Drinking something with bubbles can be a lifesaver for a palate headed toward wine tasting overload. Mumm Napa is one of just a handful of Napa Valley wineries that specializes in sparkling wine. Tastings are offered outside on the patio or indoors in the Tasting Salon. Both spaces provide scenic vineyard views. Visitors can taste sparkling wines by the flight or by the glass. No reservations are needed for groups of less than six. Best known for sparkling wine, Mumm Napa also makes a variety of still wines including Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Rosé and Pinot Noir. The winery and visitor center are located in Rutherford, on the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley. Ask to taste their sparkling red wine. You can thank me later.
The Estate at Jericho Canyon Vineyard is anything but a typical Napa Valley winery. Home to the Bleecher Family, they've preserved 70 percent of the estate as wildlife habitat. A former cattle ranch, trees weren't removed to plant grapes, vineyards were planted around them, creating unique vineyard views in the process. Wine is made in the Bordeaux style, and hand-crafted in small lots. Seated tastings are designed around current releases of estate produced wines, and are by appointment only. Along with a tasting, all visits include a vineyard and cave tour. ATV tours are also available and are a great way to see more of the vineyard's hilly terrain.
Luna Vineyards is one of the closest wineries to Downtown Napa. So close, you can park the car and easily make the trip by bike. Located right on the Silverado Trail, the largest producer of Pinot Grigio is hard to miss. The sunny patio is loaded with cushy chairs to sink into while you taste. Head inside and you can sit in a cozy leather chair by the fireplace, or have a seat at the bar. Save some time in between sips to explore while you're at Luna. Be sure to wander down close to the vineyards. There's a quiet area with tables and chairs, and afternoon shade compliments of mature olive trees. Those in the know, make the short climb up the steps to the tower for photo worthy vineyard views. The staircase is just off the tasting room.
Getting to Sterling Vineyards, is almost as fun as actually being there. Come with a fully charged camera, to capture the views as you make your way up to the winery aboard Sterling Vineyards aerial trams. A one of a kind experience in Napa Valley, the view changes with the seasons. Once visitors arrive at the top, they can explore the winery with a glass in hand. The self-guided tour takes visitors through the winemaking process from growing grapes in the field to pouring wine in your glass. When it's time to go, the aerial tram will be waiting to deliver you back to vineyard floor.
If you like surprises, you'll love Raymond Vineyards. Vibrant, colorful and modern, Raymond Vineyards does wine tasting with a twist. Glitzy by Napa Valley standards, there are a number of rooms visitors can taste in when visiting the winery. The Crystal Cellar focuses on aerating wine. The out-of-the-ordinary tasting room is encased by stainless steel walls and has a mirrored bar. Raymond Cabernet Sauvignons are poured from hand-crafted Baccarat crystal decanters. Decked head to toe with red velvet, the Red Room is a by appointment lounge, complete with pool table. Half a dozen themed rooms give visitors a variety of tasting possibilities. Raymond Vineyards is glamorous, and it knows it. If you're looking for a traditional Napa Valley wine tasting experience, Raymond Vineyards probably isn't for you. But before you decide old-school is the only way to go in Napa Valley, know that Raymond farms more than 300 acres in Rutherford, St. Helena and Jameson Canyon. Its estate vineyards are certified organic and Biodynamic, and the winery generates 100% of its energy needs from on-site solar panels.
Miljenko "Mike" Grgich earned world-wide recognition, and put Napa Valley on the wine making map, when the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay he crafted won the 1976 Paris Tasting, beating some of France's best wines. Grgich then partnered with Austin Hills, from the Hills Bros. Coffee family, to create Grgich Hills Estate. The winery offers an assortment of tour and tasting options. No reservations are needed in the main tasting room for the Napa Valley Flight, which includes a tasting of Grgich Hills six Napa Valley Wines.The winery also crafts a dessert wine called "Violetta," in honor of Grgich's daughter, Violet. Grgich Hills Estate vineyards are all certified organic. The winery made the switch to solar power in 2006.
Whitehall Lane is a family owned winery in the Napa Valley area of Rutherford. Founded by two brothers in the late 1970s, the winery gets its name from a road that borders the property. Now owned by the Leonardini family, Whitehall Lane farms 140 acres of Napa Valley vineyards. The bright and cheerful tasting room is a nice spot to learn about wine without feeling intimidated. Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, Whitehall Lane offers Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. If you like sweeter varieties, the winery also crafts a Muscato and a port style dessert wine. Top those off with Chardonnay Brittle, Chocolate Cabernet Truffles and Chocolate Cabernet Sauce blended with locally made made chocolate, and dessert lovers should be smiling ear to ear.
Their energy bars are famous, but did you know the Clif Family also makes wine in Napa Valley? The Velo Vino tasting room in St. Helena is a unique combination of wine, food and bicycling. That's right, bicycling. At Velo Vino you can taste small, production wines, for sale only at tasting room and pair your favorite with a bite to eat from the Clif Family Bruschetteria Food Truck. If you're worried about indulging, you can burn off the calories cycling through Napa Valley. Velo Vino will help you plan a custom ride. They'll even take care of the bike rentals. You can spin in the morning and have a food and wine pairing waiting for you when you return.
Castello di Amorosa knows how to make a big first impression. Set in Calistoga, the winery calls a 13th century medieval Tuscan-style castle home. It took 15 years to build the 121,000 square foot castle in Napa Valley. The Castello has a 107 rooms, 95 of which are devoted to wine making. It also has all the extras you'd expect from a castle, like a moat, drawbridge, church and torture chamber. Dragons and stone gargoyles guard many dark corners. The winery produces hand-crafted Italian style wines, exclusively available at the Castello or on its website. An assortment of guided tours and tastings are available. Reservations are recommended, but not required.
Affectionately known as "The Still on the Hill," Charbay Artisan Distillery & Winery is family run with father and son Master Distillers Miles & Marko Karakasevic. Charbay is one of the only wineries in the U.S. that distills its own brandy to create its ports and aperitifs. Located in a country-like setting on Spring Mountain above St. Helena, tastings are intimate, informative and entertaining. Charbay is open to visitors by appointment only, which keeps groups small. During your tasting you'll see the still going and learn how it works. Meeting a member of the Karakasevic family is almost a guarantee.