There are over 400 wineries in Napa Valley, California; more if you count the ones that do not have tasting rooms. Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Albarino, Petit Sirah, Cabernet Franc, and Zinfandel are abundant and fruitful throughout the valley. If you are planning a wine trip or buying wine online, where do you start? Too many options can be overwhelming, and I am betting that most locals haven’t even made it to a fraction of these wineries.
But options also means there is something there for everyone. Whether you are searching for the classic bold Cabernet Sauvignon, a wedding venue, the perfect weekend getaway spot, or a winery specializing in sparkling wines…Napa’s got you covered.
How do you choose which ones to visit? What qualifies one of over 400 wineries a spot on our list? Quality, Consistency, and Experience are some of the things you should look for before choosing which wineries to visit.
Here are ilovewine’s Top 3 Wineries in Napa Valley, along with tips on how to choose wineries to visit.
Schramsberg is one of the best places in Napa (and the United States) for sparkling wines. This winery produces world-famous sparkling wines and is a top-influencer when it comes to California sparkling wines.
Schramsberg Wines was established in 1862 and later was restored and made specifically for producing sparkling wines. Over the decades, Schramsbergs wines have been starred in many of America’s most celebrated moments; including President Nixon’s ‘Toast to Peace’ and is served at state functions for the President.
Schramsberg extensive portfolio of sparkling wines includes Rose, Blanc de Noirs, Cremant Demi-Sec, Blanc de Blancs, and Late Disgorged.
Many of the bottles have a variety of sizes including half-bottles (374ml), standard bottles, Magnums (1.5 litres), 3 litres, and 9 litres.
They also make their sparkling wines using the Traditional Method, the same used in Champagne, France.
Their portfolio also includes Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir still wines.
Looking for a gift? They have a great selection of gift bottle sets.
Along with great wines and a beautiful cellar and vineyard located in Calistoga; Schramsberg also offers its customers some unique services.
Join the team for a number of winemaking dinners that are hosted around the world, including Montana, South Korea, and European Cruises. They may be headed your way next.
For a more localized and intimate gathering, join Schramsberg for a camp weekend. These camps are hosted in the fall for harvest and in the spring for blending. These small group, hands-on camps will leave you with extensive knowledge of the harvest and winemaking process for these world-renowned sparkling wines.
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
Stag’s Leap is the go-to winery for anyone looking for a flagship winery full of history and great wine. Located directly in Napa, California, Stag’s Leap is in prime real estate to grow exceptional grapes each year.
With 125 years of history and success, Stag’s Leap has been a large influence on the California wine industry. Despite financial struggles in the early days, Prohibition, and the Phylloxera epidemic, the vineyard continued to produce grapes, although winemaking was on hold for some time.
The winery has gone through very few changes in the century it has been around. Most recently, the Manor has gone through a restoration after the 2014 earthquake.
Stag’s Leap has a large selection of classic Napa wines; including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Viognier, Petit Sirah, and Chardonnay. These wines are highly awarded, age-worthy, and just what you would expect out of a top-quality Napa bottle.
While being one of the oldest and most recognized wineries in California, they have remained humble and their wines are actually quite affordable for the quality you get.
Stag’s Leap was awarded a spot in the Top 5 Most Romantic Winery Destination by Sonoma Magazine and for good reason. The stunning Manor and vineyard tour is a must-see for any wine lover.
The winery also has two wine clubs that not only ship you wines throughout the year, but provide you with year-round discounts on wine and events, and exclusive invites to wine club parties and barrel tastings.
Sterling Vineyards has award-winning wines and the unique experience of taking a tram ride while you taste wines. While there are countless beautiful vineyards in California, seeing them from an aerial view is quite special.
Founded in 1964, the winery has become an important influencer in the Napa Valley wine industry. Sterling Vineyard’s beautiful architecture includes the bells salvaged from St. Dunstan’s Church in East London. They still ring today.
Sterling Vineyards has multiple collections of wines that include Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, and Malvasia Blanca.
Join their club to receive shipments of wines, discounts on wines and events, as well as free tram rides and tastings for your friends and family.
Going from winery to winery can become a bit mundane, even for the biggest fanatics. Looking for more adventure in your wine tastings?
Sterling Vineyards has the only aerial tram ride. Each tasting includes a tram ride, where you can tour the winery, as well as view the terraces during the tasting.
How to Choose Which Winery to Visit
Here are some tips and tricks on how to choose the best Napa Valley wineries to visit based on your tastes and preferences.
Research all of them
Many amazing wineries in Napa Valley don’t receive much attention because they are small or haven’t been around for a long time. There are many small wineries that specialize in sparkling wines, dessert wines, Spanish, or Italian wines. You may find a winery that you really want to visit that you would have never found on a ‘Best Napa Wineries’ list.
Know what you want to experience
Know what you want to experience. Because the market is so competitive in Napa, you are not likely to come across bad wines. So research ahead of time which wineries have unique experiences that appeal to you. Whether it’s tram rides, near the Silverado Trail, offer tours with the winemaker, have a Tuscan castle, or are a historic winery with 18th-century architecture.
With over 400 wineries in Napa Valley and nearly 4,000 throughout California, it is hard to pick just a few favorites, especially if it’s your first time. There are countless great wineries throughout St. Helena, Calistoga, Spring Mountain District, Yountville, and the other Napa Valley appellations that will give you the tasting experience of a lifetime.
While we wanted to touch base on a few Napa wineries that don’t always get the spotlight, there are dozens of other top-notch wineries throughout Napa Valley.
Other notable Napa Valley wineries include the Del Dotto Estate Winery and Caves, Robert Mondavi Winery, Artesa Vineyards and Winery, Duckhorn Winery, Beringer Winery, Francis Ford Coppola, Inglenook, Rutherford, Domaine Carneros, V. Sattui Winery, Chateau Montelena, and Castello di Amorosa.