The 10 Best Wineries in St. Helena for Newcomers

  • Wine
  • by WC STAFF
  • on JULY 14, 2015
  • 15417
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In the heart of Napa Valley, a few minutes off Highway 29 and rising above the town of St. Helena, is home to the Spring Mountain wine growing district. Here is where many of St. Helena’s best wineries offer an eclectic collection of wines and wine tasting experiences. In the city’s vineyards, you’ll find Napa Valley’s oldest winery, a compilation of contemporary outdoor art, and intimate tastings—just to name a few. If you’re a newcomer to St. Helena, this list is a wonderful sampling of all the area has to offer.

Winery and Distillery on the Hill

Image Source: CHARBAY Distillery & Winery

CHARBAY Distillery & Winery
4001 Spring Mountain Rd.
St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 963-9327
Yelp: 4.5 stars, 23 reviews

A winery and distillery in one, the family run CHARBAY ferments and distills small releases of wonderful wines, ports, brandies, and spirits. With their distillery located atop Spring Mountain, their St. Helena winery is one of the smallest in the Napa Valley—but also one of just a few legal distilleries in wine country.

Insider tip: Be sure to try the creative green tea aperitif.

Extensive Wine Education

Image Source: HALL St. Helena

HALL St. Helena

401 St. Helena Hwy S.
St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 967-2626
Yelp: 4 stars, 194 reviews

At the base of the Mayacama Mountains, HALL St. Helena offers critically acclaimed wines and a number of tailored tours and tastings available. They range from Wine Tasting 101 to Ultimate Cabernet Collector and even a Sunset Cruise. An especially interesting offering is the Demystifying Wine & Food experience, which offers an interactive look at creating and enjoying food and wine pairings.

Insider tip: Be ready to take your time here, you’ll want to stick around to explore the beautiful grounds, where there’s a collection of more than 35 pieces of contemporary outdoor art.

Personal Winery Tours

Image Source: Cakebread Cellars

Cakebread Cellars
8300 St. Helena Hwy.
Rutherford, CA 94573
(707) 963-5222
Yelp: 4 stars, 496 reviews

Cakebread Cellars offers an intimate tasting experience with tours available by appointment only—a far cry from the many crowded tasting rooms in Napa Valley. You’ll be personally guided on a tour of the winery, followed by a tasting of six different wines in their portfolio. For an even richer experience, sign up for the food and wine pairing, offered on Fridays at 11 a.m. Head inside the barrel room to cool down on a hot day: it’s always a little more comfortable in there.

Insider tip: If you’re interested in a tour, they only offer one per day at 10:30 a.m. so reserve your spot early!

Boutique Wines, Beautiful Country

Image Source: Fantesca Estate & Winery

Fantesca Estate & Winery
2920 Spring Mountain Rd.
St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 968-9229
Yelp: 4.5 stars, 5 reviews

This exclusive Napa Valley winery offers breathtaking views and even more wonderful wine. Tastings are offered by appointment only, so be sure to call ahead. If you’re feeling adventurous, ride your bike to the winery, as bike parking is available.

Insider tip: While you’re there, ask to visit the aging cave carved out of Spring Mountain: it was once an abandoned silver mine.

BBQ Picnic in Wine Country

Image Source: V. Sattui Winery

V. Sattui Winery
1111 White Ln.
St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 963-7774
Yelp: 4 stars, 2346 reviews

Another winery to visit and stay a while, V. Sattui is family-owned and has been in St. Helena since 1885 with over 60 different wines (including dozens of 90+ point rated wines). Don’t worry about coming hungry, there’s a market with a cheese shop and deli inside offering picnic fare you can enjoy at the tables and benches in the lush courtyard.

And while you’ll be greeted with a crowd on the weekends, it’s for a good reason. Join the club to enjoy the private cellar room if you prefer a quieter experience, and ask for their wine and food pairing with seven bites and seven wines.

Insider tip: On weekends, they fire up the barbecue and grill tri-tip, salmon, ribs, and prawns. Wood-fired pizzas are made to order along with fresh and grilled oysters, heirloom tomatoes, grilled crostini, and more.

Intimate Wine Tastings—and a B&B on Site

Image Source: Salvestrin Winery

Salvestrin Winery
397 Main St.
St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 963-5105
Yelp: 4.5 stars, 52 reviews

Salvestrin Winery offers an intimate, relaxing wine tasting experience. Cozy up on comfy couches in the tasting room or sit on the patio and soak up some California sun. If you’d really like to stay a while, ask about the bed and breakfast on site. Reservations are recommended, but not required.

Insider tip: Be sure to take home the information booklet, which offers recipes created by Susan Salvestrin that pair with each of their wines.

Intimate, Modern Tasting Room

Image Source: Orin Swift Cellars

Orin Swift Cellars
1325 Main St.
St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 967-9179
Yelp: 4.5 stars, 35 reviews

Get friendly in Orin Swift Cellar’s small tasting room where the decor is modern and industrial, but the staff is welcoming. Orin Swift has a large portfolio of wines, including the popular The Prisoner. Don’t worry too much about making a decision on your bottle purchase, staff are happy to offer a few extra tastings to help you find your favorite.

Insider tip: The labels found on the wine bottles are created by Orin Swift Cellar’s winemaker and founder David Swift Phinney.

Wine, Port, and Chocolates

Image Source: Prager Winery & Port Works

Prager Winery & Port Works
1281 Lewelling Ln.
St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 963-7678
Yelp: 4.5 stars, 165 reviews

In this winery, dollar bills are wallpaper and the staff treats you like family. You’ll enjoy great service guaranteed from a member of the Prager family—as three generations have worked the winery since 1979. Bring a dollar bill so you can sign it and leave it on the wall of fame, where so many others—even from around the world—have done before.

Insider tip: In addition to their popular ports, the Sweet Claire Riesling gets rave reviews from past guests.

Napa Valley’s Oldest Winery

Image Source: Charles Krug Winery

Charles Krug Winery
2800 Main St.
St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 967-2229
Yelp: 4 stars, 87 reviews

Charles Krug is the oldest winery in Napa Valley and is a National Historic Landmark. Visit the newly renovated redwood cellar and enjoy the cozy tasting room that feels like a comfortable lounge. If you drive an electric vehicle, charge your car at the winery’s EV charging stations while you relax and recharge yourself. Don’t miss the barrel tastings, and head to the upstairs loft to learn about the winery’s history.

Insider tip: The port and Culinary Institute chocolate truffle pairing is a must try.

Superior Wine, Beautiful Cask Room

Image Source: Merryvale

1000 Main St.
St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 963-7777
Yelp: 4 stars, 141 reviews

You’ll love Merryvale’s flavorful wines and great pours. Try the Pinot Noir and Antigua dessert wines—and if you join the wine club, ask for the Profile. Reserve the beautiful cask room for large groups, or just take a peek in from the tasting room.

Insider tip: When you’re done, head across the street for great burgers at Gott’s Roadside.

Eager to start planning your St. Helena winery visit? If you already have a favorite winery, tell us in the comments below!