The most important part of a trip to Napa… the wine! While the scenery is gorgeous, the food is amazing, (check out my full guide to Napa here), the main reason anyone visits Napa is to taste and drink all the yummy wines the region has to offer! Before we went to Napa, I did some research on the wineries we were going to visit, but in the end found that the best recommendations were from friends. So friends, here’s my own version of that- my Napa Winery Guide.
Domaine Carneros is a must- visit in my book. We went there for a tasting on their gorgeous patio. I had seen a bunch of pictures so was really excited as we drove up to see the beautiful chateau in person. It probably made it even more exciting because this was our first stop in Napa and we went there right from the airport before even checking in to our hotel. I ordered the sparkling flight and loved all the bubbly and rosé. MJD ordered the red wine sampler which focused on their Pinot Noirs. He really loved some of them. The pours at Carneros were big- look at all that wine I had- so this is a place that I think is really worth the value. We did order food there as well and enjoyed the cheese pairing and charcuterie plate. They also serve bread from Bouchon which is fab for soaking up the vino 🙂 Carneros is a great place to relax and have a leisurely tasting outside. It is a popular place so be sure to make a reservation- it is pretty easy to do via their online system. Go here if: you like sparkling wines and French-inspired architecture.
As you head up their long driveway through their vineyards, gardens and overall beautiful grounds, you’ll be increasingly more excited to explore Far Niente. The winery building was probably my favorite we visited in Napa- covered in ivy and red flowers so I obviously fell in love. We did a guided tour and tasting here and was our first tour of the trip. It gave us not only a good understanding of the wine making process and history of Far Niente, but also the history of Napa in general. I never even thought about prohibition and how it impacted Napa and the vineyards there until our tour here. The tour lasts about an hour and you get to walk through the entire winery including the caves down below and see the winery within the winery for their Dolce wine. The tour ends with a tasting of five wines paired with cheeses. Primarily, the tasting focused on Chardonnay and Cabernet sauvignon (these are the most popular wines in this region, while Pinot Noir is more popular in Sonoma). The tasting was so good that MJD joined the wine club and now we have their wine being delivered to us a few times a year! Go here if: you love Chardonnay, Cabernet and want to learn more about the history of Napa.
After a quick stop for lunch, we headed over to Tres Sabores following Far Niente (my tip– Napa is very spread out, so try to plan to visit wineries in the same general area on the same day 🙂 ) Tres Sabores was a recommendation from a fellow blogger, Meaghan who described Tres Sabores as a winery with golden retrievers. I instantly knew we had to go! As soon as we pulled up, I knew this was going to be one of my favorite wineries of the trip. It’s a smaller family owned vineyard and farm that not only makes wine, but grows other fruits and olives as well. The flowers here were so stunning as well that I couldn’t resist taking some pictures (check out what I wore there in this post). We were their only tour that day and I loved the relaxed vibe of the tour. We explored the property wine glasses in hand and were soon greeted by some of the vineyard’s six golden retrievers. Oh my gosh guys, I’m pretty sure this is what heaven is like- drinking wine in a beautiful place alongside your hubby and the cutest dogs ever. After the tour, they kept the wine flowing as we sat outside overlooking the vineyard. One of the things I loved about Tres Sabores was they served a variety of wines- not just the traditional Chardonnay and Cab that a lot of other places were serving. We had Rosé, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet and Zinfandel. We both loved that it was such a intimate experience and we got to enjoy the whole place to ourselves! Tres Sabores is appointment only- so be sure to book an appointment if you want to drink wine with dogs (really who doesn’t?). Go here if: you want a more low-key family owned vineyard vibe, you love dogs and are willing to try a lot of different wines.
Their motto- experience the unconventional. One step into Eleven Eleven’s tasting room and you’ll see that they are anything but the traditional tasting room and vineyard. I LOVED their décor- it was definitely the prettiest tasting room we visited. I totally wanted an excuse to throw a big party in Napa and rent out their space because it was just so amazing. Two of our friends recommended a visit to Eleven Eleven and we were so glad we visited. The wines were delicious (surprise, surprise MJD ordered more wine here too 😉 ) and the location is very convenient to downtown Napa. Our host was super friendly and gave us some great recommendations both for in Yountville and for the next leg of our trip to Maui. I loved their rosé- it was dry and refreshing- and I’m so glad we ordered a few bottles to enjoy at home this summer. Go here if: you are looking for a great winery close to downtown Napa and you love Pinots.
Hess was the last winery we had on our Napa agenda and so I booked something a little different for our visit- a wine and chocolate pairing! But before we got to the pairing, we had to get there and we also had a lovely tour. One thing to know about Hess if you visit- it is located pretty high up in the hills and can be a bit windy to get to. Promise it is worth it once you get there, but just keep in mind it may be a bit off the beaten path if you are using uber. As you drive up to Hess, I instantly noticed a gorgeous church right next door. It turned out to be a big part of the Hess story. As I mentioned prohibition stopped many of the wineries in the area, except for those making wine for the church. Hess leases their winery building from The Christian Brothers who had been making wine in the are for several years. During a visit to Hess , you don’t just get to taste great wines, but you also get to explore a contemporary art museum! The art collection of Donald Hess is on display and is really cool to explore before your tasting. Hess offers a few different kinds of tastings, but we picked the wine and chocolate tasting since both MJD and I love chocolate. I was so glad we did this and it was a fun and different kind of tour to end the trip with. During the tasting you sampled four different wines, four pieces of chocolate and four delicious truffles. It was a sweet ending to a unique tour. Go here if: you like contemporary art, Cabernet Sauvignon and chocolate.
If you’ve been to Napa, have you visited any of these wineries? Leave your recommendations in the comments below for everyone to read- and hopefully for my next trip out to Wine Country 😉