Wine Country Backroad Carneros Napa
Why take the tourists’ route? Here is a backroad gem of a tour where you can see some fantastic views of Carneros and the Napa Valley and avoid busloads of people. This trip starts by heading across the Golden Gate Bridge, but one can certainly come from other directions. Just use the Google map below or your car’s GPS. We are going to begin this trip in Carneros on the Sonoma County side, where Ramal Road on the north meets Highway 121. Traveling East on Highway 121, drive about 3.5 miles from the main intersection of Arnold and Highway 121. If you do come from the other direction, be very careful when you make a left turn onto Ramal Road; Highway 121 is busy, and many folks drive way too fast on this road. Be careful and be alert at all times.
Take Ramal Road, and this will lead you through the backroad vineyards of Carneros Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It will give you an insider’s view of the terroir and the climatic factors that make Carneros ideal for growing the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. In the Spring and Summer, it can be cold, foggy, breezy, and ten degrees or so colder than the Valley. These cool climate conditions are the direct influence of the nearby San Pablo Bay. If you spot an interesting side road, take it and see where it leads.
Continue on Ramal Road until you get to the intersection at Duhig and Las Amigos Road. Head down Las Amigos Road to the Bouchaine Vineyards on Buchi Station Road. Bouchaine winery is a pretty spot and a favorite stop for the bicycle touring companies because of the quiet country roads.
Here you have the option of heading north on the backroads to Acacia, Etude, or Saintsbury. Saintsbury requires appointments for tasting and touring. For this trip, we recommend heading back on Las Amigas Road and taking a right on Duhig Road. On Duhig, just before you get to Highway 121, look to the right for the entrance to Cuvaison Winery. Cuvaison has a beautiful new tasting room and some of the best views of Carneros. Enjoy a sit-down tasting of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Opposite Cuvaison is the very stunning Chateau of Domaine Carneros. You can sit on the terrace and enjoy some fabulous views and, of course, taste some of the best sparkling wines in California. Taking the tour at Domaine Carneros will give you a brief education on the making of sparkling wine.