In the 2015 movie The Martian, Matt Damon plays an astronaut-botanist who survives being left behind in space by growing potatoes on Mars. Potatoes will grow almost anywhere, but wine grapes will not; they’re pickier about their neighborhoods. Grapes grown in perfect conditions, like Napa, render the best wines. Thus, year after year, Napa Valley wineries win awards and accolades. Those perfect conditions include:
- Diverse Soil – More than 100 soil variations are found in Napa Valley, creating various grape characters and intensities.
- Dry Mediterranean Climate – Sunny days and cool evenings give Napa Valley’s grapes a long growing season and plenty of time to develop deep interesting flavors for harvest.
- Topography – Surrounding mountains protect the grapes by preventing very hot and very cool from entering the valley.
Consequently, it makes sense that the wines produced in Napa Valley are highly valued around the world. So, here is a list of the best wineries to visit in Napa Valley. Plan a visit to taste the fabulous wines while enjoying the scenic vineyards.
Make sure to call ahead to check social distancing policies!
8 Best Napa Valley Wineries
1. V. Sattui Winery
Ahh…my favorite Napa Valley destination: V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena. I love the Italian Villa feel and the friendly staff. I usually head over to their Artisan Deli to pick up a cab or zinfandel, a few cheeses and a loaf of fresh baked bread. Then I nibble, sip and relax Tuscany-style. Heavenly!
Evening events at V. Sattui are romantic without being stuffy or pretentious. Wine stomping and harvest parties feel like a celebration at a good friend’s house – if you happen to have a friend who makes a 98 point cabernet or a peppery, lush zin! Visit one of their 3 tasting rooms to experience a variety of their best.
According to Wine Spectator, Rombauer Caneros “defines the California Chardonnay style that so many adore”. This chardonnay, with vanilla, peach, cream and baking spice flavors frequently makes top 100 and top 10 lists. Plus, the knowledgeable, friendly staff warmly greet both novice and expert wine-tasters, making this winery a must-go for all wine lovers. Taste Rombauer wines while picnicking overlooking the Napa Valley or exploring the wine caves.
3. Grgich Hills
In 1977, renown Chateau Montelena winemaker Mike Grgich decided to establish a winery of his own. He founded his namesake, Grgich Hills, in Napa Valley’s St. Helena. Every year since, Grgich holds a “blessing of the grapes” ceremony, followed by wine stomping. The blessed grapes yield award winning wines that have been served to the King of Spain, Queen Elizabeth II and US Presidents. Can I get an amen!
Guests are welcome to visit and taste wines on the winery’s Ranch House Patio.
4. Stags’ Leap Winery
In 1888, Horace Chase founded Stags’ Leap Winery, a winery that has lived through World Wars, the Great Depression and Prohibition. Guests are invited to tour and taste at the historic Manor House, a legendary spot for bootleggers, ghosts and gypsies.
Today, Stags’ Leap winemakers keep the focus on balance, employing simple methods to produce intense wines with soft tannins. Their cabernet sauvignons, with a multi-layered mouth feel and flavors of blackberry and black cherry, have won several accolades, rating 94 plus points. In addition, the winery itself has been named one of the top 5 romantic winery destinations by Sonoma Magazine.
Turnbull Winery invites you to a tasting experience in The Gallery, a special hall featuring a renown private photography collection. In addition, guests may explore the grounds on their own, at their own pace. Members are invited to taste in the intimate, ultra-private Members’ Room.
Turnbull’s 2017 Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon recently scored a perfect 100 points from Antonio Galloi of Vinous.
Cakebread Winery, located in Rutherford, welcomes you to their new visitor center to taste their celebrated wines while enjoying beautiful wine country views. Choose between two tasting options. Option #1 is The Cakebread Classic, which features 4 wines and a fun, educational wine tour. Option #2 is for members only in the Wine Club Lounge, located in the original Winery House. Cakebread also offers wine country cooking classes and will host your private events.
7. Pine Ridge Vineyards
When Gary and Nancy Andrus founded Pine Ridge Vineyards, they chose Napa Valley’s Stags Leap district, famous for its Cabernet Sauvignon. Today, their vineyards are spaced out in 5 different Napa Valley Appellations. Named by Food and Wine magazine as one of California’s top 75 wineries to visit, Pine Ridge welcomes you to tastings on a self-guided vineyard tour or a garden tasting experience.
8. Etude Wines
Tony Soter founded Etude Wines almost 40 years ago, with the philosophy that superior grape growing practices would produce a superior libation. Hence, Etudes’s commitment to excellence paid off with multiple Etude wines scoring above 90 points. Etude welcomes you to choose from several tasting experiences or to join their wine club and attend their amazing wine club events.
California is home to so many award-winning wineries. Make plans to visit these wineries and tell us what you think!