Here at The Wine Daily, we’re frequently asked for our top Napa Valley winery tasting recommendations. The answer? It depends on what you are looking for. A tasting of reserve wines can be delightful to a wine aficionado, but a complete snooze for tourists seeking a scenic vineyard experience. We’ve categorized our list by interest to make it easier to find the tasting that’s right for you.
One caveat: this isn’t a list of the biggest names in Napa. We’ve visited one too many major wineries hyped up by guidebooks and the press, that had disappointingly mediocre wine. So, we’ve compiled our top destinations that offer a great experience without compromising on the quality of the wine.
Here’s a map and shortlist of our top Napa Valley winery experiences:
For Farm-to-Table Foodies:
Robert Sinskey Vineyards
If food and wine go hand in hand for you, Robert Sinskey Vineyards is the place to go. Sinskey practices a “whole farm” philosophy that encourages natural processes. The vineyard has beehives, sheep to mow cover crops, solar power, and plenty of other organic and biodynamic practices. Sinskey is an incredibly versatile winemaker, creating everything from rich, lush Cabernet Sauvignon to crisp, refreshing rosé. Sinskey’s wife, an award-winning chef and cookbook author, helms the kitchen. Tastings range from wines paired with seasonal bites ($40) to a full tour of the culinary gardens, vineyards, caves, and cellars followed by a five course tasting of seasonal dishes paired with current and library RSV releases. Reserve or learn more here.
For California Cab Lovers:
Pride Mountain Vineyards
Pride Mountain Vineyards is the epitome of a classic California Cabernet: rich, velvety tannins wrapped around a concentrated core of dark fruit. Cab lovers will enjoy complex, nuanced wines that are still reasonably priced. A tasting and cave tour is $30, by appointment only. Since the winery is slightly out of the way from the main roads of Napa, consider hitting it up on your way between Napa and Sonoma. Reserve or learn more here.
Silver Oak is renowned amongst Cabernet Sauvignon aficionados for its ageworthy Bordeaux blends balancing silky-smooth tannins and expressive aromatics. The winery produces only Cabernet Sauvignon as its specialty. Winery experiences include walk-in tastings ($30), food and wine pairings from the Silver Oak Kitchen, including house-cured meats and seasonal herbs and vegetables from the garden ($75), and a winery tour and tasting ($40). Reserve or learn more here.
For Sparkling Enthusiasts:
Skip tourist-packed Mumm and Chandon for one of California’s better-kept sparkling secrets, Schramsberg Vineyards. Here, you’ll discover a wide range of sparkling wine styles, all beautifully made. From the vibrant, flavorful Blanc de Blancs to the rich, layered, small-batch J. Schram cuvée, newcomers and Schramsberg fans alike will find new wines to discover. A tasting and cave tour is $30, by appointment only. Reserve or learn more here.
Great for Groups:
Particularly in the summertime, Caymus Vineyards hits all the marks: approachable, crowd-pleasing wines, ample space for groups, and an accessible price point. The staff is extremely hospitable and gives groups just the right amount of attention, allowing them to enjoy the experience without a rush. Book one of the group lounge areas to relax with a tasting in the beautifully-landscaped garden. Caymus’ rich, fruit-forward, full-bodied red blends are easy crowd-pleasers all levels of wine drinkers should enjoy. A tasting is $50 and includes five Wagner family wines – Caymus, Mer Soleil, Emmolo and Conundrum. Appointments are required for groups of six or more. Reserve or learn more here.
Last Stop of the Day:
Alpha Omega Winery
Most wineries close by 4:30 PM. If you’re trying to kill time until your dinner reservation, swing by Alpha Omega, which is open until 6 PM. The winery is conveniently situated along Highway 29, and offers a relaxed setting to enjoy wine in the main tasting room or on the outdoor terrace. Alpha Omega is known for its balanced, elegant-yet-concentrated Bordeaux-style blends and artisan winemaking. All grapes are hand-harvested, fermented naturally, and unfined and unfiltered (read: less hangover risk!). Tastings start at $50. While reservations are not required, we recommend calling ahead as Alpha Omega sometimes has member events that can cause a crowd. Reserve or learn more here.
Family and Dog Friendly:
Frog’s Leap Winery
There’s are many things to love about Frog’s Leap. Its picturesque garden provides plenty of diversion for kids and pets, while guests enjoy wines from a shaded tasting area. Another feel-good factor: all grapes are dry-farmed and certified organically grown. Frog’s Leap is known for its balanced Bordeaux blends that attain rich, dark fruit flavors without tasting overly extracted. Tastings start at $25; appointments are recommended. Reserve or learn more here.