A commenter asked me an interesting question the other day:
If you had only had 3 days in Napa to hit the wine scene, what 3-5 wineries would you put on your list, if your objective is to have fun, mix it up at unique properties while sampling (and of course buying) some good wine? Not looking for anything too stuffy, but wineries that reflect the Napavore vibe.
Pfft! Easy! I thought and wrote down a few favorites.
And then I realized that no answer I give is going to be satisfactory to all (any?) of my readers. There are hundreds of amazing wineries in Napa Country (never mind beyond!) and selecting a very few means I will leave many of the best out.
So before I share my list with you, two important caveats: this is by no means a Best Of and if you asked me the same question next week, I would probably choose a whole new selection.
My criteria? The list below represents a range of house styles and geographical location, and I’ve chosen this list for the people at this wineries–as much as for the wine they produce. An important note: most of these wineries require arrangements made in advance, especially during the harvest season. (With smaller wineries, harvest crush is an “all hands on deck” situation.)
Some wineries are larger, and some are itty bitty, but you couldn’t go wrong by visiting any of these wineries:
- Paraduxx: Located just off the Silverado Trail between Yountville and Oakville Cross Roads, this sister winery to Duckhorn is as easy on the eyes and the wines are lovely on the palate. Paraduxx produces a range of tasty Zinfandel and Cabernet blends (here’s the full offering). Note: Harvest Celebration on Saturday, October 9!
- CADE: Located on Howell Mountain, this gorgeous winery is one I look forward to visiting. That’s right–I’m recommending a winery I haven’t been to! Numerous friends and associates have visited the winery, however, and have assured me this is a place to see with great wines on offer.
- Schramsberg: This Napa Valley sparkling house is a must-visit–a true gem, nestled in the mountainside north of St. Helena with lovely, sparkling wines.
- August Briggs: This small winery just south of Calistoga proper packs a lot of punch. I joined a friend of mine for a wine club event a couple of years ago and had a great time tasting the wines and talking to club members and winery staff.
- Pride Mountain Winery: Don’t be intimidated by the winery’s location at the tippy top of Spring Mountain. The staggering mountain-top views and terrific wines are well worth the windy road.
- Behrens Family Winery: This winery is also located at the top of Spring Mountain with incredible views. The wines are great, and I love the label artwork, which reflects the wit and good humor of the entire team.
- Fisher Vineyards: The winery location in the Mayacamas Mountains is also remote (I wrote about my visit here) but I loved the spot so much–and the people were so great–that I really have to include this on my list. Unfortunately, I didn’t taste the wines much when I visited (another reason why I must get back!) but judging from the other guests’ enthusiasm, the wines are enjoyable.
So there you are: a few great spots which reflect some of the variety, adventure and great wine that can be found in the Napa Valley. A few more than the requested 3-5, but I couldn’t hold back!
If you’ve visited any of the above, I’d love to hear about your experience–or tell me about your Must Visit winery!