Napa Valley is the most important wine region in the United States. It was the first American wine region to be fully internationally recognized for producing high-quality wines. And, the Valley has risen to the challenge with world-famous places to eat, drink, and stay.
In this Napa wine tasting guide, we explore wineries, tours, restaurants, and hotels in to craft the ultimate wine country experience for Winetravelers.
IN THIS GUIDE:
- Wineries along St. Helena Hwy
- Wineries along the Silverado Trail
- Travel Logistics
- …and more
St. Helena Highway runs north and south through most of the towns that dot Napa Valley. In fact, visitors can get a great overview of Napa Valley’s various AVAs just by driving along it! The following wineries can be found on or just off of St Helena Highway (aka Route 29/128), from south to north.
1 California Drive, Yountville
Why Guests Love It: Sparkling Wine, VIP Service, Food & Bubbly Pairings
Every wine tasting tour should start with bubbly, and Domaine Chandon is here to heed the call! Located just off St Helena Highway, the serene grounds provide the perfect backdrop to sip some sparkling and soak in the good life. Cheers!
Nickel & Nickel
8164 St Helena Hwy, Oakville
Why Guests Love It: Single Vineyard Cabernets, Library Wines, Exceptional Service
Since Napa Cabs are really what put California on the global winemaking map, be sure to stop off at Nickel & Nickel. With a range of single vineyard Cabernets to try, it’s a fascinating trip through Napa terroir, all with premier white glove service. Try some older vintages if they’re available to see how beautifully Napa Cab can age.
8338 St Helena Hwy, Rutherford
Why Guests Love It: Classic Cabernets, Boutique Feel, Food & Wine Pairings
Sequoia Grove is almost the little engine that could in Napa, not because it’s any less mighty but because it’s lowkey and relaxed. It’s definitely worth stopping in, though, because the wood-timber building surrounded by sequoias and cypresses gives a distinctive Northern Californian feel. Everything produced is fantastic but take note of the quintessential cedar notes in their Cabs. They’re a standout.
1829 St Helena Hwy, Rutherford
Why Guests Love It: Historical Winery, Picnic Tastings, Eco-Focused
Named after its founders, Mike Grgich and Austin Hills, Grgich Hills is one of the more legendary wineries in Napa. Founded in 1977, it has consistently produced stellar wines to be tasted in an equally stellar stone building. Bonus: As of 2006, it uses only estate-grown fruit from its organic, biodynamic, and solar powered winery.
987 St Helena Hwy, St Helena
Why Guests Love It: Critically Acclaimed Wines, Female Winemaker, Vineyard Views
True trailblazers seem in short supply these days but thankfully Cathy Corison is still here. Year in and year out, she crafts award-winning Cabs from specific vineyard designations. She also produces a stunning Gewürztraminer and Riesling, both of which sing when paired with food. Be sure to snap up what you can because her wines consistently sell out.
401 St Helena Hwy South, St Helena
Why Guests Love It: Stunning Artwork, Female Winemaker, Exceptional Wines
If the whimsical rabbit sculpture isn’t enough to make you stop, the wines most certainly will! Kathryn Hall comes by her craft genetical, having worked in her family’s vineyards north in Mendocino before striking out on her own. And although the Cabs are fabulous, cross the varietal line and taste their Merlots. You’ll be wowed.
The Salon at Heitz Cellar
436 St Helena Hwy, St Helena
Why Guests Love It: Historical Winery, Cheese & Charcuterie Boards, Age-Worthy Wines
Heitz has been around since 1961 – yes, you read that correctly. Everything about Heitz speaks to tradition, from the vineyard selections to the woodblock-esque labels. It’s worth stocking up here and laying some down to age because Heitz is known to develop beautifully for years.
3022 St Helena Hwy N, St Helena
Why Guests Love It: Historical Winery, Stunning Architecture, Library Wines
Housed in a historic stone building that dates back to 1899, Freemark Abbey has consistently been a winery for over a century (except that during that little hiccup known as Prohibition). It further cemented its name in oenological history by being one of only twelve wineries invited to compete in the 1976 Judgement of Paris. Today, the wines remain standouts and tasting here brings guests on a trip through Napa history.
1111 W Dunaweal Lane, Calistoga
Why Guests Love It: Breathtaking Views, Tram Rides, Award Winning Wines
Sterling Vineyards unfortunately sustained significant damage during the Glass Fire of 2020 and has since been undergoing reconstruction. The good news for everyone is that it is due to reopen in the Spring of 2023! Sterling has been a longtime favorite because of the stunning views. Plan ahead to book a tour that includes a tram ride to the top of the vista point and sip through their lineup. It’s worth the wait.
Tank Garage Winery
1020 Foothill Blvd, Calistoga
Why Guests Love It: Art Deco Architecture, Intriguing Wines, Small Production
Of all wine tasting experiences through Napa, Tank Garage is probably the most unique because it’s located in a 1930s Art Deco gas station! Tank isn’t for the faint-of-heart – the people there are known for sprinkling salty language around, but they sure provide a fun experience. The wines are just as interesting with everything from orange pét-nat to carbonic Grenache.
Silverado Trail runs somewhat parallel to St Helena Highway on the east side of Napa. The two are close enough together to make it very easy to toggle between, but Silverado is decidedly quieter because village centers are found on St Helena Highway.
1429 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga
Why Guests Love It: Stunning Architecture, Napa History, VIP Service
Chateau Montelena is the perfect start to a day of winetasting. This gorgeous stone chateau is home to some legendary wines, including the Chardonnay that beat out white Burgundies in the 1976 Judgement of Paris. Taste through their elegant line up of Cabs or go rogue and try their Riesling – everything is stunning.
Clos Pegase Winery
1060 Dunaweal Ln, Calistoga
Why Guests Love It: Sleek Architecture, Quirky Sculptures, Cave Tours
Clos Pegase breaks rank with modern architecture and the quirky “friendship bench” but the wines are no less delightful. With a range of flight options, guests are encouraged to taste through all that Napa has to offer in a relaxing, elegant environment. Be sure to try all of the reds.
Honig Vineyard & Winery
850 Rutherford Rd, Rutherford
Why Guests Love It: Eco Tours, Sustainable Winery, Fabulous Whites
Honig means ‘honey’ in German, which is denoted with the whimsical bees on Honig labels. And, Honig is true to its love of bees by being certified sustainable and solar powered. Book the Eco tour to learn all about Honig’s green practices before tasting through some beautiful wines, including their Sauvignon Blanc.
8445 Silverado Trail, Rutherford
Why Guests Love It: Beautiful Views, Classic Sparkling Wine, Cheese Pairings
Is it bubbly time yet? Mumm Napa provides the best of French winemaking and Napa views. Guests can choose to taste through the delightful sparkling wines in a variety of settings, from patio seating to terrace tasting with cheese pairings.
8383 Silverado Trail, Napa
Why Guests Love It: Beautiful Views, Organic Farming, Warm Hospitality
Although technically in another town, ZD is just down the road from Mumm and is definitely worth the stop. While ZD may be smaller than some of the huge Napa wineries, it is no less impressive and produces rich, luscious wines that manage to maintain perfect balance. Taste through the lineup, or book a tour with sample of library wines.
6126 Siverado Trail, Napa
Why Guests Love It: Quirky Atmosphere, Estate Tours, Food & Wine Pairings
And now for something completely different! To experience Quixote Winery is to experience a quirky, carnivalesque atmosphere while tasting through intriguing, small production wines. All fruit sourced from Stags Lead District, their wines sell out quickly so be sure to stock up while you can.
Stags’ Leap Winery
6150 Silverado Trail, Napa
Why Guests Love It: Historic Winery, Beautiful Views, Exceptional Service
Stags’ Leap is another legendary Napa winery and is a must for those wanting to taste through the best the valley has to offer. Indulge in a porch tasting to experience the stunning views alongside the stunning wines. And, be sure to grab a bottle of Petite Sirah, which is a perennial favorite among critics.
Clos du Val Winery
5330 Silverado Trail, Napa
Why Guests Love It: Stunning Views, Creative Events, High End Hospitality
Clos du Val is nestled back among the vines, providing a picturesque experience for visitors. Book a tasting in advance, or check out events like Apéro nights, or sparkling wine brunches. No matter what you try, you’ll love the attention to detail that weaves through both the wines and the estate.
4240 Silverado Trail, Napa
Why Guests Love It: Stunning Architecture, Luxurious Pairings, Exceptional Service
Darioush is sort of like Madonna or Cher in that it needs no other name: Darioush is enough. And, for those that know it, the name Darioush means opulence and grandeur unlike anything else in Napa. Grounded in Persian culture, hospitality is elevated to an art form here. Be sure to reserve the Signature Mezza tasting to try the wines alongside traditional Persian mezze plates.
Judd’s Hill Winery & MicroCrush
2332 Silverado Trail, Napa
Why Guests Love It: Small Production, Family Owned, Relaxed Environment
Judd’s Hill is an anomaly in Napa because it’s lowkey and very hands on. Still family owned, guests are encouraged to book tastings, pairings, or even play winemaker and blend their own wines! Another charming experience is their annual poetry contest, for which winners receive a 3-liter bottle but the real prize is being part of this 20+ year tradition.
While we’re thrilled to share our favorite wineries throughout Napa, we’re also big believers in letting the local pros do the heavy lifting. Here are some of the best guided and private tours that take the guesswork out of navigating Napa.
Platypus Tours Limited offers the perfect way to have a more intimate experience while tasting fabulous wines and not worry about driving. (Designated drivers are the heroes we need!) This half-day wine tasting tour takes you to three exceptional wineries and also includes a complimentary picnic lunch. Hotel pickup/dropoff are also included.
It doesn’t get much better when you’re able to blend the great outdoors with an awesome authentic wine tasting experience. Napa Native Wine Tours offers a full-day guided tour, beginning the day with a morning hike through some of Napa’s redwood forests and mountainscapes. In the afternoon, this particular experience focuses on boutique wineries, so you’ll avoid the crowds and some of the more corporate setups. Hotel pickup and dropoff is also offered, with the option to include lunch.
Step back in time and try the Napa Valley Open Air Wine Trolley! This throwback trolley lets you soak up the vibe throughout the experience, with a stop-off for lunch.
One of the more iconic experiences any Napa visitor should try (especially if it’s your first time), is to see the Valley from the air. Napa Valley Balloons offers a wine country hot air balloon ride, a breathtaking way to experience Napa. The company also flies drones in tandem to capture images of the experience that you can take home with you.
Oxbow Public Market
610 1st St, Napa
Oxbow is a great place to start the day and plan your attack. There are countless dining options, or you can stock up on nibbles to take with you. It’s almost like a mini Napa boiled down to offer everything you could possibly need for a luxurious day of wine tasting.
6534 Washington St, Yountville
Located just down the street from The French Laundry, Bouchon Bistro offers Thomas Keller’s vision in a lower-key setting. Think traditional bistro fare with the freshest ingredients, like moules au safran and steak frites. And, the stunning wine list is worth taking time to browse because it’s got some gems available by the glass.
933 Main St, St Helena
If you were to ask Siri to show you the most California dining option possible, she’d definitely pull up Gott’s Roadside. These unpretentious roadside joint offers classics like double cheeseburgers alongside kale salads and baja fish tacos. And, because it’s in wine country, its beverage offerings include everything from kombucha to high end Cabs.
Goose & Gander
1245 Spring St, St Helena
We love everything about Goose & Gander, from the adorable craftsman house that it occupies to the British-pub-meets-California menu that changes seasonally. The vegetarian options, like watermelon salad or fried squash blossoms, mean that vegetarians won’t be left in the cold.
6525 Washington St, Yountville
Spacious and rustic, Bottega offers delectable Italian in the heart of Yountville’s Gourmet Gulch. Classic dishes are paired with wine selections that are updated daily. Save room for dessert because they are to die for.
The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone
2555 Main St, St Helena
Support fine dining of the future by booking a fantastic evening at The Gatehouse, where students of the CIA (not that CIA) hone their culinary skills. Choose three or four course menus, with or without sommelier-selected pairings – just be sure to make class is in session before you go.
Meritage Resort and Spa
875 Bordeax Way, Napa
The Meritage Resort and Spa is the ultimate place to really indulge in the decadence of Napa. Even the basic rooms are perfection, while the suites take it to the next level. Amenities include everything from wine tastings to cooking class to wellness activities. And, bring your best friend: there’s an on-site dog park.
El Bonita Motel
195 Main St, St Helena
El Bonita hearkens back to the heyday of roadside motels in Americana. Basic accommodations in prime location make it the simple choice for an overnight after wine tasting. Book a poolside room for best access to the pool and hot tub.
4066 Howard Lane, Napa
SENZA is off-the-beaten path just enough to provide guests with peace and quiet without being too far from everything. Each room has vineyard and/or garden views and amenities include a pool, a hot tub, and cabanas. There are also spa services available, like massages and facials.
Wine Country Inn & Cottages
1152 Lodi Ln, St Helena
This locally-owned establishment offers rooms and cottages in vineyard tranquility. Guests can take a dip in the heated swimming pool before warming themselves next to cottage fireplaces. The concierge is more than happy to recommend the best of Napa, from wineries to restaurants and more. Take a look at their current room rates.
Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs
1507 Lincoln Ave, Calistoga
We can’t say enough about Calistoga, the often overlooked village at the north end of Napa. It’s quaint, it’s cool, and it’s got an unbeatable vibe. Dr. Wilkinson’s is the epitome of Calistoga. It’s got such a throwback quality that we can’t help but love it. Whether you want a swim in a mineral pool, an indulgent mud bath, or a frolic on a tree swing, Dr. Wilkinson’s has you covered.
Napa the city is towards the southern end of Napa the valley and is only about an hour north of San Francisco. Visitors coming from further afield can fly to either San Francisco International Airport or Oakland International Airport and drive from there. Since it is a quick jaunt from the Bay Area, it tends to be very busy on the weekends so midweek tastings often are the most relaxing (and available). You can check current flight deals into either airport right here.
Napa is also quite close to Sonoma Valley, which runs parallel on the west. However, mountain passes between the two are often very windy and can be quite dangerous to navigate, particularly at night. We recommend focusing on one valley or the other to fully enjoy the experience. Another great option is to leverage Green Dream Tours’ expertise to get a taste of both Napa and Sonoma on the same day. They offer round-trip transport from San Francisco, stopping at some exceptional boutique wineries in Sonoma and Napa.
You are reading “The Ultimate Guide to Wine Tasting in Napa: Best Wineries to Visit” Back To Top
napa wine tours, napa wineries, hotels and restaurants: trending destinations in California
If you enjoyed this guide, make sure you register to become a Winetraveler for free! You’ll get access to all of our content and receive useful guides and inspiration for travel around the world. Be sure to follow along with us on Instagram as we continue to feature more exciting destinations.