Must-Visit Wineries in the Napa Valley

I should start off by saying I love wine, but I really don’t have a sophisticated palette.  That said, I really do enjoy wine tasting and try to do it whenever I travel. Of course, when one of the most famous spots for wine tasting is in your new backyard, you make it a priority even when you’re not traveling!

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I have come to realize that many people consider “Napa Valley” to be any and all wineries north of San Francisco.  Technically, that region is actually broken up into Napa County and Sonoma County (with even more wine regions to the north and south) – and then within those counties, there are specific regions – ie: Napa Valley and then within that, there are even more specific areas/districts (ie: Calistoga). 

I cover some of my favorite Sonoma Valley spots (plus outline my perspective on the difference between Napa & Sonoma) in another blog article. But since you’re here, I am guessing that you’ve decided that you want to go wine tasting in the Napa Valley so I am going to share a few of my favorites – in terms of wine, food and places to stay!

Pro tip: It’s ALWAYS a good idea to hire a driver for your day(s) of wine tasting. While a DD also works, who really wants to miss out on trying all of the delicious wine? It may seem like an added expense, but you will be able to truly enjoy yourself and not have to worry about getting around safely!

Wine

Chateau Montelena

Frankly, this place is just amazing! It certainly lives up to it’s Chateau name, as well as the hype surrounding it from the movie “Bottleshock”. It’s absolutely worth a visit for some wine tasting, and then a photo-shoot!

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Duckhorn

Stellar wine and a gorgeous tasting room. Need I say more? Duckhorn is one of those places that has a strong reputation for their Bordeaux wines, especially the quintessential Napa cab. Purists love it, but I personally am eager to try their new Paraduxx blended wines the next time I am in the area!

Etude

This one is alllll of the way on the southern end of the region, but it is truly beautiful and has some really special wines. We really enjoyed their Rose and Pinot Noir the last time we were there.

Goosecross

In a very crowded and pretentious Yountville (sorry, I said it), this place feels so much more relaxed and carefree. It may help that the tasting room is set right in the middle of the vineyards and is really designed to bring the outdoors in, plus that they offer their seated tastings outside on their giant deck (weather permitting). And, the wines are stellar. So stellar that I even took home a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, which is probably my least favorite kind of wine normally.

Mumm

Are you a sparkling wine fan? Mumm is the place to be! Theirs are delicious and (of course) can be enjoyed outside with gorgeous views.

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Robert Sinskey Vineyards

This is a gorgeous, unassuming spot right on Silverado Trail! The wine pairing was delicious – and even came with a little snack plate. I’d definitely come back here and for sure do one of their seated food pairings, which looked dynamite. I would note that their standard tasting didn’t include any wine from the vineyards nearby (which are primo given this location) so just make sure you’re educated and know what you’re trying. For us, it was perfect because we love wine from the Carneros region.

Pro tip: You can always ask to share a tasting between 2 people and most wineries will be totally fine with that! It’s a great way to really make sure you can still taste the wine and maximize the number of spots you can try in one day!

Stag’s Leap

If you’re coming to Napa for great Cabs, look no further than this place. I will say that the tasting is quite pricey (because the wines are pricey), but it’s definitely worthwhile if you want to get the quintessential Napa experience. They get quite busy, so I would definitely recommend a reservation (or a tour) if you’re coming here!

Sterling

Pardon the touristy inclusion, but for first-time Napa Valley visitors I always recommend this spot. Who doesn’t love a winery at the top of a hill, only accessible via gondola? Sterling offers a fun ride, good wine, a self-guided tour through their facilities and spectacular views of the Napa Valley! And all things considered, I find their wine to be surprisingly good.

Twomey

Have you ever been wine tasting and loved every single wine you tried? That was me at Twomey. It’s owned by the same family who own Silver Oak and was started to produce varietals other than Cab which I have to say they have done quite well. Writing this, I am asking myself why I am not a member of their wine club? Be right back…

Food

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If you’re an adventurous foodie, this is an awesome spot for you! The menu changes daily (and is published daily) and there are no changes – the whole table eats what’s on the menu! Now, chef Thomas Keller is in charge so you’re in tremendous hands but it’s definitely a food adventure.

Bouchon Bistro

If you’re a French food lover, I am not sure that you’ll find a more perfect spot than this bistro. It immediately feels like you’re back in France and the food is seriously spectacular. Of course, Michelin agrees and gives this place 1-star that’s certainly deserved. Definitely make reservations in advance – it’s always so slammed. And, do yourself a favor and swing by next-door for a pastry from the Bouchon Bistro (or if the line is long, just order them straight to your table!)

Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ

I am completely in love with this place because it combines two of my very favorite things – wine + BBQ! It’s a small place located in downtown Napa with a really fun vibe – though it also offers carry out that you can bring back to your hotel and enjoy on your couch…not that I am speaking from experience or anything 😉 My husband, a BBQ connoisseur, even said that it had some of the best pulled pork and brisket that he’s ever tried. Two thumbs up!

V. Sattui  

Technically, this is a winery…and I am sure they have very nice wine. But, you come here for an incredible picnic lunch. You can choose from meats, cheeses, sandwiches and salads galore to enjoy al fresco. And of course, you can taste and then pick up a bottle of wine to enjoy along with your picnic!

Pro tip: They have weekend BBQ’s when weather permits that add even more amazing food options!

Accommodations

Westin Verasa Napa

This won’t come as a surprise to most of you, but when we stay overnight in Napa this is our go-to spot! It’s centrally located in downtown Napa and super close to a lot of great restaurants (cough Hog Island cough). It even has its own 1-star Michelin restaurant, though I haven’t tried it yet.

What are your favorite wineries in the Napa Valley? I’d love to hear and check them out on my next wine tasting adventure.

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