Napa Valley Wineries
There are over 225 wineries in Napa Valley offering a myriad of experiences. Each of the following have been chosen based on something unique that they offer that we believe will create a memory that you will carry home with you. Some are meant for the serious wine lover who wants to taste great wines while others are architectural wonders and others house great art.
Nestled in the gentle hills of Carneros, ACACIA WINERY is casual and friendly. Having been here since 1979, they have seen the Valley grow tremendously around them but have maintained the same informal style that has created a very ardent fan of supporters who call themselves Acacians. They have a very active wine club that does many events together. Specializing in the varietals that have made Carneros famous, Acacia's fine reputation is built on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and its sparkling wines. They are by appointment only and do 2 types of tastings: you can taste 4-5 current releases for free or taste the "single vineyard" wines for $10.00 which includes a logo glass. There are great views of the San Pablo Bay and on a clear day, you can see some of the taller buildings in San Francisco, 45 miles away.
ARTESA VINEYARDS AND WINERY blends stunning architecture, panoramic views, fountains, a winemaking museum, extensive art exhibits, a dramatic tasting room with hand crafted wines that had 5 among the Wine Spectator's "Top 100 wines of 1996" and "Wine of the Year" in 1999. Its architecture blends with the natural terrain of the Carneros hillside with elegant views from the terrace including San Francisco Bay in the distance. The museum features equipment and artifacts dating back to its parent company's 16th Century origins. Tours are at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. daily and are complimentary.
Who would have thought that Mario Andretti has a passion for great wine? He does and he has built a winery that shows it. True to his Northern Italian roots, his Tuscan inspired winery has a easy going, old world feel to it and the friendly staff makes you feel very much at home regardless of how much, or little, you know about wine. Mario is not normally there, so save yourself the question. There is no tour per se, but the tasting room is built just steps from their vineyard and you are encouraged to wander in it with a glass of wine. Winery is open daily from 10:00a.m. - 5:00p.m. and no reservations are required. ANDRETTI WINERY is on The Silverado Trail.
Stimulating on many levels, CLOS PEGASE WINERY is the inspiration of Jan Shrem. Housing an extensive system of caves, including the Cave Theatre that combines a functioning winery with an extensive art collection that can be seen throughout the winery and expansive grounds. It is Jan's humor and devilish attitude that becomes apparent the more time you spend around his winery. Bacchus is quite near and dear to him and you will see much of the deity at Clos Pegase. When he decided to build the winery, Jan held an architectural competition in conjunction with The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The vision he put forth for the competition was "a temple to wine and art." The result is certainly temple like, rising off the Valley floor on columns creating perfect frames for sculpture and light. The winery is open from 10:00a.m. - 5:00p.m. with free tours at 11:00 and 2:00. The fee for tasting is $5.00 for whites and $7.50 for reds. For a really special treat, join Jan on the 3rd Saturday of each month in the cave theatre for "Bacchus, the Rascal: a Bacchanalian history seen through 4,000 years of art." It is free and not something you will experience anywhere else! You can also picnic here.
CLOS DU VAL WINE COMPANY has been famous for its big red wines since its inception in 1974 when it had very few winery neighbors. You can picnic here and play a lazy game of Petanque, a French game similar to bocce ball. Throughout the years, Clos Du Val has grabbed the attention of the media and wine connoisseurs alike. In 1976, well-known British wine journalist Steven Spurrier held a now-famous tasting in Paris which included the top houses of Bordeaux and five Cabernet Sauvignons from California. Clos Du Val's 1972 Cabernet Sauvignon was among the five. Ten years later, in a "rematch" of this renowned Paris tasting, the Clos Du Val '72 Cabernet took first place over its French and American counterparts.
In the near future, DARIOUSH WINERY will be one of, if not the most stunning architectural statements in Napa Valley. A 22,000 square foot winery inspired by Persepolis, the ancient Persian city founded by Darius I in 518 B.C. Due to open in the fall 2003, you can see the amazing structure in progress and taste the wines that have made Darioush one of the fastest growing wineries in Napa and one that major wine critics are greatly enjoying. For a $5.00 tasting fee, you will get to taste the entire portfolio of Darioush wines which normally included 5-7 wines. Open 10:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
The DEL DOTTO VINEYARDS are quite new but is building a reputation for a great place to visit and wines worth carrying home. Situated in 150-year-old caves hand dug by Chinese laborers it whisks you back in time. Newly decorated with a whimsical Venetian motif and manned by a staff of remarkably friendly and knowledgeable staff, it is easy to spend most of the day here. The real treat is the barrel tasting of the 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon out of 6 barrels, each made from a different oak. Two of them have alternating staves from different forests either in the U.S. or France. It is fun to see how much the source of the oak influences the same wine. It was recently chosen by Wine Spectator as one of their "Undiscovered Dozen." To taste 8 wines and a grappa, the fee is $10.00 and there is no charge for the tour that lasts about an hour. Tours are at 11:00, 1:00 and 3:00 M-F and pretty much on-going on the weekends.
The American flagship winery of Champagne Tattinger of France, the chateau winery could easily be in the South of France. You approach the winery via a grand staircase, passing chardonnay and pinot noir vineyards and planters bursting with seasonal flowers to the main entrance of the Visitors' Center. You can taste their sparkling wines either in the elegant Louis XV style salon, or on the beautiful terrace overlooking the hills and vineyards of DOMAINE CARNEROS. Wines are sold by the glass ($4.75-$10.00) or bottle, and are served with complimentary hors d'oeuvres. Wine plates and caviar are available for purchase. Complimentary guided tours are conducted daily on the hour starting at 10:00 a.m.. It lasts about 40 minutes and focuses on the history, production of sparkling wines and pinot noir, and the exceptional qualities of the Carneros Appellation and includes a 12 minute beautiful DVD.
FRANSICAN ESTATES offers a unique series of ways to enjoy their wines, philosophy and facility based on your individual interests and experiences with wine. Classic Oakville Tasting Taste the current releases of their award winning Napa Valley wines including Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. $5.00 - 4 wines. Reserve Oakville Tasting A special tasting of Cuvee Sauvage, Napa Valley's first wild-yeast fermented Chardonnay; their red meritage blend Magnificat, the winemaker's highest expression of their Oakville estate vineyards; and other featured selections $10.00 - 4 wines. Personalized Reserve Tasting The red carpet treatment for any wine enthusiast looking for an exclusive and specialized tasting experience. A Franciscan wine guide will personally lead a group of up to eight in a one-of-a-kind tasting in a private estate room. You decide the focus - compare wines from different appellations, taste reserve wines from their partner wineries, or just have fun with friends in a private setting. Reservations must be made in advance $25 and up depending on what you custom design. Taste Exploration Series , interactive tastings in private small-group settings. Discover the secrets to tasting wine like a pro or learn how soil, microclimate and place give a wine its unique flavors and aromas. Mastering Magnificat (Daily at 2pm) The art of blending the world's finest wines are blends - a marriage of the winemaker's best lots to create the highest expression of a vineyard or vintage. Try your hand at winemaking and use five classic Bordeaux varietals from their Oakville Estate to compose your own Magnificat. $10.00 - 30-40 minutes. Riedel Vinum Glass Tasting (Daily on the hour from 11am to 3pm) Considered the world's best wine glasses, Riedel has been designing the most finely tuned instruments for wine enjoyment for over four decades. At Franciscan they pour wines exclusively in Riedel glasses. Taste for yourself how fine glassware can enhance your wine tasting experience. $20.00 - 4 wines. Personality of Pinot (Daily on the hour at 11am) A clonal tasting Pinot Noir is perhaps the most sensual of all wines. But have you ever thought it might be in the genes? Different clones of Pinot Noir carry their own genetic code, a personality that influences the flavor, size and appearance of each vine. Taste several different clones and get to know Pinot. $10.00
Housed in a barn and staffed by 3 people total, GOOSECROSS CELLARS gives you the impression of what Napa Valley was decades ago. Friendly does not even come close to the feeling you get as you walk in. Nothing is hurried and you find yourself settling into the conversation about the wines, why it is called Goosecross Cellars or whatever pops up. Fee for 4 wines is $4.00. They also have a great "Wine Basics Class" on Saturdays from 11:00am - 12:30pm and it is free. Reservations are required and best to make them at least 30 days in advance.
Donald Hess' passion for art and wine are evident at every turn when visiting the HESS COLLECTION. The multi-level art gallery features paintings and sculptures by contemporary European and American artists. The wines come from a wide variety of vineyards including 280 acres on Mount Veeder where the grapes are grown on steep, austere slopes producing powerful flavors, to estate vineyards in Dry Creek, Oakville, and Pope Valley, each producing a unique character. The facility holds a special place in Napa history as the home of Christian Brothers' Mount La Salle Winery, home of renowned wine maker Brother Timothy. The tasting room and gallery are open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The tours are self-guided, giving you as much time as you want to explore. From 2:00-3:30 p.m. on Fridays, Hess offers a unique food and wine pairing in the courtyard. There is a $3.00 fee for tasting 3 wines.
Surely numerous people told William Jarvis that he was nuts when he proposed hollowing out an entire mountain and putting a winery inside. Well, he certainly proved them all wrong as his underground winery features waterfalls, rivers, the tasting room, offices, the stunning "Crystal Chamber" and all the equipment, tanks, barrels, etc., to produce his marvelous wines. You simply stand there, stare and say "wow, how did he think of this and how much did it cost!!" Your visit includes a complete tour of the entire operations and a tasting in an elegant glass room accompanied by cheese. JARVIS has two tours, the Classic is one hour and includes tasting two wines for $15.00 and The Bacchus Tasting which includes four wines and is one hour for $25.00. Reservations are definitely required and should be made at least a month in advance. There is a 24 hour cancellation policy and they will take your credit card to hold the reservation. Only ten people on each tour.
The friendliest of staffs, the most eclectic tasting room in the Valley and great wines makes MARKHAM VINEYARDS a most popular stop. Like Merlot? Markham was featured on the cover of the Wine Spectator as THE Merlot in Napa Valley. Tastings are $3.00 for whites and $5.00 for reds.
REGUSCI WINERY is one of a few "Ghost Wineries" in Napa Valley. It is the name given to the few remaining early Napa Valley wineries that were in existence between 1860 and 1900. Very few of these Ghost Wineries remain as the vineyards of most Napa Valley wineries were decimated by the phylloxera infestation of the 1890's. The economic depression of that decade was the final blow for many others. As a result, most of these wineries were abandoned or forced into bankruptcy and then laid dormant through prohibition. Over the years that followed, many fell into disrepair and were dismantled or absorbed into newer, more modern facilities. Regusci is a step back to 1878. The winery's handsome hand-cut stone facade, with its graceful arched windows, is crafted entirely from lava stone and has walls that are two feet thick. The views from the picnic area, across the Valley to the West are peaceful and lush. Reservations are required. There is a $5.00 tasting fee that is waived if you purchase a bottle of wine.
WILLIAM HILL WINERY is located along the Silverado Bench, just south of Stags'' Leap District in southern Napa Valley. Since their beginning in 1978, William Hill has developed a reputation for producing rich, intense Napa Valley wines with a distinctive elegance. Focusing on Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, they produce three tiers of wine: Napa Valley, Napa Valley Reserve and Aura Cabernet Sauvignon. Winery Tastings are $5.00 per person. The Aura Experience includes a sensory exploration of the wines along with food pairings chosen by the staff. It is $20.00 and you need to make reservations in advance as the times vary.
In 1968, Norman de Leuze and Gino Zepponi pooled their resources of $3,000 a piece and applied for a winery permit. At that time, there had not been a winery permit issued in Sonoma County for nearly 20 years. The permit was issued in 1969. Their first release, 300 cases of Pinot Noir, came from the now highly celebrated Winery Lake Vineyard that had been planted by Rene diRosa a couple years earlier. ZD WINES 1969 Pinot Noir carries the historical significance of being the first wine to have a Carneros designation on the label. The former aerospace engineers and their families spent weekends and holidays crafting ZD's wines from grapes grown in carefully selected vineyards from some of today's most recognized wine regions. In 1979, after ten years of producing wine as a part-time business, Norman left engineering to devote all of his time to doing what had become a full-time passion. Norman's wife, Rosa Lee handled the sales and marketing of the wines. A six-acre parcel of land was purchased located along the beautiful Silverado Trail in Rutherford, Napa Valley. Here, a new winery was built in 1979. One year later, Cabernet Sauvignon was planted on the surrounding property and a three varietal focus was taken, which returned ZD to its original plan. In 1980, ZD began producing only Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Today, the de Leuze family continues to produce wines with a personal, hands-on approach.
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Restaurants & Wine Bars
Napa Valley has long been known for its culinary treats and there continues to be a steady stream of new and innovative eateries to tempt one's palate.
BISTRO DON GIOVANNI is set among vineyards with a whimsical fountain/sculpture visible from the terrace dining area. It bustles in season and locals keep it busy year round. Blending Italian and Country French cuisine, the menu is always full of Donna's and Giovanni's inspirations. The terrace offers spectacular views of the Valley's western mountains, vineyards, their colorful gardens and the fountain/sculpture called "Comedis del Arte." Entrees run in the $15.00 - $25.00 range with salads and appetizers in the $7.00-$10.00 range. The wine list is very large and represents a great cross section of wines from around the world. Reservations are required. Favorite Dishes: Salad - Beet and Haricots Verts with Roquefort Vinaigrette ($7.75) Pasta - Rigatini Bolognese Sonoma Duck Ragu, Aged Provolone and Sage ($13.00) Meat -Grilled Double Cut Pork Chop with Roasted Potatoes and Garlic, Artichoke, Tomato-Olive Compote ($17.95)
Just north of Yountville, BRIX is a combination eclectic restaurant, wine shop and strolling gardens all in one. After ordering a glass of wine, tell the waiter you are going to go wander in the gardens for awhile. They will look at you appreciatively since you know about them. There you will find over 100 olive trees, edible flowers, exotic herbs and sensational flowers all of which are used in the restaurant. Awaiting back at your table is a "fusion" menu that offers the best that each season has to offer. The exhibition kitchen wraps around the interior of the restaurant allowing all tables to see the action going on with the chefs. The wine list has over 400 wines and the list has been voted "Best of Excellence Award" by The Wine Spectator since its opening in 1996. Terrace dining is also available on a first come, first serve basis. Entrees run in the $16.00 - $32.00 range with appetizers and salads are around $6.00 - $15.00. Favorite Dishes: Starter - Nori Crusted Ahi Tuna Sashimi with Hijiki Seaweed Salad ($12.50) Seafood - Seared Diver Scallops and Sweet Corn with Fava Beans, Morels and Lobster Broth ($27.00) Meat - Double Cut Lamb Chops with Goat Cheese Potato Gratin and Tarragon Jus ($28.50)
Greg Cole opened CELADON in 1996 and it immediately became one of the locals' favorites. The menu has been called "hip Asian," "eclectic" and Greg calls it "global comfort food." The popularity has caused Greg to move to a much larger location in July of this year with both indoor and patio tables. Salads and appetizers are $6.00 - $10.00 with entrees in the $16.00 to $38.00 (20 oz Porterhouse Steak) Side dishes add another $5.00 or so. Cole's offers a very extensive wine list. Favorite Dishes: Small Plates - Pan Roasted Mussels with Applewood smoked bacon, garlic, tomatoes and white wine ($10.00) Seafood -Seared Salmon with purple sticky rice, citrus salad and miso sauce ($18.00) Meat -Grilled truffle glazed Pork Chop with sweet potato puree, asparagus and mustard sauce ($20.00.)
A "classic American steak house," COLE'S CHOP HOUSE is located in an historic stone building in downtown Napa. The sister restaurant of Celadon, it offers dry aged prime steaks, formula fed veal, New Zealand lamb and fresh seafood. Bring your appetite as the servings are huge. Very large wine list with the emphasis on reds, of course. The Honduran mahogany bar does a bustling business of patrons waiting for tables and locals stopping in for some after work relaxation. They are open 7 days a week and reservations are required. Favorite Dishes: Appetizer - Lobster and Shrimp Bisque in Puff Pastry ($9.00) Seafood -Pacific Swordfish Steak ($19.00) Meat -16 oz. 21 day dry-aged New York Steak ($29.00.)
Ready for a culinary experience that is available in only a very few places? LA TOQUE delivers the goods with a 5 course (plus cheese course if you have room) prix fixe extravaganza with wine pairings for each course chosen by the chef and sommelier. The service is impeccable with wait staff offering amuses (individual morsels of the chef's creation) between each course. The meal portion is $85.00 per person and the paired wines are $45.00 per person. They pour good size glasses and the cost really is not much more than a good bottle of wine and you get five great glasses perfectly matched to each bite you take. There are only 14 tables in an intimate room dominated by a great fireplace so reservations are definitely required. Between courses, you will be encouraged to take a stroll around the grounds of the restaurant making the whole experience on of great leisure and a bit of decadence. Seatings are at 5:30p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Wednesday - Sunday. Favorite Dishes: Whatever they are serving!
Blending Mediterranean flavors with a Californian slant, Tarla is a big hit with our guests. Located in Napa's "West End" of First Street, it offers a casual atmosphere and al fresco dining. Specialties includethe Meze plate with house-made dolmas, tzatziki, humus and pita bread. Other hits include Spanakopita, Lamb Kofte burger, Doner (aka Shwarma), and stuffed apricots for dessert. Extensive list of American, Italian and Turkish wines. Appetizers and salads run $7.00 - $14.00 and entrees between $15.00 - $25.00.
A Tapas restaurant whose menu is so tempting, you will find yourself ordering just about everything on it. Plates run from $5.00 - $12.00 and they have the wine list to recommend a different wine for each course. With the look and feel of a hip spot in a large metropolitan city, ZU-ZU'S moves to the beat of salsa music and the bustling of the staff around the cozy surroundings. The interior is a melange of local and international art and decor, including a Mexican rusted tin ceiling, exposed worm wood beams, faded colonial floor tiles, and a recycled pine wood bar. The restaurant features metal and woodwork by local artesian Mick Handley and impressionistic landscapes of mixed media on plaster by noted chef Michael Fennelly. The upstairs loft houses a family table overlooking the Napa River and Veterans' Park. Some of the "plates" include Brazilian-style mussels, Argentine marinated skirt steak with chimichurri, sauteed mushrooms in garlic and sherry, and the paella of the day. You can match these with wines from Spain, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and of course, the United States. They do not take reservations. They are open from 4:30 - 10:30. Favorite Dishes: Sea Scallop Ceviche ($6.00) Boniato (Sweet Potatoes) Mash ($3.00) Moroccan Barbecue Lamb Chops ($11.00) Brazilian Style Steamed Mussels ($6.00.)
BACKROOM WINES is the brainchild of Daniel Dawson who has been a part of the Napa Valley wine scene for over 12 years including stints at Dean and Deluca, The French Laundry and All Season's Wine Shop. He offers a huge selection of hard-to-find wines for sale as well as an eclectic group to taste by the glass. He also serves a great selection of artisan cheeses and charcuterie. He will also become your personal wine "scout," getting to know your personal preferences and then hunt them down for you. Getting to know Dan is very easy and once he knows you, he will keep you informed via phone or email when wines he thinks you will enjoy are available. Located in downtown Napa at 974 Franklin St, Backroom is great before dinner, after dinner or as you head out of town and you need a few bottles to carry home. You can also join his wine club and receive regular shipments of wines that are in very limited distribution.
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Mud baths have been a tradition, a way of life in Calistoga since the time of the Mayacamas Indians. The combination of clay, peat and hot mineral waters in the mud bath relaxes muscles and joints, cleanses impurities, and leaves the skin soft and renewed. GOLDEN HAVEN SPA specializes in "couple's baths" meaning you have the treatment in the same room as your traveling mate. The treatment which includes ten minutes in the mud , giving you a general wiped out feeling that is quite pleasant, also includes a mineral bath and warm blanket wrap. The combination mud treatment and one-hour massage is $118.00 per person while the mud treatment alone is $65.00. Calistoga is at the northern end of the Valley.
GREENHAUS DAY SPA offers a wide array of pampering options including facials, numerous massage treatments, body wraps, waxing, "bridal packages," peels, exfoliation, nail care and much more. You can stay an hour or all day depending on how much pampering your are in need of.
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BEAU TOURS offers a very wide variety of transportation provided tours, everything from two people in a stretch limo to groups up to 14 in a van. The prices vary with the number of people who might be joining you on the tour, the more people the less cost per person and the length of the tour. They have 4, 6 and 8 hour tours.
NAPA WINERY SHUTTLE was founded by the father-son team of Norm and Tom Kincaid, Napa natives who love the region, and the opportunity to share it with others. They have selected a group of excellent wineries - from renowned winery tours to romantic picnic spots, from historic vineyards to hidden gems, from Stag's Leap Cabernets to world class Chardonnays. It is a hassle-free, comfortable alternative to navigating Napa alone, and can introduce you to some of the wonderful wineries you might never have found, as well as the Valley's most popular spots. Their service is especially valuable to first-time visitors who may feel intimidated by the number of wineries in the Valley and how to choose what to do. The cost is just $75 per person.
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NAPA VALLEY BALLOONS have been seen above the vineyards for over 20 years and Don Surplus and Kim Kleist, owners of NV Balloons, have been there since the beginning. Don recently flew the crew of Good Morning America and The Today Show as well as Oprah Winfrey, Chelsea Clinton and many other celebs. Rates are $185 per person, which includes a Continental Breakfast upon meeting, your balloon flight over the Napa Valley and after the flight, the enjoyment of the champagne celebration and catered brunch. You will also receive an instant color photo of the lift off or landing and a balloon pin. Plan on spending at least three to four hours on your adventure.
CHARDONNAY GOLF COURSE is THE place to play in the Valley. It is the only golf course with a working vineyard (150 acres) on the property. In fact, it is the rough. So watch your errant drives as you may kill some Cabernet with a duck hook. The public side, Vineyards Golf Club is ranked #13 among public courses in N. California and the private course, Shakespeare, is #7 among private courses in N. California. Both have hosted numerous tournaments including U.S. Open qualifying.
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di ROSA PRESERVE Truly a vision come true. Rene DiRosa, master vineyard producer, has created a one-of-a-kind art experience that must be experienced to be believed. Offered year-round, the tour allows you to view the bulk of the collection. Seen are each of the four gallery buildings: the Gate House, Main Gallery, former di Rosa Residence and Tractor Barn. In addition, guests may walk through the garden areas, the meditation chapel and the central courtyard, viewing over 150 pieces of outdoor sculpture. The experience takes about 2 1/2 hours. The Preserve's setting is utterly unique. A 35-acre lake, a 130-year old stone winery turned residence and nearly 2,000 works by some 750 artists makes the di Rosa experience an unparalleled art and nature oasis. You will be visiting a rural site where Mother Nature will be with you at all times, so dress comfortably. Fee is $5.00 and reservations are a must. They are closed Sundays.
With a focus on the cultural and environmental heritage of Napa Valley, the NAPA VALLEY MUSEUM offers a wide range of artists and mediums. Located in Yountville on the grounds of the historic Veterans Home, the museum is two-stories with a truly wonderful interactive wine experience with 26 video disc players, nine micro computers, 24 monitors and 11 speakers all in glowing 3-D panels on the first floor and 3200 square feet of gallery above it.
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