Table of Contents
- CHATEAU DOMAINE CARNEROS TOUR
- *HOTEL RECOMMENDATION: YOUNTVILLE
- YOUNTVILLE WINERIES & TASTING ROOMS
- TOP NAPA WINERIES & TOURS
- DINING RECOMMENDATIONS
- Final Thoughts
This Napa Valley California Travel Guide features some of the best wineries in Napa, including a Yountville Hotel recommendation.
CHATEAU DOMAINE CARNEROS TOUR
The tour length lasts around an hour or so, taking you through the fascinating process of crafting sparkling wine and pinot noir.
*Note: Reservations are encouraged, but they do offer daily tastings between the hours of 10:00 – 5:30 pm except for certain holidays, with the tour and tasting typically lasting around 90 minutes. For the complete schedule and reservation link, click here.
Their sparkling wine, “Le Reve,” is stellar.
If your time is running short, you can also pop into the lovely estate for a tasting flight and enjoy the sloping valley views from the white umbrella-lined terrace of the Chateau. This winery and tour is a perfect choice for those who enjoy sparkling wines (like myself). But, there are also a variety of red wines to be tasted at the end of the tour as well.
Nearby Napa Valley Lunch Suggestion: Keep it casual with lunch at Redd Wood. Try the meatball appetizer, bolognese pasta, or shrimp pasta, and if you’re vegetarian, there are quite a few options here as well.
Hotel Yountville. is a beautiful ideal place to stay while touring Yountville and Napa Valley’s many wineries.
The first time I stayed here, I remember wanting to sleep just a few more hours in the pillowy bed, with the shadows of the flames flickering in the corner fireplace, catching brief glimpses between half-closed eyelids of misty skies and bright green blades of grass peeking through the gaps in the darkening drapes to the back patio.
I still crave those early mornings spent curled up on the enveloping couch, draped in the emerald-green throw, sipping rich, earthy coffee while letting a dark, slightly spiced chocolate melt in my mouth, leaving behind a hint of merlot.
If you get a chance, don’t hesitate to stay at this quiet, relaxing resort.
YOUNTVILLE WINERIES & TASTING ROOMS
If you’re staying in Yountville, you’re within walking distance to all sorts of restaurants, cafes, tasting rooms, and shops. Treat yourself to a pastry and espresso at Bouchon Bakery, where you can sit outside and enjoy the crisp, dewy coolness of the early morning.
Another excellent tasting room to try is Priest Ranch. If you like, you can join their club and order a case to be shipped to your home or an ABC store.
There are such a variety of tasting rooms and delicious places to stop and have lunch in Yountville that you can’t go wrong strolling from one place to the next, stopping wherever you please.
TOP NAPA WINERIES & TOURS
Founded in 1978 by Gary Andrus, Pine Ridge Vineyards sits in the heart of the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley, famous for Cabernet Sauvignon wines of distinctive power and elegance.
The tour begins outside with a glass of Chardonnay under their gazebo.
Inside the winery, workers with water hoses spray down vats filled with loads of mushed-up grapes that are bubbling to the top.
The extensive tour finishes in the underground cellar where the walls are lined with barrels that lead the way to the rock-lined tasting room, Cellar 47, where at the center is positioned a large round table with a glass sculpture embedded into the rock wall behind it.
FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA WINERY
A private tour of this Napa Valley winery takes you through the surrounding grounds and wine-making facilities. Once inside the main building, the tour takes on a museum quality due to various rare items on display.
Although the main attraction is the classic Tucker car, the original used in the film Tucker: The Man and His Dream, there is also a collection of rare books on display. One standout is a copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Additionally, Don Corleone’s desk from The Godfather is also there, along with many other movie memorabilia items. The tour is immaculate, weaving artistry and history together with a dash of Hollywood panache.
Staglin Winery is simply beautiful, refreshing, and peaceful. There isn’t a grand mansion or impressive estate, only row after row of wine grapes with a simple house in the middle of it all where the tour begins and ends. The final tasting takes place in a bright, sunny dining room with the wine served in elegant Riedel stemware. Great wine is created here, and the delicious flavors are undeniable, even if it were served in clay jars.
HALL | ST HELENA
There are two Hall wineries, and while they are both exquisite, they are completely different in style.
Hall–St Helena is situated on flat terrain along the more traditional Napa Valley trail and is accented throughout with modern art exhibits combined with an infinity reflecting pool. The other Hall Winery (which I’ll get to in a moment) is positioned on a hill with deep caves and elegant Swarovski chandeliers.
Regardless of your artistic taste – traditional or modern – neither winery disappoints. The Hall 1873 wine is a particular favorite.
Bremer Family Winery is home to one of the best chardonnays ever. It’s a smaller winery, so one of the benefits of a tour and tasting is the level of attention you get throughout the experience.
Remember how I mentioned there are two Hall Wineries? Well, welcome to the Cave & Chandelier version: Hall Rutherford. While it may take a bit of wrangling for a tour reservation to this Napa Valley winery, it’s well worth the extra effort.
If you arrive early, the tour guide will most likely offer you a glass of Sauvignon Blanc to enjoy while you take in the uplifting sculptures on the patio.
Inside the winery’s caves, there are rows upon rows of wine-stained barrels, and at the far end of the cave is a massive table lit by the sprawling Swarovski diamond chandelier. This room is where you enjoy your wine tasting paired with local cheeses and their select varietal of wines.
Dine at one of the first truly “farm-to-table” restaurants: Farmstead at Longmeadow Ranch. All of the dishes are created with locally source fruits, vegetables, and meats. The rustic, picnic-like interior makes it a perfect spot for a casual lunch while you are touring the best of Napa Valley’s wineries.
Another exceptional lunch spot in the area is SolBar, located inside Solage, an Auberge Resort. The dining here, though elegant, is also laid-back, and the food is incredibly memorable, also sourced from the local produce of the nearby farmers and ranchers.
For dinner, Mustard’s Grill is a warm and inviting classic that has been in operation for over 30 years, and as it says on their menu: “Sorry, Everything Is Delicious.”
As far as trips go, a visit to Napa Valley and its wineries can be like a wine-infused hurricane, but it continues to rank highly on the destination list.
Ultimately, Napa Valley is a serene, cool place where the whole countryside seems to want you to pause for a moment so you can relax, take a slow sip, and just breathe.