William Hill Estate —A Very Big Family-Owned Winery

The William Hill Estate Winery is by definition a family-owned winery. It is owned and operated by a family, the Gallo Family. But nothing at William Hill presents itself as one of those old and small family-owned wineries run by generations of family members. We are not saying this is bad thing, but when visitors come to the wine country and are looking for a family winery, my guess is that William Hill Estate winery is not what the tourist has in mind. The Gallo Family purchased this winery in 2007 from wine conglomerate, Beam Wine Estates. It looks, feels, and acts like a winery run by a giant corporation. It is the polar opposite of our previously reviewed family-owed winery, Hopper Creek Winery.

The William Hill tasting room is very impressive with beautiful displays of wine bottles, an exquisite tasting area, and a picture window view of their barrel room, containing 3500 sixty-gallon barrels. The grounds are equally impressive, with a spectacular view of the vineyards below. The garden and picnic area are groomed to perfection. The tasting staff is well trained and informed. When we asked about the 140 acres of estate vineyards, our server immediately showed us a poster board displaying a layout of where each varietal is grown on the estate.

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Hopper Creek Winery — Off Beat Napa Winery

This will be the first in a series of blog posts reviewing and comparing three family-owned wineries in the Napa Valley. Dieter Tede and his family purchased Hopper Creek in 1996. By far, Hopper Creek Winery is the most unusual of the three wineries we visited on a recent trip and one of the most unusual that any visitor is likely to encounter in all of the Napa Valley. It is small, off the beaten path, with a very funky tasting room character. You absolutely will not find anything at this winery that is pretentious or smacks of wine snobbery.

When we approached the Hopper Creek winery, we were greeted by tasting room manager Dan Blach, working on his laptop at the winery’s one and only picnic table. “Hi” he said, “we are only open by appointment so would you like an appointment for 1:00 pm?” 1:00 pm just happened to be the exact time we arrived. Dan is wearing a sweat outfit, baseball cap, and saddles, not exactly what you would expect from someone who runs a tasting room in the Napa Valley. Dan hands us a wine stained tasting menu that looks like it has been in use for months.

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How to Avoid the Tourist Crowds in the Napa Valley

Cafe Sarafornia best breakfas

The Napa Valley has more tourists visit each year than does Disneyland. Over five million people come annually to enjoy food, wine, and good times in the Napa Valley. If you are planning a trip to the Napa Valley between now and through harvest time, beware this is peak tourist season. But for the savvy … Read more

Tres Sabores Winery and A Visit with Winemaker Julie Johnson

We spent a very pleasant hour chatting and tasting wines with Julie Johnson, the owner and winemaker of Tres Sabores winery. Tres Sabores doesn’t get many visitors. It is well off the beaten path and the winery is open by appointment only. But that should not stop the tourists from making an effort to visit Tres Sabores because there is much to like here. This winery is not your typical Napa Valley tourist attraction. It is a rustic winery with no formal tasting room, just a homey welcoming atmosphere. It is just great fun to visit and get an inside view of a small boutique winery in the Napa Valley.

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Venge Vineyards is Moving!

Venge Vineyards will be changing its location soon. We found this out when we visited the winery earlier in the week. This is quite regrettable because the setting is so lovely and the wines so delicious. The winery is located at the base of Howell Mountain on Crystal Springs Road.

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Buehler Vineyards

We hadn’t heard much about Buehler Vineyards nor tasted their wines until we went to a wine tasting event sponsored by the Napa Valley Vintners Association. We enjoyed the Buehler wines we tasted and then shortly thereafter, the Wine Spectator rated their Buehler Vineyards 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon 90 points and listed this wine on its … Read more

Andretti Winery

This is indeed the winery of the famous Mario Andretti of Indy race car fame. Mario Andretti founded the winery in 1996, and it has since has become a public company trading shares under the name Andretti Wine Group. This beautiful Tuscan style winery is tucked away on Big Ranch Road near the Silverado Trail. … Read more

Chappellet Winery

Chappellet winery is one of those wonderful hidden wineries and a secret place that remains largely an undiscovered treasure in the Napa Valley. The location is off the beaten path on the eastern mountains of the Napa Valley and open by appointment only, so visitors tend not to flock to the Chappellet winery. We visited … Read more

Hans Fahden Vineyards — Mayacamus Cabernet Sauvignon

Hans Fahden Vineyards is actually in Sonoma County and this is a Napa and Carneros blog. So, why write about a winery that is not in Napa or Carneros? Well, for two reasons. The winery is only 600 feet beyond the Napa County line and secondly the best way to get to the winery is … Read more

Hess Collection Winery

The Hess Collection Winery is a popular tasting room despite the fact that is off the beaten path, seven miles west of Highway 29, in the Napa Valley. It was remarkable how busy this winery was on a Wednesday when we visited a couple of weeks ago. The first thing you notice as you walk … Read more