One of the best things about visiting Napa Valley is its wealth of magnificent wineries. Yet one of the challenges about visiting Napa Valley is its spectacular collection of wineries. Where to begin? How to choose?
Why not start where Napa itself did? Here are some wineries that have put the Valley on the map. They’re must-visits not just for their rich, textured history, but for their meticulously crafted wines and in-depth immersion into the origins of Northern California wine.
The Beaulieu Vineyard
Established in 1900 by the Latour family, Beaulieu takes credit for introducing the European style of oak barrel aging to Napa. Now celebrated for its Cabernet Sauvignon, the winery celebrates its significant past with the Retrospective Reserve Tasting, where it showcases one of Napa’s most comprehensive wine libraries and offers guests the opportunity to taste vintage Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignons. This in-depth tasting includes a flight guided by a Wine Educator who explains the rich history on display in the new Heritage Room.
1960 St. Helena Hwy., Rutherford, 707-967-5200, bvwines.com.
The Hess Collection
Founded in 1844 in Switzerland, Hess Family Estates is a family-owned, fourth-generation company. Yet beyond creating superb wine, proprietor Donald Hess began collecting art in 1966. Today, The Hess Collection at his Napa winery houses hundreds of pieces, cultivated from his portfolios shown in museums worldwide and celebrating both nationally known talents as well as lesser-known rising stars.4411 Redwood Rd., Napa, 707- 255-1144, hesscollection.com.
The Domaine Chandon name is legendary in France, and when its founders came to the Napa Valley more than 30 years ago, they brought decades of skill with them. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunierare crafted into classic French-style Champagne, to be enjoyed at one of its several tasting bars, or in its nationally acclaimed restaurant, étoile. Wander the grounds and enjoy changing art installations, such as “mushroom” stones, and lavish gardens. 1 California Dr., Yountville, 707-944-2892, chandon.com.
Pine Ridge Winery
Since 1978, founder Gary Andrus has brought a touch of Bordeaux to the steeply terraced hillsides of the Stags Leap District. Andrus was one of the first to plants many varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, and today, the Estate’s 200-acres span over five renowned Napa Valley appellations – Stags Leap District, Rutherford, Oakville, Carneros and Howell Mountain. The Appellation Tasting is one of its most popular experiences, providing the opportunity to taste and compare Pine Ridge Vineyards wines representing all five distinct appellations.
5901 Silverado Trail, Napa, 707-253-7500, pineridgevineyards.com.
Tip: Focus on the wine and the experience, not on the driving. A Pure Luxury limo or Town car can get you there and back comfortably and safely.