Wine Country Experiences Napa Valley

UNARGUABLY, THE NAPA VALLEY has set the benchmark for American wine. Geographically, the valley is long and lean— just 30 miles at its longest, and 3 miles at its widest points— but it possesses just the right soils and climate characteristics to foster an overwhelming number and variety of legendary wines.

Published: 7/01/2016

UNARGUABLY, THE NAPA VALLEY has set the benchmark for American wine. Geographically, the valley is long and lean— just 30 miles at its longest, and 3 miles at its widest points— but it possesses just the right soils and climate characteristics to foster an overwhelming number and variety of legendary wines. Home to 15 distinctive sub-appellations and more than 500 wineries, the NapaValley offers enough wine country experiences to last even the most arduous wine enthusiast a couple of years! Besides tasting rooms on the valley floor, surrounding mountain slopes, and charming towns, visitors can delve into the amazing gourmet dining scene. For lodging, there’s everything from luxury resorts to cozy B&Bs. With so many options, it’s easy to run short on time, so here’s a list of experiences not to be missed.

Fun tours
For a real feel for winemaking, Grgich Hills Estate’s Grape Stomp invites guests to kick off their shoes and stomp grapes. After stomping, a flight of three wines is served and guests take home souvenirTshirts marked with their own footprints.This tour is seasonal, but the Unforgettable tour that starts in the vineyard and concludes with a wine and cheese pairing, is unforgettable, too.

The view at the southernmost part of the NapaValley is something to behold, and Jamieson RanchVineyards provides an ideal vantage point. Make an appointment for the JRV Experience, which gives you a tour of the winery, plus a guided food and wine pairing. Be sure to spend a little extra time on the veranda and admire the view that can stretch all the way to San Pablo Bay.

Whether you’re planning your first or your twenty-first visit to the NapaValley, there’s a lot to be said for hiring BeauWine Tours to show you the way. Besides an excellent itinerary and a professional driver, you’re bound to see more, learn more,and get more out of the day. For the basics, there’s the Intro to Napa Valley Tour and for a real adventure, there’s the NapaValley Balloon Ride & Tour Package.

A reservation is required for a Historical Tour & Tasting at the estate of Stags’ LeapWinery but it is well worth it.The estate is a magical place and the wines are divine.

Music and art
For a unique wine tasting with a musical touch, Peju presents Alan’s Cabernet Cabaret, featuring beloved Peju wine ambassador, Alan Anopole. Alan is creative, and the wines are phenomenal, so guests are sure to have a good time. Sit back and taste through the winery’s current releases while you enjoy Alan’s original raps, poems, and songs about the wines.

Displaying the largest art collection of any Napa Valley winery, The Hess Collection provides free public access to the contemporary art collection of Donald Hess. The artwork, which represents only about 20 percent of his collection, is absolutely stunning. Regular tours are self-guided, but you can arrange for a private tour with an advance reservation.

Intriguing places
The new winery architecture of Materra| Cunat Family Vineyards is getting many oohs and ahhs.The library room floor is made of clear glass so guests can look down onto the soil of the vineyard. Even the restrooms are so unique that guests have asked to have their tastings there.There are plans for a small museum soon as well.

Beringer Vineyards is a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.The Rhine House, built in 1884, has just reopened after a magnificent refurbishing, so it’s a great time to visit and see the beautiful refreshed interiors. For a close-up view of the OldWinery and its dark, historic tunnels, take the Legacy CaveTour.

Just chillin’
In downtown Napa, Eleven ElevenWines celebrates the culture of wine, food, art, and entertainment in an unconventional tasting room. The owners have transformed the giant space into an urban chic setting with a variety of sitting areas. Music plays in the background, creating a lounge-like atmosphere that appeals to visitors and locals alike.

If you want easy access to the performing arts, museums, and restaurants of downtown Napa, TheWestinVerasa Napa is a great choice. Besides providing fine hotel amenities and the critically acclaimed restaurant, La Toque, guests enjoy short strolls to Oxbow Public Market, the Napa Valley Wine Train station, and the peaceful riverfront walkway.

Each weekend during the spring, summer, and fall, V. Sattui Winery & Marketplace throws aWeekend BBQ. Barbecued ribs, tri-tip steaks, grilled prawns, and Italian sausage sandwiches are served as well as thin crust pizzas from the winery’s wood-fired pizza oven.V. Sattui’s Artisan Deli & Marketplace is open daily, and for many, a picnic on the two acres of shaded picnic grounds is a family tradition.

Terrific tastings
ArtesaVineyards &Winery is a feast for the eyes and the palate. TheTapas &Wine Pairing starts with a chocolate truffle paired with the winery’s Grand Reserve Sparkling Wine. After a tour, there’s a delicious pairing of tapas from local vendors andArtesa wines including Albariño andTempranillo.

It’s only fitting that Robert Mondavi Winery, a center for gracious hospitality, should have an extensive program of tours and tastings. For the ultimate epicurean experience make a reservation for one of the lunch and dinner experiences. Everything is freshly prepared by the winery’s in-house chef, and many of the ingredients come from the winery’s estate garden.

EtudeWines has a great line-up of tasting experiences including The Study of Pinot Noir, where guests learn how terroir influences the varietal’s aromas and flavors by sampling Pinots from different growing areas.

Calistoga’s cozy tasting room where Huge BearWines are now poured was once a bank. Perch yourself at a high top table and enjoy the wines while you hear bear stories and other lore as you watch the passersby. Often recommended by locals, this winery keeps things simple and genuine—and that’s an experience in itself.

The dramatic ascent via gondola to the Sterling Vineyards entrance is a fabulous wine country experience—but it doesn’t stop there.The winery’s Food andWine Pairing features a tantalizing platter of carefully selected cheeses and charcuterie.The platters are designed for two wine tasters and there is plenty for both.All of the ingredients are locally sourced and prepared by gourmet chefs. Bon appétit!

Silverado Resort and Spa hosts many marvelous culinary events all year long. The “Chef and Somm” dinner series is an interactive experience led by Chef Pablo Jacinto and Sommelier Chris Costas. Each dinner features three courses with wine pairings. Reservations are required for this and other evening events. Stop in any time at the resort’s new Silverado Market & Bakery for a delicious fresh breakfast or goodies for a picnic.

For a multi-sensory wine tasting experience, B Cellars Vineyards &Winery offers in-depthWine Journeys and Culinary Adventures by appointment. Among the tempting options is the Chef’s Garden Pairing, a farm-to-table, four-course wine and food pairing that sources ingredients from the winery’s own garden and neighboring ranches.


As seen in the issue Summer/Fall 2016 of Touring & Tasting Magazine.