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If you’re visiting Napa Valley for the first time or aren’t an experienced wine connoisseur, this iconic California destination can be overwhelming. There are more than 400 wineries that have tasting rooms in Napa Valley, with many more that produce wine but aren’t necessarily open to the public. Choosing a few wineries to visit can be difficult, so we’re sharing a guide to some of the best ones to stop by!
Domaine Carneros, Napa
This is an especially excellent Napa Valley winery to visit if you love pinot noir and sparkling wines. It is housed in a French-inspired chateau and has a history that dates back to the late 1970s. All the wines here come from the Carneros appellation and almost all from its estate vineyards. You can enjoy tableside service on the terrace or in the salon when you visit Domaine Carneros, and tastings are offered daily. Reservations are required for tastings, and you can also enjoy wine by the glass here with caviar and artisan cheese. The tours are offered daily to guests 21 and over.
V. Sattui Winery, St. Helena
V. Sattui is a wonderful winery to come and spend an entire afternoon, especially if you have kids or dogs. There’s an artisan deli that carries everything you need to make a gourmet picnic lunch and enjoy outside in the grassy space with tables. This winery dates back to 1885 when Vittorio Sattui started the business that was later revived by his great-grandson. At times, there’s even wood-fired pizza offered at weekend BBQs. These are guided tours that will teach you about the vineyard’s winemaking and conclude with a complimentary wine tasting. Food and wine pairings and blending seminars are also offered here, and events require reservations.
Rutherford Hill Winery, Rutherford
If you’ve ever been curious about what a winery cave is, then plan to visit the Rutherford Hill Winery in Napa Valley. This winery offers cave tours, wine tastings, and picnic spots with lovely vineyard views. Rutherford Hill Winery was founded in 1972, and Merlot is the flagship wine, with about 75 percent of production dedicated to the Merlot varietal. Order a tasting flight or join a cave tour/barrel-tasting experience.
Luna Vineyards, Napa
This winery is close to the town of Napa and was the first family-owned winery to plant pinot grigio on the eastern hills of the Silverado Trail. This is a bit newer winery, as the winery’s history dates back to 1995, and it is the largest estate-planted pinot grigio and sangiovese producer in the valley. You can visit the winery and do a Signature Tasting, which includes five current release wines, or a Bianca Tasting, which includes all white wines. Reserve tastings are available as well as wine and chocolate pairings, while cheese and charcuterie tastings are offered by appointment.
Castello di Amorosa, Calistoga
Castello di Amorosa is definitely one of the most impressive wineries in Napa Valley, thanks to its medieval-inspired Tuscan castle and multi-level winery that offers tastings. This winery offers Italian-style wines and includes access to roam around the two levels and sample premium wines or reserve wines. You can also take a guided tour with premium or reserve wine tasting, a cheese and wine pairing tour, royal food and wine pairing tour, or a Napa Valley Wine Train and tour package.
Inglenook Winery, Napa
The history of Inglenook Winery dates back to 1879, and it makes everything from cabernet sauvignon to zinfandel and sauvignon blanc wines. One highlight is trying the flagship Rubicon wine with artisan cheese. You can also stop by The Bistro for a comfortable place to relax and enjoy wines by the glass or bottle, as well as bistro bites, cheese, charcuterie, and cigars.
Spottswoode, St. Helena
This is another very popular St. Helena winery that has been growing grapes on its estate since 1972 and making wines organically since 1985. Come here to try cabernet sauvignon, sauvignon blanc, and syrah. Tours and seated tastings are by appointment only and last for about 90 minutes.
Chateau Montelena, Calistoga
The last winery we’ll mention here is the Chateau Montelena, which is a castle with gardens and was founded in 1882. You can stop by for a walk-in current release tasting and no reservations are needed for this tasting unless you’re coming by with a group of eight or more. Library tastings, estate tours, vineyard tours, and cellarmaster tastings are also available here.
Louis M. Martini Winery, St. Helena
The Louis M. Martini Winery is known for its cabernet sauvignon and is one of the most popular wineries in the Napa Valley area. Martini made his first wine in 1906 with his father in San Francisco, and he built a winery in St. Helena in 1933. The winery underwent a significant restoration effort in 2019 and offers exquisite tasting and culinary experiences today. You can book an outdoor cabana tasting, heritage lounge experience, Martini Park tasting, or underground cellar experience on the winery’s website. Tastings are available by appointment only, and wine club release weekend events are available for members.
Fantesca, St. Helena
At Fantesa Estate & Winery, you can experience small-production, limited-availability wine in Napa Valley. At the winery, you’ll have views of the Spring Mountains and enjoy crafted wines from Heidi Barrett and Tony Arcudi. The winery got its name from an Italian comedy character that inspired the Cirque Du Soleil performances. Occasionally, events are held at the winery, such as the Mardi Gras celebration.
Darioush Winery, Napa
Offering fine wines, hospitality, and a worldly perspective, Darioush is a Napa, California winery. Darioush Khaledi learned the craft of winemaking from his father at an early age and was inspired by the wine culture of the ancient cities of Shiraz and Persepolis. He immigrated to America and was an entrepreneur who founded the winery with his wife in 1997. Today, the estate spans 120 acres in southern Napa Valley in the Mount Veeder and Oak Knoll AVAs. At this winery, you can reserve a private outdoor table in the tasting garden, join a communal wine and food pairing experience, and explore vintage-release olive oils with in-house experts. Reserve a date and time for your visit on the winery website.
Artesa Vineyards & Winery, Napa
There are over 460 years of winemaking history behind the wines at Artesa Vineyards & Winery, which has an inviting tasting room. The oldest winemaking family in Spain established Artesa, which blends old- and new-world techniques to create estate-grown wines. It is in the steep foothills of Mt. Veeder and overlooks Los Carneros. Tours and tastings are open to the public, but it is a good idea to make a reservation at least one to two weeks in advance of your trip, especially during peak season. Options for your visit are terrace seating, salon and foyer bar seating, and a tapas wine tasting and tour.
Far Niente, Oakville
Another top local winery to visit is Far Niente, which offers fine wines in Napa Valley and specializes in chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. The winery’s name references an Italian phrase that translates to “without a care.” The winery has 13 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens and historic wine caves. You can make a reservation to do an estate tasting, cave collection library wine tasting, estate tour and tasting, and a private large group tour and tasting for nine to 16 people.
Robert Mondavi Winery, Oakville
This winery has been in Napa Valley since 1966 and is one of the most recognized names in the wine industry. It welcomes visitors who make a reservation appointment for parties of six or fewer people. There are culinary experiences that you can have here, including multi-course dinners and leisurely lunches.
Alpha Omega, St. Helena
The Alpha Omega Winery has been in Napa Valley since 2006 and features the wine of vinters Robin and Michelle Baggett. This is a winery that values environmental sustainability and has a commitment to philanthropy. The winery makes wine from grapes that come from its own vineyards and other historic vineyards in the region. You can reserve a wine tasting in the Alpha Omega tasting room bar. It is a kid-friendly and pet-friendly winery.