Ahhh, Napa Valley. Whether you're a wine connoisseur, enthusiast, or newbie, there's something for everyone. Living in the Bay Area makes it easy to take the 1.5 hour (give or take, depending on what city) drive up to the beautiful valley. Over the years, we've visited lots of wineries. Here are our top recommendations.
Go for the view: Sterling Vineyard. Sterling is set atop a small mountain, and for either $29 or $39, you get a ride up to the top via the aerial lift, and either a regular or premium tasting, along with a tour of the winery. The winery has spectacular views of the valley, and a small bistro from which you can order light appetizers and wine (of course) while enjoying the view!
Go for the food: V. Sattui. This is my all-time favorite winery. Don't even think about skipping it when you visit Napa. It tends to be crowded, but that's because it's so amazing. V. Sattui is one of the few wineries where you can also buy food, and they certainly do not waste that opportunity. The food there is fantastic. My favorites are the crab cakes, and the dijon prawns. I've had quite a few different things there including the jambalaya, truffle mac n cheese, and some of the dessert offerings. Everything is amazing. As a bonus, they offer a picnic area where you can enjoy the California sunshine along with your food and a bottle of your favorite wine. Seriously, don't skip this place.
Go for the grounds: Beringer or Robert Mondavi. Beringer is set on a beautiful historic estate. The first picture of this post is the Rhine House at Beringer, where they have wine tasting and host special events. Robert Mondavi has a stunning tasting room with floor to ceiling windows and views of nothing but.... yep, you guessed, vineyards. It's especially beautiful during the summer and fall when the leaves are at their lushest green and then begin to transform into a beautiful array of gold, rust, and oxblood.
Go for the wine: Rombauer. Rombauer's cozy little tasting room is set atop a hill overlooking part of the valley. There you will find a variety of robust reds, and as a bonus: great views.
Go with a group: Stag's Leap. So basically all of the wineries I've been to are stunning. Stag's Leap is also stunning and has the option to do private group tastings. Stag's Leap is on the outer area of the Valley, so there are stunning views of the surrounding hills, which are visible from the private tasting room. Outside the tasting room, there's a patio, which would be a great area to enjoy your wine in the summer time, and is also quite picturesque with vineyards and rolling hills at your backdrop.
Honestly, everywhere in Napa is great. I've been many times and I can't remember a single bad experience. If you live in the area or plan to frequent Napa, you may want to consider memberships at your favorite wineries. Many wineries only require that you sign up for regular wine shipments (usually quarterly), and in return you and typically a few guests are provided with free tastings every time you visit and the opportunity to book exclusive tasting rooms and participate in special events. If you drink wine or entertain regularly enough to consume the shipments, it's worth it!
What's your favorite Napa winery? What did we miss?