We frequently get emails from visitors to our Website, WineCountryGetaways, asking for advice. The most common email goes something like this: “We will be in San Francisco in September and want to spend two days in the Napa Valley. Can you please tell us which are the best wineries to visit in the Napa Valley?”
Instead of replying to their email with a list of wineries, we suggest they consider these planning guidelines.
Start with the Napa Valley wines you drink and are familiar with. You must have a few favorites, so start there and investigate the winery by viewing their Website. See what they offer to visitors.
Avoid wineries that have a tasting-room-only situation. You should go to a full-fledge working winery where you can taste wine and also see the winemaking equipment, barrel room, fermenting tanks, and vineyards. That gives you a better picture of a winery and the atmosphere surrounding wine country.
It’s always fun to go to one of the earliest established wineries in the Napa Valley. Four that quickly come to mind are: Rubicon Estate (Inglenook), Beringer, Beaulieu Vineyards, and Charles Krug. There is a lot of history in these wineries, so plan to spend time there. Take a tour and pretend you are back in time in the early days of the Napa Valley.
Go to a mix of wineries. Small family-run wineries are fun and usually funky. Large corporate wineries have elaborate tasting rooms and fancy fare. It is good to see both.
Do you want to learn about pairing food and wine? These can be expensive activities but they are very helpful in learning how to match a wine with food. The Napa Valley Register did a recent review of wineries offering such an option.
We have created Napa Valley wine trails to follow on WCG and these guides are very well designed. You can’t miss if you follow one of these wine trails. Each trail has a different theme. You can also use our handy Trip Planner to select wineries according to your interests. This nifty tool will even Google map your trip.
Finally, watch our short video “Napa Valley Planning Tips” This video will give you all the tips you need to plan an amazing time in the Napa Valley wine country.
The tour at Rubicon Estates is excellent!
Manish M. Shah says
Another suggestion is to use http://www.allvineyards.com. If you’re on the road, there is an iphone and android app available to help navigate the region.
Hello Joe & Janelle,
Great information. I’ll pass it on to an acquaintance who will be here for the AP conference, cooking/wine friend and Donna.
Robert Ehlert says
If tasting room fees are an issue, check out my app, Wine Tasting Tab, available on iTunes or Android:
It searches wineries based on tasting room fee, menu, amenities. $2.99. Joe was kind enough to give it a shout out during an earlier post: http://www.winecountrygetaways.com/napablog/are-tasting-room-fees-out-of-hand-in-the-napa-valley/