Best Wineries to Visit in Napa
Napa Valley is a mecca for wine lovers. Thousands come every year to enjoy the sprawling vineyards, Michelin-starred restaurants, and charming towns. But the valley’s main draw will always be the wine. The only issue is how do you choose the best wineries to visit in Napa when there are over 400 to choose from?
To help you choose the top wineries, I have assembled a list of my 10 favorites. If you don’t know much about me, you might assume travel is my only area of expertise. But I actually used to make wine as a cellar worker at Cakebread Cellars. So I know a thing or two about fine wine, and I am familiar with the best the region has to offer.
Top 10 Wineries to Visit in Napa
This list isn’t arranged in any order. Each winery has its own charm and offers something different for you to enjoy. I recommend you find the winery that best suits your interests. But all 10 of the wineries made it on to the list for their superb wine, tasting experience, and overall value.
Established in 2006, Alpha Omega is a relatively new winery in the area. But its refined vintages have been turning heads year after year. With gripping tannins and vibrant fruit, Alpha Omega’s wine showcases the best Napa Valley has to offer. The winery’s production is also relatively low, making their bottles some of the most sought after wine in the area.
Although the wine is delicious anywhere, it is best enjoyed on their tasting room terrace. While you bathe in the hot, California sun, you can watch the winery’s babbling fountains and the stunning, Mayacamas Mountains beyond.
Tasting Price: From $75
Having worked at Cakebread Cellars myself, I have a special appreciation for the wine. But it’s an objective truth that Cakebread Cellars has one of the greatest and most recognizable Chardonnays in all of Napa. The buttery mouthfeel and crisp notes of pear and toasted oak are sure to win you over. But Cakebread produces several phenomenal varietals that showcase Napa’s diverse terroir.
In any case, what makes Cakebread one of the best wineries to visit in Napa is the tasting experience. Try the wine and food tasting for an educational and enjoyable pairing. All meals are prepared by the resident winery chefs with fresh ingredients grown on property.
Tasting Price: From $50
Château Montelena earned prestige when its Chardonnay beat the best of France at the 1976 Judgment of Paris. But 1976 was just the start because Château Montelena continues to question traditional methods and forge its own path. Be it Chardonnay or Cabernet, Riesling or Zinfandel, they strive to grow and improve with the times.
Beautiful, age-worthy wines aside, the Montelena Estate is a stunning, French château covered in ivy. The rustic, old world charm instantly transports you to France while offering the peaceful vineyard views you expect. With historic wines and breathtaking scenery, Château Montelena is in many ways the quintessential Napa experience.
Tasting Price: From $55
Del Dotto Estate Winery & Caves
Marked by a signature Venetian style, Del Dotto’s winery radiates class. With fanciful mosaics and stunning marble columns, Del Dotto rests comfortably on the border of gaudy and grandeur.
Over the top? Maybe. But the bold look is an accurate reflection of Del Dotto’s bold wines. The winery focuses on small production, premium wines. From the vine to the barrel, every ounce of wine is meticulously cared for, and it shows in the polished flavor of Del Dotto’s numerous varietals.
In a similar way, your visit to Del Dotto is hard to forget. Your tasting experience will lead you into the moody caves, where a myriad of toasted barrels wait for your sampling. It’s a more rustic experience than some of the other wineries in the area. Plus, unlike many wineries in Napa, Del Dotto isn’t stingy. Chances are you’ll get tipsy.
Location: St. Helena
Tasting Price: From $120
When it comes to sparkling wine, Domaine Carneros is the biggest name in Napa. So if you have a hankering for a Brut Cuvée, there really is no better place to visit. Domaine Carneros takes its craft seriously and tries hard to emulate the fine wineries of Champagne, France.
That emulation extends beyond the production of wine. Domaine Carneros is a luxurious French château with manicured gardens, sunny terraces, and a heavily adorned interior. You can’t help but feel like French royalty while sipping on some bubbles and dining on caviar.
Location: Los Carneros
Tasting Price: From $40
Far Niente looks like something out of a fairy tale. The charming, stone building sits among verdant gardens and expansive vineyards. Add in the imposing wine caves, and you have yourself a magical paradise ready to be explored.
Far Niente is actually Italian for “without a care.” But don’t let that fool you. Far Niente takes great pride in its wine and has some of the most sophisticated Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley. Their Chardonnay in particular distinguishes itself due to a lack of malolactic fermentation. In layman’s speak, this means the grape retains its bright acidity, giving it more vitality in the wine’s youth and a developed palate over time.
Tasting Price: From $90
The Hess Collection
Some of the best wineries to visit in Napa are company-owned, but Hess is family-owned and family-led. And you can tell they have their heart in the right place. Hess pursues sustainable farming and winemaking practices all while making highly acclaimed wines.
Located on one of Napa’s oldest wineries, Hess has an enviable spot among the steep slopes of Mount Veeder. The unique mountain location gives a distinctive and expressive flavor that can compete with any of the best wineries to visit in Napa.
But Hess has something most other wineries do not: a contemporary art collection. There are pieces by famous artists, such as Andy Goldsworthy and Robert Rauschenberg. That means Hess is the perfect intersection of wine, art, and a good time.
Location: Mount Veeder
Tasting Price: From $85
History was made in 1980 when iconic vintners Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi teamed up to produce a single wine: Opus One. Since then, the Opus One Winery has been one of the hottest wineries in Napa. Although they produce only two wines, both are highly regarded and sought after.
Tasting at Opus One is an educational event. They take their wine seriously and are eager to educate you on their high standards and French and American influences. For a more practical lesson, opt for the “Art of the Table” tasting experience. They’ll teach you how to pair the best food with the best wine.
Whatever you choose, book your visit well in advance. Reservations fill up quick.
Tasting Price: From $100
Robert Mondavi Winery
Wherever you go in Napa, you will hear his name. Robert Mondavi built the first major winery in Napa after prohibition. His footprint is all over the valley. For history’s sake, the Robert Mondavi Winery is absolutely worth a visit.
Chances are you’re familiar with Mondavi’s affordable wines from the grocery store or local liquor store. But Mondavi Winery is the heart of fine wine in Napa Valley. Only by visiting the winery can you experience the full array of varietals they offer.
The Robert Mondavi Winery also has a vibrant culinary program. I would recommend the Vineyard to Table Lunch. Enjoy locally-sourced dishes paired with estate wines all while relaxing on a patio with beautiful vineyard views.
Tasting Price: From $65
Stags’ Leap Winery
Just as Château Montelena’s Chardonnay won big in the 1976 Judgement of Paris, Stags’ Leap became a historic winner with its Cabernet Sauvignon. Since then, Stags’ Leap has only built on its legacy with decades of critically acclaimed Cabernet.
As noteworthy as the wine is, so too is the winery itself. Stags’ Leap is a stone castle with stained glass and coffered ceilings. You can enjoy the interior while sipping on a robust glass of red, or you can take the drinks to the porch to enjoy the mountain views. And if you want to see where the magic happens, take one of their cave tours.
Location: Stags Leap
Tasting Price: From $75