Only Disneyland draws more annual visitors to California than Napa Valley – but, instead of meeting Mickey Mouse, five million people are attracted to the sun-kissed region by picturesque scenery, world-class wines and an incredible choice of wineries to visit.
There are over 450 wineries scattered across the region, with the most welcoming wine enthusiasts through their doors – although, determining which are the best wineries in Napa Valley often depends on your personal preferences. Many visitors prefer the intimacy offered by small, boutique estates, while others seek out wineries that specialise in their favourite wine styles and some are drawn by amenities such as on-site restaurants or art galleries. To make your decisions less daunting, we have compiled a list of six of the best Napa Valley wineries:
Best wineries in Napa: Opus One
Opus One began life as a joint venture between renowned winemakers Robert Mondavi and Philippe Rothschild with the ambition of creating a single Bordeaux-style blend based on the region’s signature Cabernet Sauvignon. Wine tastings here are perhaps more formal than some of the other best Napa wineries, but the luxurious experience (available by appointment only) is as sophisticated as Napa Valley gets and includes spectacular views of the vineyard from its terrace.
Best wineries in Napa: Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
The Stag’s Leap cemented its place as one of the best wineries Napa has to offer courtesy of its part in the infamous 1976 ‘Judgement of Paris’ – when wines from California unexpectedly trounced those from Burgundy and Bordeaux in a blind tasting that would change the course of history for American wine. The winery’s remodelled estate includes panoramic views of the vineyards as well as its awe-inspiring wine cave, which features a floor-to-ceiling Foucault pendulum that maintains a methodical tempo during tastings.
Best wineries in Napa: Screaming Eagle Winery
Only Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc (and a small amount of Sauvignon Blanc) varieties are grown in the vineyards of the Screaming Eagle Winery, which specialises in low yields of premium vintages that are considered cult wines in Napa Valley. Arsenal football club owner Stan Kroenke became the sole proprietor in 2009 and has maintained its reputation as one of the most prestigious estates in Napa if not the entire United States.
Best wineries in Napa: V.Sattui Winery
This award-winning winery is the most visited in all of Napa, renowned for its traditional Italian charm and more than 60 wines, which include still, sparkling and port varieties. A recently added Concierge Service accommodates personalised visits, while premium vintages can be sampled across vast picnic grounds and enjoyed with fresh local produce from the legendary on-site delicatessen.
Best wineries in Napa: Inglenook Winery
Inglenook was one of the original and remains one of the best, Napa Valley wineries. Founded in 1879, the elegant, ivy-covered gardens have attracted Hollywood royalty such as Clarke Gable and Jean Harlow through the years – before being bought by film director Francis Ford Coppola in 1975. Coppola has spent a considerable amount of time and money to restore the winery to its golden era glory, as well as acquiring the Inglenook trademark – reportedly for more money than the entire estate cost him.
Best wineries in Napa: Domaine Carneros
Modelled after an 18th-century French grand chateau, this fairy tale mansion was founded by the family behind Champagne Taittinger and is one of the more unique ways to discover the Carneros appellation in Napa. Unsurprisingly, it is renowned for its sparkling wines, primarily made from Pinot Noir, which can be enjoyed from three spectacular terraces and accompanied by food pairings of artisan cheeses, caviar, smoked salmon and charcuterie.
The ideal time to visit the best wineries in Napa Valley is during either Spring (April to early June) or Autumn (September to October) – when the countryside is at its prettiest or vineyards are being harvested respectively.
If you are interested in visiting the best Napa wineries, contact Wine Paths for more information and inspirational ideas before planning an exclusive bespoke trip through our local expert.
If you're interested in one of our Napa Valley Wine Tours, please visit this link.