Napa Valley Winery Recommendation for first timers?

Where should my hubby and I go to learn about wine tasting in Napa? We don't want to be intimidated by all the seasoned drinkers who are well versed in wines. We're only there for 4 nights then we head out to visit family in San Francisco.

6 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    as you drive around napa/sonoma you will see all the signs for various tasting rooms....just drive into any you see & if their names seem familiar to you all the better. most but not all wineries offer tours so everyone can learn something new if they keep their ears open!!!

    i suggest sending away or stopping by AAAto pick up their free (it used to be anyway) winery guide w/ map so you can review descriptions & choose what sounds good to you before you go.

    you may want to see beringer in napa because the house is famous & they have a nice tour w/ sonoma an easy walk right off the square is sebastiani so you can walk around a bit & combine w/ the winery...silverado trail is great...calistoga also has fun hot springs, nice little town & wineries everywhere...also, try domaine chandon in yountville for domestic sparkling wine...very good restaurant on-site!!

    valley of the moon winery in valley of the moon sonoma is off the beaten track in a gorgeous area & you can also visit jack london's home & ruins of his house that burnt down at the state park up the road. also there is horse riding & easy scenic hiking...

    really too many to mention!!!!

    Source(s): lived in area & know my wines
  • 1 decade ago

    One idea you might want to consider is to visit some wineries in Sonoma County. Very close to Napa Valley but a lot less pretentious (mostly).

    There are so many wineries in Napa Valley that you can't go wrong. For learning about wine I'd recommend Robert Mondavi. Grgich Hills Cellars is worth a visit as Mike Grgich was the winemaker at (I think) Chateau Montelena when their wines won the famous 'Judgement of Paris' in 1976 that put the Napa Valley on the map.

    Both of those wineries are on the west side of the valley (Route 29) but I highly recommend the less busy side of Napa Valley which is the Silverado Trail. There's a ton of good wineries along this route (though probably a third as many as the other side). Silverado Vineyards has a great view to enjoy while you're tasting. You can learn about and taste both still and sparkling wine (Champagne) at Mumm a little farther up the trail.

    Many wineries have wine caves that they will give tours through or even hold their tasting in the cave. My website has lots of information about the area.

  • 1 decade ago

    I actually just got back from Napa on Saturday (first time as well!) I was very nervous going into it because of the same reasons - i was a little intimidated and didn't know what to expect. Believe it or not, there are more people like us than people who know what they are doing! So you don't really have to know anything about wine or know the right way to taste because they will tell you about it and/or show you.

    My suggestions/thoughts:

    1. v. sattui in Napa - has a great picnic area and deli inside, and are very friendly. the selections are really good and theres plenty of space at the bar for tasters. it's usually busy, so its a good place to go if you want to blend in for the first time.

    2. Benziger in Sonoma - if you can do this at the beginning of your trip, do the tour at this winery. A tram takes you throughout the vineyard, and in the caves, etc. and they tell you everything you need to know about the wine. Its $10, but it includes the tram tour, and a tasting at the end. We even got to taste the grapes right off the vine.

    3. Robert Mondavi in Napa - this is by far one of the best locations - it is gorgeous and you feel like you are being pampered. The tasting room is right off of a courtyard type area with a water fountain and you can drink your wine outside. you get 2 tastings for $10, but they fill it up more then others and you get to keep the wine glass.

    4. Get to some smaller wineries as well as these bigger ones. They have great wine, and aren't usually packed. So maybe save these for once you are a pro :0)

    5. Find some guide books at your hotel, or at a tourist information stop. The guide books of Wine Country have coupons for free tastings and show the wineries that always have complimentary tastings. If you go to 10 wineries in your 4 days it could save you $100-$200 for the two of you depending on where you go. There is an ad for V.Sattui for a free tasting, but if you dont show it to them its $5/$10.

    Hope this helps, and most of all HAVE A BLAST! I love wine country and can't wait to go back! :0)

  • Lisa H
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    since you have four days, I would actually consider doing some time in Napa, and also time over in Sonoma County. It is only 45 min drive between both valleys, depending on where you are going.

    In napa My personal fave is Schramsberg in Calistoga. They are primarily a sparkling wine producer. Though have just released their first Cabernet Sauvignon. They do a by appointment only tour and tasting. Probably one of the best tours in the valley. Plus you get to taste 4 or 5 bubblys.

    I also really enjoy Silverado Vineyards, Luna Vineyards, Mumm, Domaine Carneros in Napa.

    If you want dinner options, Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena is fantastic.

    Then if you want to venture over into Sonoma County, there are places like Chateau St. Jean, Benziger, Kendall-Jackson, etc.

    Sonoma County has great wine, but the wineries are harder to find than in napa where almost all 400 sit right off the road.

    I would also recommend a stop at Copia in Downtown Napa. It is a wine food and art museum. And they have some wonderful classes for intro to wine tasting. They offer a program at around 10:30am that is an intro to wine tasting

    and will help guide you through wine tasting and the wineries.

    Have fun!

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  • 1 decade ago

    A good place to start is Copia in Napa. It's not a winery per se, but more of an educational center for wine. They have wine tasting, a couple of restaurants, wine exhibits, local artists, an herb garden and more.

    Don't let anyone let you feel intimidated. Napa has plenty of tourists and first timers. You won't be the only ones. Enjoy!

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