Napa Valley resident, winemaker, and estate winery owner, Igor Sill, compiled a list of the most popular, high-rated Napa Valley Wineries. Then, he visited each and every one of them, unannounced, to find out if they lived up to all the hype.
No other wine region on the planet draws as much attention as Napa Valley. Its incomparable beauty couples seamlessly with generations of passion that has crafted some of the world’s truly exquisite wines and, as a result, Napa Valley is visited by well over 3 million people every year.
V. SATTUI WINERY- St. Helena, Napa
Adress: 1111 White Lane, St. Helena, CA 94574
It’s a top of the best wineries because it has old-world Italian charm, more than 60 different wines, including sparkling wine and Port-style wines, vast picnic grounds, personalized winery and barrel tasting tours, food pairings, a legendary deli with fresh food and cheese, and a friendly, knowledgeable, well-trained staff. Also, it’s one of the few wineries that consistently achieve top awards for wines crafted by winemaker Brooks Painter, who joined V. Sattui in 2005 from Robert Mondavi Winery.
DARIOUSH WINERY- Oak Knoll, Napa
Adress: 4240 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558
Darioush Khaledi achieved the American dream by immigrating to the US from Iran following the Islamic revolution and started what turned out to become the largest family-owned grocery business in Los Angeles. He then founded Darioush in 1997, bringing the opulent architecture, rich culture, arts, and wines of the famed royal city of Persepolis to Napa. With all of that, his winery is amazingly impressive and rather palatial.
CASTELLO DI AMOROSA- Calistoga, Napa
Adress: 4045 St. Helena Hwy, Calistoga, CA 94515
Castello di Amorosa makes a huge first impression. Set on a Calistoga knoll, this authentically styled, 13th Century Tuscan castle winery is unlike any other. It took some 15 years for owner Dario Sattui (founder of V. Sattui Winery) to construct the castle, embracing all the elements you’d expect from an authentic Italian castle. A moat with drawbridge, high stone walls, gargoyles, a church, and a fully equipped torture chamber will fascinate and delight your senses. The castle winery produces hand-crafted Italian-styled wines, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Primitivo, and Sangiovese. A number of guided tours and tastings are available.
SPOTTSWOODE- St. Helena, Napa
Adress: 1902 Madrona Avenue, St. Helena, California 94574
Spottswoode is a true family-owned historic winery on the West side of St. Helena. Established in 1882 by George Schonewald, the estate is distinguished by the historic Victorian home portrayed on their wine labels. Founder Mary Novak has been a vital part of the fabric of Napa Valley and its wine community since 1972. Her intelligence, sense of humor, humility, and vivacious personality continues to inspire all at Spottswoode. Today, the winery is managed by her two daughters Beth Novak Milliken, the President & CEO, and Lindy Novak, who runs the winery’s wholesale marketing program. The family produces a small portfolio of four delicious varietals: Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, minuscule amounts of Syrah and Albariño.
INGLENOOK WINERY- Rutherford, Napa
Adress: 1991 St. Helena Highway, Rutherford, CA 94573
As one of the original Napa wineries, the elegant, ivy-covered Inglenook was founded by Finnish sea captain and wine connoisseur, Gustave Niebaum, in 1879. Gustave was passionate about making fine wines in small quantities. Many Hollywood legends were drawn to this Napa treasure in the 30’s and 40’s, during John Daniel Jr.’s reign of the estate. Unfortunately, Inglenook fell on hard times in the 60’s, and in 1970, John Daniel Jr. passed away. In 1975, Francis Ford Coppola acquired the notorious winery from the Niebaum family and spent considerable time, money, and energy restoring it back to its original, magnificent splendor.
ARTESA VINEYARDS & WINERY- Napa, CA
Adress: 1345 Henry Rd., Napa, CA 94559
Out of all ten wineries, Artesa offers the very best in terms of Napa scenery. The family-owned winery is set upon the highest hill of the 350-acre estate. A terrace offers beautifully expansive vistas of the surrounding countryside, and on clear days, a view of the San Francisco skyline.
Artesa’s architecture reflects a series of Spanish Mediterranean themes. Originally named Codorniu Napa, the name was changed to Artesa in 1997, which translates to “handcrafted” in Catalan. Today Artesa wines are produced from the varietals for which Carneros and Napa Valley are best known: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
DOMAINE CARNEROS- Napa, CA
Adress: 1240 Duhig Rd., Napa, CA 94559
Founded by the noble French family behind Champagne Taittinger, this majestically grand château is a splendid way to enjoy the Carneros Appellation of Napa. This stunning fairy-tale estate was modeled after a 18th-century French mansion owned by Taittinger. Carved into the hillside below the winery are cellars, replete with exceptional sparkling wine reminiscent of those crafted by Taittinger himself.
LUNA VINEYARDS- Napa, CA
Adress: 2921 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558
Co-founders Michael Moone and George Vare launched Luna Vineyards in 1995. The small estate vineyard is both magical and modern, and close by to downtown Napa. Luna is the largest producer of Pinot Grigio in Napa. This Napa Valley Winery offers a sunny patio area with ample comfortable chairs to relax in while tasting their wines.
OPUS ONE WINERY- Oakville, Napa
Adress: 7900 St. Helena Hwy., Oakville, CA 9456
This winery began as a joint venture between Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe Rothschild. The two wine behemoths teamed up to create a magnificent winery focused on producing a single Bordeaux blend, based on Napa Valley floor Cabernet Sauvignon.
STAG’S LEAP WINE CELLARS- Oakville, Napa
Founded in 1970 by Warren Winiarski, this winery brought international acclaim to Napa Valley winemaking when their 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon won the famous 1976 “Judgment of Paris” tasting. A bottle of 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon was inducted into the Smithsonian National Museum in 1996 as a result of being awarded first in this competition and to reflect the impact that the achievement had on the US wine industry as a whole.