From both the San Francisco Golden Gate and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridges, Mount Veeder AVA is about one hour and 15 minutes driving time. It is the perfect quick wine country getaway for folks visiting San Francisco who want to get a quick glimpse of the Napa Valley. We say visit Hendry Winery, Yates Family Vineyard, and Hess Collection Winery and then go to the town of Napa for a late afternoon lunch.
Mount Veeder is a beautiful and lovely mountain, one of the highest in the Mayacamus Range and was once a blistering volcano. The area is very rugged and the soil and climate vary widely as the mountain elevates to a height of 2600 feet. The first stop on this quick getaway is the Hendry Winery at the base of Mount Veeder. Here you can kill two birds with one stone, because the Yates Family Vineyards uses a portion of the Hendry Winery to make and showcase their wines. To get to Hendry, take Redwood Road off Highway 29 in Napa and head west. On Redwood Road, go to the left when the road splits (about one mile). Continue another 1.5 miles. Watch on the right for the tiny sign indicating the entrance to Hendry Winery at 3104 Redwood Road. If you are not looking carefully and alertly, you will surely miss it. Both Hendry and Yates are open by appointment only, so be sure to call ahead.
At Hendry, if you have time, call ahead to book a tour with either owner George Hendry or his nephew Mike Hendry, co-winemaker. The tour and tasting take about two hours, but you will see every aspect that goes into the making of wine. The tour is free. We love the Hendry Zinfandels and they also make a delicious white, an AlbariÃ±o.
Yates Family Winery
Around the bend and up the short hill from the Hendry entrance is the barrel room where Yates makes its home. The Yates Family has been farming grapes since 1950 and in 2005 began making their own wine. They sell 80% of the grapes to other wineries and keep the best of the crop for themselves. These wines are absolutely terrific wines and perhaps one of Napa Valley’s best-kept secrets. The Yates red wines really showcase the Mount Veeder terroir with its volcanic soils at 2600 feet.
Continue up Redwood Dr. from Hendry about four miles. At this point, Redwood Dr. turns to the left and after one mile you will arrive at the Hess Collection Winery. The Hess Collection Winery is a spectacular winery. The gardens are lovely and the walk to the tasting room takes you through a reflecting pond on one side and a beautifully-covered wall of ivy on the other side. This winery is a popular destination spot and it can be crowded on the weekends. The Hess Collection is a large production winery and has several labels of wine offerings. The Hess Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent value.
Lunch in Napa
Head down Mount Veeder from Hess, go South on Highway 29, exit at First Street and follow the signs to downtown Napa. We highly recommend two spots for lunch, but there are really very many good options. Try either the Bounty Hunter at 975 First Street or Grace’s Table at 1400 Second Street.