Did you know that there are over 1,700 wineries registered in Napa Valley? However, only more than 400 wineries are open for tasting when I went in 2021. About 170 new wineries have registered each year since 2015. To control the number of new wineries, there’s a complicated and expensive permit process that can cost $500,000 with no guarantee that it’ll be approved. My husband was responsible for narrowing it down to three wineries. Here’s a list of wineries we were considering and the ones that we went to plus a few food options:
This French-inspired chateau & formal gardens are known for their still and sparkling wine. When we arrived, I realized why my sister-in-law loved this vineyard. They had an outdoor terrace overlooking the vineyard and beautiful gardens. I got the Château sampler while my husband got the red wine sampler. The Château sample is great because it comes with a glass of sparkling wine, rose sparkling wine, and two reds.
What Have I Learned: The outdoor terrace is beautiful but it gets windy. We had to hold on to our glasses at times because they would go flying if we didn’t. We probably saw 5 glasses falling over the table in the 1.5 hours we were there.
Sparkling Wine, Red Wine or Château Sampler (4 glasses of 2oz wine): 40 USD
Hour: Mon to Sun: 10 AM to 5:30 PM (Last Reservation taken at 5 PM)
This Mediterranean-inspired wine estate has a tasting room, gardens & 20,000 square feet of caves. There are a couple of different tastings and tours you can join at Clos Pegase. We did the estate flight tasting only because we were only in Napa Valley for half a day. You can do an estate-guided tour and tasting where you will explore the gardens, vineyards, and winery cellar while sipping on their flight of estate-grown wine.
What Have I Learned: Make a reservation on their website because they do get booked up.
Estate Flight:40 USD for Mixed Estate Flight (4 glasses)or 50 USD for Red Estate Flight (4 glasses)
Estate Guided Tour and Tasting: 75 USD
Other Tastings & Tours
Hour: Mon to Sun: 10 AM to 5 PM (Closed Christmas Day + Special Holiday Hours)
Castello Di Amorosa – This 13th-century Tuscan castle winery is open for tasting or tour by reservation only. They have a wide selection of white, rose, red, and sweet wines. The seated reserve tasting is 55 USD for 6 tastings including their famous Muscat Grape juice (Non-alcoholic).
Hours: Mon to Wed: 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM/Thur to Sat: 11:00 AM to 8:30 PM/ Sun: Closed
Tastings & Tours
Darioush – This vineyard is known for its grand Persian palace entrance and signature Cabernet Sauvignon. The Signature Mezze tasting cost 85 USD for 4 glasses and Persian roasted pistachios and mezze plates.
Hours: Mon to Sun: 10:30 AM to 5:00 PM
Tastings & Tours
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars – The founder purchased the 44-acre property back in 1970 and planted its famous Cabernet Sauvignon. The Napa Valley Collection tasting flight cost 50 USD per person includes the ARTEMIS Cabernet Sauvignon while the Estate Collection tasting flight cost 75 USD per person and includes the CASK 23 Cabinet Sauvignon. The first vintage of CASK 23 was produced in 1974 while the first vintage of ARTEMIS was produced in 2001.
Hours: Mon to Sun: 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM (Last tasting appointment is 4:00 PM)
Tastings & Tours
Farmstead At Long Meadow Ranch($$) – My sister-in-law recommended this restaurant and we are so glad we were able to make a reservation on their website. We ordered their fantastic crispy green beans (16 USD) and smoked vinegar mayo-based chicken wings (18 USD) to start. We also shared the main Smoked Grass-Fed Beef Hash (30 USD) and cheddar biscuits (9 USD) but the appetizers were the stars of this lunch.
Hours: Mon to Thurs: 11:30 AM to 8:30 PM/Fri: 11:30 AM to 9:30 PM/Sat: 11:00 AM to 9:30 PM/Sun: 11:00 AM to 8:30 PM
Gott’s Roadside ($$) – This busy burger and milkshake chain has been serving the California roadside since 1999. We were full from lunch so we didn’t get to try their burger but we did make some room for their delicious milkshake (6 to 8 USD) that’s a little too sweet for me. A cheeseburger costs 9 USD but it ranges from 11 US to 15 USD for the specialty burgers.
Hours: Mon to Sun: 11 AM to 8 PM
What is your main transportation in Napa Valley? Car
How long did it take to get to Napa Valley? It was a 3+ hours drive from Sequoia National Park and 1.5 hours to San Francisco.
When did you go to Napa Valley? August 2021
What Have I Learned? Before all the wildfires that tore through Napa Vally wineries, wine tasting in Napa and Sonoma valleys was free (maybe 20 years ago before I could drink).