With hundreds of wineries in the Napa Valley, many on either Highway 29 or Silverado Trail between Napa in the south and Calistoga in the north, it’s probably hard for first-time visitors to decide which wineries to visit.
Below is a handful of wineries, all on Highway 29, from south to north, that will make your visit memorable. Just don’t try to visit all in the same day. You want to make sure you have plenty of time to enjoy each of these special places. A good rule of thumb is to visit one winery in the morning, have lunch and then visit either one or two in the afternoon.
Be sure to do your homework before you come to the Napa Valley, as most wineries require advance reservations and many offer more experiences than just a winery tour and tasting of their latest release wines.
Most of all, remember to bring your attitude of fun to make this an adventure and a trip to remember.
Robert Mondavi Winery
7801 St. Helena Highway, Oakville
888-766-6328, ext. 2
The late Robert Mondavi established his namesake winery in 1966 with a vision to create Napa Valley wines that would stand in the company of the world’s finest. He chose To Kalon Vineyard in the heart of the Napa Valley as the home for Robert Mondavi Winery. This first-growth vineyard, located in Oakville, is renowned for producing some of the finest cabernet sauvignon wines in the world, as well as for its sauvignon blanc grapes, from which Mondavi crafted his signature wine, Fumé Blanc.
Director of Winemaking is Genevieve Janssens, whose relationship with the winery began in 1978. She was selected “Winemaker of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast in 2010.
According to the website, “The Robert Mondavi Winery was one of the first wineries to offer tours, tastings, culinary and art programs – our commitment to education continues with our world-renowned visitor programs. We offer three different types of wine tasting experience, for everyone from the novice to the most discriminating aficionado.”
Besides winery tours and wine tasting experiences, the winery staff also offers wine and food programs and lunch and dinner experiences.
Its “Discovery Tour and Tasting,” a family-friendly walking tour with a taste of two wines is offered daily from May through October with no reservations required. The tour takes 30 minutes and costs $20 per person. Children are welcome.
The winery is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., store is open until 6 p.m.
Louis M. Martini Winery
254 St. Helena Highway South, St. Helena
The Martini family has been crafting world-class cabernet sauvignon from Napa and Sonoma's finest vineyards since 1933. According to its website, “Our historic winery was among the first to open its doors in the Napa Valley after Prohibition. Our founder Louis M. Martini started with this simple premise: the best grapes make the best wines. Today, this tradition carries on at our historic winery in the Napa Valley with a range of unforgettable cabernet sauvignon wines. Located in the heart of the Napa Valley, our tasting room celebrates our storied history and acclaimed winemaking in every glass of wine we pour.”
Daily offerings at Louis M. Martini Winery include curated tasting flights of award-winning wines, many of which are exclusively available through the winery. Again from the website, “For first-time Napa visitors and collectors alike, our team will make every effort to make yours a memorable Napa Valley wine tasting experience.”
Two of the curated tasting flights include The Celebrated Reds Tasting Experience ($25) and Our Good Life flight ($50.)
The first celebrates the time-honored tradition of blending a selection of grape varieties to create a single harmonious wine. Explore the distinctions between a cabernet-driven Bordeaux-style blend — the Meritage — and a blend that builds on non-cabernet varieties — the Mountain Red. Included are two of the staff’s other cabernet favorites.
The “Good Life” flight pairs some of Martini’s most sought-after wines with a curated selection of seasonal, local dishes that elevate and enhance the depth and flavor of the wines.
Please allow 30 minutes for either of these curated tasting experiences.
1000 Main St., St. Helena
Nestled in the heart of the Napa Valley, St. Helena has long been established as the heart and soul of California winemaking. Ideally located at the southern entrance to town, Merryvale Vineyards, built in 1933, supports this rich history. As St. Helena’s hometown winery, Merryvale Vineyards offers guests the opportunity to walk to restaurants, shopping, lodging, and even other wine tasting locations.
In 2007, the Merryvale Vineyards winery building was renovated to become a luxury-class facility with small temperature controlled fermentors, intensive sorting equipment, a basket press, a cold room and other resources to produce great wine.
Merryvale Vineyards welcomes guests daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Reservations are not required for its Merryvale Vineyards Tasting. Seated tastings at the bar or in the tasting room are $30 per person.
For those interested in enjoying an elevated experience, winery staff also offers two unique experiences that are privately hosted by our wine education team: Merryvale’s Artisanal Wine & Cheese Tasting and its Profile Library Tasting. Both of those experiences require advance reservations and can be made online or by calling 707-963-7777.
If you are in St. Helena at lunch time, make reservations for the winery’s “Burger Butler Tasting Experience.” If you’ve ever ventured into St. Helena on a sunny day, no doubt you’ve noticed the line of folks waiting to order at what has become Napa Valley’s best burger joint – Gott’s Roadside Cafe. The “Burger Experience” will allow guests to skip the line and get right to the burger and fries –paired with Merryvale wines, of course! Cost is $95 per guest or $35 per winery club member.
To reserve Burger Butler, email the tasting room at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2000 Main St., St. Helena
866-708-9463 or 707-257-5771
In 1876, brothers Jacob and Frederick Beringer established Beringer Vineyards with a dream of making wines that would rival the finest in Europe. Today, Jacob’s great great-grandson, Chief Winemaker Mark Beringer, guides what is now California’s longest continually operating winery and one of Napa’s finest producers. With more than 1,600 acres farmed across Napa's best appellations, as well as Sonoma County and Paso Robles, Beringer is recognized as one of the region’s preeminent producers with a rich portfolio of wines.
After spending years working at Benzinger, Duckhorn and Artesa, in 2015, Mark Beringer came “home” to Beringer Vineyards, joining as Chief Winemaker and following in the footsteps of acclaimed Winemaker Emeritus Laurie Hook. He said, “I'm absolutely thrilled to be making wines for the very winery that my ancestor built, and be part of the next chapter in this important story of Beringer and of the Napa Valley.”
Two tours are of interest, the “Taste of Beringer Tour,” $50 per person plus tax; and the “Legacy Cave Tour,” $30 per person plus tax. Tours are offered throughout the day, reservations are recommended.
In the one-hour “Taste of Beringer Tour,” guests will be introduced to Beringer Vineyard's rich winemaking and culinary arts history. Following a brief walking tour of the property and demonstration vineyard, guests will be seated in the historic Rhine House family kitchen to explore the art of wine and food pairing and to enjoy a specially selected flight of Reserve wines paired with seasonal culinary treats prepared by Beringer's own Hudson House chefs.
Guests of all ages are welcome for the 30-minute “Legacy Cave Tour” that guides you through the Old Winery and historic tunnels, while exploring Beringer's long history and commitment to quality. For those 21 years and older, we'll taste a selection of three wines during the tour.
The winery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.
Castello di Amorosa
4045 St. Helena Highway, Calistoga
Visit Calistoga’s authentically-built, 13th century Tuscan castle and winery. You can visit for tasting only or take a guided tour.
By spending $25 for general admission, you may enjoy roaming access on two levels of the winery and a five-wine premium tasting in the winery’s main tasting room. No reservations are necessary for groups up to 14 guests. General admission pricing includes a map of the winery, wine tasting, and access to the upper levels of the Castello, including the Main Tasting Bar and Knight's Hall.
Reserve a guided tour ($40 per person) and learn more about the Castello, including the lower levels which feature the torture chamber, armory, and Grand Barrel Room, followed by either a standard tasting of five premium wines in one of the winery's private tasting bars or a reserve tasting with a private tasting of six wines, including low-production, elegant reserve wines. All tours feature a barrel tasting and a complimentary tasting of current releases. The walking tour takes an hour and the tasting takes 45 minutes. Reservations are recommended.
In March 2011, owner Dario Sattui reflected on the history of Castello di Amorosa.
“Nearly 20 years ago, I purchased the spectacular property upon which I built Castello di Amorosa. It sat on a 170-acres of forest and hills with a stream, a lake, one of the first houses built in Napa County and a great Victorian home where I chose to live. It was my dream property, culminating a search of many years. The purchase also came with a great building permit for a large winery building which had taken the previous owner 13 years to obtain.
“At first, I had no intention of starting another winery -- I already had V.Sattui (in St. Helena.) My plan was only to replant historic vineyards there. However, throughout my adult life, I had been fascinated with Italian medieval architecture; and, because of my passion -- some would say obsession -- I had already bought a handful of ancient properties in Italy, including a small castle near Florence (now sold), a medieval monastery near Siena (now being refurbished) and a Medici palace in southern Tuscany, which we are remodeling into a period hotel.
“My ideas began to crystallize. I would specialize in making small lots of primarily Italian-style wines, showcase them in an authentic, medieval castle setting and sell them directly to the public, not in stores or restaurants. Since I have never had a television, I had a lot of time on my hands. In early 1994, I embarked on my project. Concurrently with replanting 30 acres of vineyard on the property to sangiovese, cabernet and merlot, I began drawing plans for the winery building.
“My initial intent was to build an 8,500 square-foot building without cellars. Gradually it morphed into 121,000 square feet with 107 rooms with four separate levels underground and four levels above!”
Calistoga’s Tuscan castle opened in April 2007.
The winery is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., March through October and from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., November through February.