Your Napa Valley Winery Guide, Part Two

We continue to explore Napa's must-visit wineries, from estates with fine art to the best food pairing options and where to go for rare and special bottles.
The Napa Valley / Getty

The Napa Valley is just 30 miles long and a handful of miles across. Yet, it’s so packed with attractions and distractions that it can be difficult to figure out where to begin. There are multiple ways to plan a visit depending on who’s going and for how long. Is it a quiet and reflective trip you seek, or a more broad, introductory experience? No matter your preference, we’ve got you covered with these destination recommendations.

Jump back and see Part One of our comprehensive Napa Valley winery guide.

Wine and Food Pairing Experiences

More and more wineries across the Napa Valley are offering bites tailored specifically for the wines they produce. These are the Napa pairing experiences you need to need to check out next time you find yourself in Northern California.

B Cellars Napa Valley
B Cellars

B Cellars

Along the Oakville Cross Road, B Cellars knows food. Rather than a standard menu, it pairs its wines via a series of “experiences”. “Sojourn” is the lightest offering, providing a mix of wines with cheeses. The “Oakville Trek” includes a foray through B Cellars’ gardens, followed by seasonal pairing of B-Bites. Meanwhile, for the truly hungry, the “Chef’s Garden Pairing” is four courses of farm-to-table fare served indoors or out. Book ahead; bcellars.com.

Domaine Carneros
Domaine Carneros

Domaine Carneros

On a hillside that overlooks its estate in Carneros, this sparkling wine producer offers a beautiful terrace from which to taste its portfolio. The food menu includes a selection of local cheeses and charcuterie, along with smoked salmon and caviar. Tastings are held daily, with reservations required; domainecarneros.com.

Two Birds One Stone
Chefs Sang Yoon and Douglas Keane of Freemark Abbey/Two Birds/One Stone

Freemark Abbey/Two Birds/One Stone

This northern St. Helena-based winery is one of the few with a full restaurant attached, the recently opened Two Birds/One Stone, a California-inspired yakitori restaurant led by chefs Douglas Keane and Sang Yoon. The winery also offers courtyard tastings of its wines with light bites from the market café. Reservations recommended; freemarkabbey.com.

Your Napa Valley Winery Guide, Part One
Robert Mondavi Winery
Robert Mondavi Winery

Robert Mondavi Winery

The place where much of Napa Valley’s sophistication in pairings blossomed, Mondavi devotes a large portion of its property to culinary exploration. Programs begin with small bites like chocolate and cheese, evolving into comprehensive lunch and dinner experiences, including a four-course Five Decades Dinner library wine tasting. Book ahead; robertmondaviwinery.com.

Round Pond Estate
Round Pond Estate

Round Pond Estate

This Rutherford wine producer celebrates the bounty of its expansive on-site gardens with their four-hour Garden to Table Brunch each Sunday. The experience begins with a tour of the gardens, followed by a cooking demonstration and wine pairing. Round Pond also makes olive oil and red wine vinegar onsite. Book ahead; roundpond.com.

Check out Part One of our Napa Winery Guide

The Best Classic Vineyards

Word of Mouth Favorites

Off the Beaten Track Gems

Wineries with Art

There’s no denying that the natural beauty of the Napa Valley is its own form of art, but a growing number of wineries are devoting themselves to curating and exhibiting galleries of their own, showcasing everything from paintings to sculpture and photography.

Hall Wines
Hall Wines

Hall

The proprietors of Hall are serious art collectors and have much of their collection on display to the public at their properties. Guided tours are available to view the mostly modern pieces, from paintings to a 35-foot-tall stainless steel rabbit (anointed Bunny Foo Foo) that leaps from Hall Street Helena Vineyard; hallwines.com.

The Hess Collection
The Hess Collection

The Hess Collection

Proprietor Donald Hess is a longtime collector of art. He shares much of his collection within the winery’s walls and grounds, where he remains faithful to the 20 artists whose works he supports. The Museum Walk is a guided tour of the Hess Collection Art Museum offered with a wine tasting, or you can wander on your own without charge. (Note: The second floor of the museum is currently closed for renovations, but the rest of the museum is open. Please contact the winery for details about The Museum Walk; hesscollection.com.

Mumm Napa
Mumm Napa

Mumm Napa

This sparkling wine producer cultivates a gallery of fine art photography, offering a lovely, peaceful place to peruse works by a rotating selection of artists. Gorgeous prints of Western landscapes by Ansel Adams are a regular feature of the gallery, where wandering with a glass of wine is allowed. mummnapa.com.

Peju Province Winery
Peju Province Winery

Peju

Manicured gardens meet art and wine at this Rutherford-based estate along Highway 29. While many of its sculptures are outside amongst the trees and plants, it also maintains The Christopher Hill Gallery inside, a showcase for new artists from around the world. peju.com.

Sterling Vineyards
Sterling Vineyards

Sterling Vineyards

The only vineyard in the Napa Valley with its own aerial tram, the ride up to mountaintop winery offers sweeping views and a unique way to reach the Sterling Art Collection. There you can find original works by Picasso, Renoir and Chagall, in addition to a photo essay from Ansel Adams. General admission is $29 for adults, who will have the chance to taste current release wines, while those under 21 can tour for $15 (children under 3 are free); sterlingvineyards.com.

Breaking Out the Good/Rare Stuff

While many Napa Valley tasting rooms and wineries have special offerings tucked behind the counter, some are notable for their more unique experiences, including options such as library vintages or small-lot production wines to sample.

Alpha Omega Winery
Alpha Omega Winery

Alpha Omega

While this highly respected producer’s tasting room is open daily, schedule a private appointment for a chance to try current releases and other offerings available only to wine-club members. Also worth trying is the Taste of To Kalon, an opportunity to sample at least four vintages side by side of Alpha Omega’s famous Cabernet Sauvignon; aowinery.com.

Beaulieu Vineyard
Beaulieu Vineyard

Beaulieu Vineyard

The crème de la crème of experiences at this Rutherford winery—one of Napa’s most historically important—is the Georges de Latour Private Reserve Vertical Tasting. It’s a five-year vertical of this world-famous wine, and also includes a special sampling of one older, library vintage. Reservations are required for this special offering, which goes for $125/person; bvwines.com.

Corison Winery
Corison Winery

Corison Winery

Offering appointments daily, Cathy Corison’s winery lies quietly along busy Highway 29 just south of St. Helena. While her structured, timeless bottlings are worth tasting on their own, the Corison Library Experience might be the best reason of all to make the trip to this winery. It’s a seated tasting of older-vintage Cabernet Sauvignon, occasionally including samplings of other small-lot varietal wines. The experience ($55) is offered hourly beginning at 10 am; corison.com.

Robert Biale Winery
Robert Biale Winery

Robert Biale Vineyards

This Zinfandel specialist is a rare breed in Cab-heavy Napa. It’s approach is unique to the region— employing winemaking techniques more commonly used to make Pinot Noir, including the use of French oak barrels. The Zinner Sanctum Private Tasting is a chance to go deep into Biale’s low-production, limited-release Zinfandels and Petite Sirahs. By appointment only; biale.com.

Published on May 31, 2017
Topics: Wine Destinations
About the Author
Virginie Boone
Contributing Editor

Reviews wines from California.

Contributing Editor Virginie Boone has been with Wine Enthusiast since 2010, and reviews the wines of Napa and Sonoma. Boone began her writing career with Lonely Planet travel guides, which eventually led to California-focused wine coverage. She contributes to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and Sonoma Magazine, and is a regular panelist and speaker on wine topics in California and beyond. Email: vboone@wineenthusiast.net




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