POSTED ON August 27, 2013 | IN Activities, Tasting Rooms | BY Joe Becerra

We are spending the last week of August in the beautiful Napa Valley. The vines are looking spectacular throughout the Valley from Napa all the way to Calistoga. We are renting a house with family in the Oak Knoll AVA. Five acres of Cabernet Sauvignon surround the house. The owner sells these grapes to a winery he would not name. He says it is the last year of the contract. From my knowledge, Cabernet Sauvignon does not do well in the Oak Knoll area. Too much of a loamy soil along with clay. Perhaps I am wrong on this, but rarely do I see a bottle of Napa Valley Cabernet listed as Oak Knoll.

The temperatures are in the low 80’s, but in the afternoon the winds kick in off San Pablo Bay. It’s nature’s way of cooling down the vines. In the late evening the temps drop into the 50’s. This is another factor in what makes the Napa Valley a great place for making wine.

Luna Vineyards

On our first day here we visited the nearby Luna Vineyards. It is one of the first wineries you come to as you head north on the Silverado Trail. The tasting fee is $15 for four wines. I guess by today’s standards that is not too much for a tasting fee in the Napa Valley. Tasting fees continue to increase here, but by all accounts visitors seem willing to cough up the dollars needed to taste in the Napa Valley. We enjoyed a quick visit at Luna. The view from their tower is spectacular and should not be missed if you visit. The best wine at Luna was the least expensive, the Pinot Grigio. It is delicious and priced at $18 a bottle. Luna also has a very nice picnic area but it must be reserved. Call ahead and enjoy a lunch and tasting at Luna.

View from the Luna tower

View from the Luna tower

Monticello Vineyards

We stopped here with our deli lunch and since no wine club members were using the picnic facilities we were able to enjoy our lunch at one of the large picnic tables. The best wine here was the Sauvignon Blanc, but at $30 a pop we thought it was way too pricey. By the way, you can purchase wine by the glass here. I will skip this winery next time around. I cannot give you a specific reason why; it was just a general feeling that something here was off kilter.

Monticello Vineyards

Monticello Vineyards

Mystery Winery

Sorry, but I cannot mention the name of this winery. Why? Because the owner does not have a license to sell wine or take in visitors at his property. Word of mouth is what brings visitors to his home, mostly by limousine companies and through family and friend references. The owner lives on the property and sells most of his grapes. Syrah is his best grape. He makes about 1000 cases of wine per year. The best wine by far was the Rosé Syrah. The owner told us he is not the only one in this type of under-the-radar operation. He told us that there are a few others who operate as he does.


  1. Michael Beltran says

    Great post and it is a good thing that you can sound out how you feel about a less than pleasant experience. Wineries need to know that just because they have a name and tasting room they are still obligated to welcome all who come through their doors. Monticello sent an honest response and it would be worth giving them another visit. I agree the prices of most Napa wines are over the top. I suggest trying imports who provide top quality at more than fair prices.

  2. The Corley Family says

    Hi Joe,
    We are glad that you enjoyed our Sauvignon Blanc and had the opportunity to picnic on our grounds. We are sorry the experience did not meet your expectations and hope that you will give us another chance the next time you are in the area.
    Monticello Vineyards