porch and enjoy some great wine. Open 10 to 4.
- Cakebread Cellars: by appointment only but worth the stop. contact them by e-mail or by calling. It is very easy to set up an appointment with them.
- Beringer Vineyards: this winery is usually very busy on the weekends. They have a guided tour that is a must because the wine caves are awesome. This winery can also boast that it has been continuously run the longest in the valley.
- St Clement: I love the house at this winery where the tasting room is located. They have picnic tables and a kids playroom. Open 10 to 5 and tasting range from $10 to $25.
- Franciscan Estate: I have only been here once but really enjoyed the wine; hoping to get back one day. Open 10 to 5.
- Joseph Phelps Vineyard: gorgeous view and great wine what more do you need? Taste the Insignia, it is a must. A little pricey but worth it. Open M-F 9 to 5 & 10 to 4 on Saturday and Sunday. Tastings and seminars by appointment only.
- Rombauer Winery: one of my favorite wines and wineries. Quaint setting among the trees on a hill with a beautiful garden. Great wine and knowledgeable friendly staff to serve you. Open 10 to 5 and tasting is $10.
- Chateau Montelena: if you have seen the movie "Bottle Shock" this is the winery. Beautiful stone building carved into the hillside overlooking a lake. Great wine. Open 9:30 to 4.
- Sterling Vineyard: to get up too the winery on must take the aerial tram with it's great views. There is a self tour if one wants to do it and there is a patio with plenty of seating. Enjoy the great views and wine at this winery. Open 10:30 to 5 Monday through Friday and 10 to 5 on the weekend.
- Clos Pegase Estate: this winery offers tasting and does tours twice a day. They also have a picnic are for you to enjoy something you brought or you can buy cheese and some other goodies at the visitor center. Open 10:30 to 5.
- Cuvaison Estate: they have two locations but I have only been to the one in Calistoga. This winery has a contemporary look but very inviting with it's friendly staff. Open 10 to 5.
Once you have left the wineries the next step is to find good wines for a good price. Please check out "Good and Exceptionally Priced Wines of California".