A Day of Four Tasting Experiences in Napa Valley

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Napa. Just the word brings to mind rolling vineyards, California sunshine, beautiful wineries, and epic tasting experiences. 

There’s only one problem: With 400 wineries and 90 urban tasting rooms, a sprawling landscape, and only so much time, choosing a few Napa Valley wine tours for a day’s tasting can be daunting. 

I’m here to make it easier for you with four hand-selected wineries that are in close proximity but provide vastly different experiences. Why is this important? Well, for a number of reasons.

First, if you’re traveling with a group or even one other person who desires white over your favorite red, or light over your preferred bold, you’ll want experiences that cater to both of your loves. Second, you don’t want to spend a lot of time on the road, so strategically choosing wineries in the same vicinity will ensure you spend time where you want to, savoring great wine. And third, you don’t want to dull your palate by drinking too much of the same varietal or by scheduling too many tastings in one day. 

When I chose these four, I based it on the above criteria and one additional factor: I wanted to be in a beautiful setting for each tasting. I wanted to know I was in California and soak it in with all my senses.

Here are my selections for four great wineries for a perfect day in Napa.

1Quintessa

This vineyard provides a tasting experience that is like none other. I highly recommend the Private Quintessential Experience, one I don’t think I’ll ever forget. You’ll walk by grazing sheep up a hill to a private open-air pavilion that looks down on the bucolic vineyard below. You will learn all about the sustainability, biodynamic, and organic practices the winegrowers use to produce their exquisite wine. I tasted a flight of six wines while my host talked to me about how weather conditions and recent fires have challenged their winegrowers to embrace the ecosystem and adapt to it, rather than trying to manipulate it. It was a beautiful experience — from hearing their story to taking in the breathtaking vistas to sipping the 2018 Quintessa.  

2Far Niente

This winery boasts a majestic chateau surrounded by terraced, storybook gardens and a lakeside sipping area with a picturesque gazebo. The Estate Tour & Tasting is the perfect way to see the entire estate and grounds, including the beautiful and extensive wine cave that includes a library of dusty vintage bottles. Then relax by the lake and sample the current-release wines, topped off with out-of-this world Dolce. This is the place for a rich, flavorful Cabernet and a beautifully aged, tropical Chardonnay, pleasing both red and white wine drinkers. This is also your best place for photo ops, so snap away.

3Opus One

For me, Opus One has always represented the essence of class, and a visit to this winery enforces that belief. As you make your way up the long, olive tree-lined driveway, the iconic circular winery, wings spreading out from its center, is jaw-dropping. You’ll begin to notice the signature Os incorporated into the modern design elements — they follow you to the impressive tasting room upstairs. Opus One does a red blend — dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon — and it does it very well. For the height of luxury, I urge you to try the Opus One Experience. Your host will guide you through a flight of their current vintage, plus two library selections, paired with exquisite canapes that bring out the absolute best in their wine. The vineyard team cultivates five traditional Bordeaux grape varieties, and tasting them from different years will help you learn about terroir and its effects on grape-growing. 

4Domaine Carneros

Known for their sparkling wines, Domaine Carneros is a light, refreshing way to end a day of tasting. This winery is renowned as a small grower-producer of sparkling and estate Pinot Noir, grown using traditional methods. I recommend the Sparkling Wine Sampler, which you can enjoy from your table while watching the sun dip gloriously behind the scenic rolling hills of Carneros. Your wine professional will tell you about each wine as he or she pours. After a day of tasting, this is the perfect stop for a robust charcuterie or even a world-class caviar, with a sommelier-recommended wine pairing. It’s a relaxing, casual way to end a perfect day. 

Tags: summer, Travel

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Written By

Rebecca Deurlein

Rebecca is a freelance writer, author of the book Teenagers 101 (Harper Collins), and a former Girl Scout. Her home is Houston, TX. See Full Bio

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