Visiting Napa Valley and all of Wine Country is truly an amazing experience. The valley is gorgeous with rolling hills and wineries located at pretty much every turn.
If you are visiting Napa Valley I strongly recommend spending a day doing a walking tour to all the local tasting rooms downtown. Currently there are about twenty tasting rooms pretty much within walking distance downtown.
Here are my recommendations for planning your tasting room experience in Napa: (make sure you start with a big breakfast or early lunch!)
I recommend starting at John Anthony located right next to the Andaz Hotel on 1st Street. John Anthony has some incredible wines and their tasting room is gorgeous. They have a fun bar to sit at and taste or they have soft seating throughout the room. John Anthony also offers an exclusive tour and tasting of their private estate and vineyards, but you will need to call ahead or visit the website to try and book a reservation for this amazing experience!
From there, cross the street and you will find yourself at the Cornerstone Cellars tasting room. Cornerstone is newer to downtown Napa, they have a fun vibe and some delicious wine. I have been here a couple times and have enjoyed their private tasting rooms for parties of 10 or less and it was a great please to have some wine. The staff is very knowledgable and are great at explaining the winemaking process and providing full detail about the history of the winery.
Next, head down 1st Street another block and you will find yourself at the gorgeous Acumen Tasting room with a beautiful art gallery that rotates collections throughout the year. I took my best friend and family here when they were visiting me in Napa, and they LOVED it. We were able to sit in a semi-private area to enjoy our tasting and all catch up together. Their Cabernet and Temperanillo are amongst my favorites in Napa.
By this time you are probably starting to get hungry again, head down 1st Street and past Main Street to Gabrielle Collection (below) for an amazing food + wine pairing experience. I cannot say enough great things about Gabrielle Collection and the whole experience there. I have been to a number of wine-tastings but none have been as interactive as Gabrielle. Each wine they have for the tasting is perfectly paired with a food dish by their two chefs. The have “hand-on” food pairings where you get to create your own creation to pair with the wine. Besides wine they have a handful of products they sell from their custom sea-salts (the Cabernet is my favorite!!!!) to olive oil, vinegar, herbs, cooking gift sets, and even some treats to spoil your pets. These are all made in Napa Valley which is so amazing to use the local environment to organically produce some amazing products!
Some tasting rooms that are great for later in the evening:
JAM Cellars (located on the opposite side of the Andaz hotel) is known for live music and some fun wines! JAM is under the “John Anthony” brand which I referenced in the beginning of this post. You may have heard of JAM’s most popular bottle, “Butter.” This is every buttery Chardonnay lovers dream wine. They have a fun tasting menu and areas to listen to live music and hangout with friends.
For all you sports fans out there, Vermeil Tasting Room (right) is your place. They have a comfortable tasting room with multiple TVs, perfect for doing a tasting or grabbing a glass of wine and watching the game! Being a huge sports fan myself I love this environment and think it is so fun to go to in the evenings.
I hope this guide helps you the next time you are looking to stay in Downtown Napa and enjoy some of the local tasting rooms. There are even more to choose from and ones that I haven’t been to yet but definitely hope to try soon!
Have you been grape stomping? Are you visiting Napa before the end of October? Then the Grgich Hills Grape Stomp is just for you!
Grgich Hills Winery has daily grape stomps for you to attend! My friend and I went while she was in town visiting and I must say we had a great time. We were greeted with wine and got our Grgich Hills “I stomped” T-shirt that we would later place our wine stained footprints on as a fun keepsake and memory.
While we waited for our turn to stomp we enjoyed sipping on wine and getting to pick and try some of the grapes still on the vine (always fun to do!). We stomped to music, danced, laughed and truly made some memories.
I recommend that you celebrate the Harvest Season coming to an end with some grape stomping!
As you’re making your drive from San Francisco, maybe Sacramento, or you are driving in from another part California, you immediately notice the difference once you turn onto Highway 12. Almost immediately you start to see vineyards here and then suddenly you are surrounded by mesmerizing green vineyards that make Wine Country one of the most beautiful places in the world. The drive into Napa Valley is one like no other and truly breathtaking as you pass endless rolling hills of vineyards.
If you continue your way up to Highway 29, or venture over to Silverado Trail, or maybe you plan to explore on your own and get off the beaten trail, the amazing views will only continue with the spectacular wineries you will see. This is Disneyland for grown ups.
Each winery is truly unique and inside fabulous wines are awaiting! Throughout my adventures here in Napa there is one thing I have learned; Every winery holds a different experience, and with over 800 wineries you are in for a treat! I will continue to share my experiences and hope to give guidance to those traveling to this remarkable valley.