Napa, that most famous of US wine regions, instrumental in giving American wines their worldwide recognition, naturally boasts some wineries that you shouldn’t miss if you’re planning a visit to the Valley.
Must see wineries in Napa come in all colours: extravagant, historic, innovative or emblematic. Popular, not only thanks to their wines, but also due to their architecture, ambiance, gardens, history or art, they are all unique in their own way. Here are a selection of some of the must visit wineries in Napa.
Robert Mondavi Winery
Nobody should forego a visit to the sprawling Spanish-Mission style property with its graceful arches and huge courtyard just north of the town of Oakville, one of the most popular wineries in Napa and perhaps even one of the most visited wineries in the world. Mondavi previously worked for the family winery of Charles Krug before leaving to establish his own winery in 1966. Considered by many as the father of Californian wine, Robert Mondavi used innovative winemaking techniques to create distinctive, high-quality wines. The winery offers one of the most comprehensive tour programmes in the industry, which will certainly help to give you a better understanding and feel for the Napa Valley.
Opus One Winery
The result of a joint venture between two giants of wine – Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Opus One wine – a single Bordeaux-style blend based on Napa Cab - ranks among the most expensive red wine produced in the Napa Valley. The 1990s saw its rise to become the California cult wine. The large limestone winery is equally impressive. Built in 1989, it seems to just rise out of the earth and, like the wine, has become one of the icons of the Napa Valley and one of the most famous Napa Valley wineries. Cleverly combining classical European and contemporary California elements, it blends into the rolling hills and vineyards of the Napa Valley and is an emblematic Napa sight not to be missed.
Founded near St Helena in 1897, Beringer Vineyards is the oldest winery in the Valley continuously in operation. The impressive main building, a classic German-style chateau is well worth a visit.
Inglenook’s claim to fame is Francis Ford Coppola. Coppola bought the historic Niebaum mansion and winery in Rutherford in 1975 with profits from ‘The Godfather’ film. The winery was renamed Rubicon Estate in 2006 after its flagship wine but since 2011 has regained its former name of Inglenook. The estate focusses on production of very high-end wines, with other Coppola wines being produced at their Alexander Valley facility.
Castello di Amorosa
Another of the popular wineries in Napa has to be Castello di Amorosa, an extravagant, thirteenth-century Tuscan-style castle and winery near Calistoga, boasting its own torture chamber, chapel and great hall. Opened to the public in 2007 and constructed from 8,000 tons of locally quarried stone, paving stones, roof tiles and bricks imported from Europe, it represents the showy parody of conspicuous consumption all too prevalent in today’s Napa, but certainly warrants a visit just due to its sheer extravagance.
Noted for its triumph in the 1976 Judgement of Paris blind tasting, the nineteenth-century winery and its cellars feature high on the list of Napa’s architectural icons. Chateau Montelena, carved into a hillside overlooking a Chinese garden, lake and vineyards, resembles an English Gothic castle gatehouse and used imported European stone for its walls. Located at the foot of Mount Helena, it’s perhaps one of the most picturesque wineries in the Napa Valley.
Whether you are in search of the famous, the quirky, the extravagant or the innovative, our local wine experts at Wine Paths will make sure you don’t miss out on the must visit wineries in Napa.
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