Monday, July 14, 2014

Thinking about a Trip through Napa? Here's a List I made of Wineries that are open to the Public for you to visit...

I have taken several trips to Napa Valley over the last few years and what strikes me is that no matter how many wineries you get to visit; you always have more to get to next time around it really pays to have a strategy; an idea of what you want to do. If you don't, you can end up not seeing as much. It will still be great. But it's better to plan. remember these wineries are situated in some of the most beautiful vistas anywhere. So it's not just the vino; that draws people here time and time again.

So, a good trip to Napa generally has some planning involved if you want to coordinate your visits to the Wineries. Guaranteed the weather will hot. Not Humid hot; more like an electric hot blanket. There will be very little if any rain. In the months of May thru the beginning of August you will see the unripe grapes. In July the grapes change to their true colors. The harvest season begins in mid-August and spreads out into late October. This is the standard. All these times have something to offer on a trip to the valley.

These days very few wineries still combine a tour with the tastings and the days of free tours of the vineyards and winemaking process few and far between. For many of those you would need to make an appointment and inquire about charges. A lot of them just require you to reserve and book an appointment. Don’t be shy about calling. Remember, a lot of folks show up unannounced and the winery just wants to make sure it’s got its house in order to attend to things.

When you visit wineries; there’s always the thought of a picnic. It’s just a great thing to do. Not all wineries allows picnics due to code enforcement; but there are those that do. Some wineries ask that you purchase a bottle to use their grounds. They'll even open it and supply you with glasses too. The definitive economical lunch in Napa is a French baguette, gourmet mustard, good cheese, salami, a little fruit and a nice bottle of wine.

There are two main ways to see the Napa Valley by car…there are other ways like trains and hot air balloons or bikes; I prefer a car.

Traveling through Highway 29 is a straight shot from the south end of the valley. You pass through Napa, Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena and Calistoga. There are a lot of great restaurants along the way. Be aware that traffic can get heavy around 4 - 5PM
Another driving route is along Silverado Trail, which is most easily picked up by from Highway 29 in Napa and then turning left when you see the sign for the Silverado Trail. The Silverado The trail essentially runs parallel to Highway 29; but is less busy. It zigzags through rolling hills and the green landscapes of vineyards.

Here is my list of Napa Wineries that are open to the public along with some of the key varietals which currently to do not require a reservation. It’s a great list with some fantastic wineries. 

Artesa – Napa – Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Meritage, Albarino, Sauvignon Blanc
Clos Pegase – Calistoga - Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Meritage, Rose, Port
Conn Creek – St. Helena – Cabernet Sauvignon,
Cuvaison – Calistoga – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir
Domain Chandon - Yountville - Sparkling
Flora Springs – St. Helena – Cabernet Blends, Chardonnay
Franciscan – Rutherford -  Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Blend
Frank Family Vineyards – Calistoga – Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sangiovese, Late Harvest
Grgich Hills Estate - Rutherford – Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Late Harvest
Hall – St. Helena - Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Late Harvest
Louis M. Martini – St. Helena – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
Napa Wine Company – Oakville - Assorted
Orin Swift - - St. Helena – Cabernet and Zinfandel Blends
Paraduxx – Yountville - Zinfandel
Peju – Rutherford - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Rose, Port, Late harvest
Pine Ridge – Napa - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
Plumpjack – Oakville – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
Provenance – St. Helena – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc
Rombauer – St. Helena – Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Late Harvest
Silver Oak Cellars – Oakville – Cabernet Sauvignon
St. Supery – Rutherford – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars – Stag's Leap - Cabernet Sauvignon
Twenty Rows – Napa – Cabernet sauvignon
V Wine Cellars – Yountville – Assorted Varietals

The most common way of getting  around Napa Valley  is by renting a car, grabbing a guide book, or some wine country brochures and getting on with it....and making it happen.  It's a great road trip and it's an experience that's just great every time.

PS. If you are willing to make the effort and reserve and make appointments (I recommend you do a little of this)...There are places like Black Stallion, Buehler, Domain Chandon, Robert Craig, Inglenook and Robert Mondavi and Hess Collection all have excellent wine, tasting rooms, vistas for some unforgettable wine experiences.


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