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Top 5 wineries in Napa Valley

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McDonough Georgia
posts: 27
Top 5 wineries in Napa Valley

We are heading to California in September and would like to make the most of our trip. Our itinerary will include a day in Napa Valley and want to visit THE best wineries in the area. We like all wines (hiccup) so we're not choosing - we just want the most memorable ones....thank you!

Napa, CA
Destination Expert
for Napa Valley
posts: 4,753
reviews: 2
1. Re: Top 5 wineries in Napa Valley


In most wine countries/regions, making a few suggestions is easy, since there are a few dozen wineries, total, in most spots.

Napa Valley currently has over 400 bonded wineries ( ! ), and Sonoma has hundreds more.

We've been to nearly 100 wineries-- so it's pretty much impossible for us to narrow it down to the top five. There are dozens of amazing, and incredible, wineries here. :)

Can you give us a few more details/preferences? Perhaps we can come up w/some suggestions based on more of your likes/dislikes.


-The Innkeepers

Napa Old World Inn

McDonough Georgia
posts: 27
2. Re: Top 5 wineries in Napa Valley

We really don't have any special requests. We're heading towards Oakville so any in that direction would be great.

We like being wowed by architechture of a winery or the scenery, if something is picture perfect - that's what we like, not so much how great the wine is.....you know what I mean?

Thanks for any suggestions!

posts: 28,747
reviews: 767
3. Re: Top 5 wineries in Napa Valley

In Napa, check out Artesa and Domaine Carneros! :)

Hixson, Tennessee
posts: 201
reviews: 31
4. Re: Top 5 wineries in Napa Valley

That is a very broad request. Do you want the 5 "BEST" wines or the 5 "BEST" wineries . . . the two would be very different.

I can probably not give you 5 "BEST" wineries, but here are a couple of my favorites.

One of the most amazing wineries that I have visited is Hall Rutherford. They also have another tasting room in St. Helena, but you want the one in Rutherford. By appointment only. You will travel up Rutherford Hill until you think you are on the top of the world . . . you wonder if you will ever get there . . . then, all of a sudden, you come over the crest of the hill and there it sits. You are greeted with a glass of Chardonnay in a small building that house some of the Hall's art. The Halls love art. The views of the Napa Valley from that height are incredible. If that were not enough, you are then led down to the caves and the working winery. At the end of the cave was a dinning room with the most beautiful grape vine chandelier one could imagine. The roots of the vine contained the little lights and the Swarovski crystals that provide the light and glitter. Here you will taste their higher end wines which include some incredible Cabs. A little expensive, but definitely worth it.

Completely opposite, but an incredible visit is the very small Chase Family Vineyards in St. Helena (by appt). You are led out into the 100 year old Hayne Vineyard made famous by Helen Turley and her Zinfandel from there. After seeing these amazing vines, you are shown the wine making process then led into their small tasting room for a sampling of their outstanding wines.

Another incredible cave tour is at Del Dotto, again by appointment.

Then, 5 "BEST" wines. WOW, there are so many. Some at the wineries mentioned above. Then I would add Spottswoode and Harris.

Hope you have a memorable trip.


McDonough Georgia
posts: 27
5. Re: Top 5 wineries in Napa Valley

I know my reqeust is broad...sorry but these forums are new to me but a great way to find out information. Thank you so much for your ideas and suggestions. I'll make note of all of them.

Napa, CA
Destination Expert
for Napa Valley
posts: 4,753
reviews: 2
6. Re: Top 5 wineries in Napa Valley


Spectacular architecture or scenery narrows it down . . but at least 100+ that we can think of w/either amazing gardens, great views, sensitive siting/building relative to the surroundings, and/or incredible or awe-inspiring architecture.

You can see the problem!

Sorry-- the more you can tell us, the better we'll be able to help. :)


-The Innkeepers

Napa Old World Inn

PS For anyone reading this thread who's thinking "why don't they just name 5 then?", think about the other 90-100 wineries who do NOT get mentioned-- too many people read these forums and use them as a resource (tens of thousands of folks, just for the Napa forums). So just limiting it to 5-- when there are soooooo many amazing wineries-- does a real disservice to any we don't mention. And there are so many incredible places!

Napa, California
posts: 49
reviews: 2
7. Re: Top 5 wineries in Napa Valley

Agreed with The Innkeepers, asking for the top 5 wineries has too many layers to just name them. However, that said, our best advice it to make sure you get good direction from those that can explain the experience you are looking for, not just the "wines".

There are tons of great places for good wines, but the real key is matching up the right experience to your particular preferences beyond just a good glass of vino. So many times people get advice from places based on the brands with little regard for the actual tasting environment itself. It would be like recommending our favorite restaurant that happened to be a steakhouse, but your vegetarian...not a good match.

Decide what 'style' of day you want (i.e. tasting bars, views, crowds, mt. vs. valley floor, picnics, barrel rooms, private/reserve, small family run vs. mainstream, tours vs. self-guide, etc.) and then plan your day. Also, certain places are good/better/best depending on the types (varietals) wines you like to drink as well.

Good luck!


Flex Wine Tours

posts: 20
reviews: 5
8. Re: Top 5 wineries in Napa Valley

I would have to say there are not many bad wineries/wines in Napa Valley. I read a lot here before our visit and we went to places we hadn't planned on and had a great time.

Our favorite tour was Frog's Leap. For most beautiful winery/grounds, I would give it to Chateau Montelena. Nicest tasting was at Jessup. Most fun tasting at Regusci. Favorite wine of the trip (or at least tied for ) was over in Healdsburg at Selby.

There were some visits that I did not enjoy that much that others rave about. I did not enjoy the Castle or their wines, but my husband had fun taking pictures there. For the same reason, he wants to go to Del Dotto and I don't. V. Sattui made me crazy, there were so many people there!

If you have never been and want to learn more about wine making and tasting, go to Mondavi. Sterling is wonderful too if you've never been.

See? Everyone has different favorites, different opinions, and a visit changes day to day. And you must keep in mind, this was our first trip and we only made it to maybe 20-25 wineries in a week. There are many many more!

Edited: 6:18 pm, June 30, 2011
9. Re: Top 5 wineries in Napa Valley

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