9 Places to Taste Excellent Napa Valley Chardonnay

  • Wineries
  • by DEVIN PARR
  • on MARCH 25, 2021
  • 33080
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Courtesy of William Hill Estate Winery
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When we hear that there is such a thing as the “Anything But Chardonnay” crowd, we scratch our heads. With so many different styles and expressions depending on where it is grown and how it is produced, we just know there is a chardonnay out there for everyone.

One of the top places in the country to experience this versatile wine grape is Napa Valley. From steely, mineral-driven, cool climate bottlings, to rich, ripe white wines with tropical fruit for days, chardonnay lives up to its potential in the hands of the talented winemakers of the region.

We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite places in Napa Valley to sip chardonnay. We promise even the strictest of the ABC devotees are sure to find something they like in this lineup.

Courtesy of Chateau Montelena

Chateau Montelena

1429 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 942-5105

This iconic Calistoga property put Napa Valley on the map when the winery’s 1973 chardonnay bested its French counterparts in the famous 1976 Judgement of Paris, changing the world’s perception of Napa Valley and American wines forever. Established in 1882, Chateau Montelena is one of the oldest wineries in the region. The property features a stunning stone castle overlooking a Chinese garden, Jade lake, and picturesque vineyards. In other words, it’s a pretty perfect place to sip their elegant, age-worthy chardonnay.

Insider Tip: True Napa Valley chardonnay connoisseurs will want to check out the winery’s Chardonnay Vertical Curated Collection, featuring six library vintages selected from the Chateau Montelena cellar.

Courtesy of Grgich Hills Estate

Grgich Hills Estate

1829 St. Helena Highway, Rutherford, CA 94573, (707) 963-2784

The mastermind behind the wine that won the 1976 Paris Tasting for Chateau Montelena, Mike Grgich, ultimately opened this Rutherford winery in 1977. Natural wine enthusiasts will love Grgich’s commitment to sustainability, as they farm their estate vineyards without the use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides, and rely on wild yeast fermentation in the winery. The result? A portfolio of wines that are elegant and expressive, including three different chardonnays, each offering a distinct take on the versatile grape.

Insider Tip: From August through November, visitors are invited to become winemaker for a day as they stomp a barrel of freshly-picked grapes in celebration of harvest, and then commemorate the occasion by leaving their grape-stained footprints on a white souvenir t-shirt.

Courtesy of Goosecross Cellars

Goosecross Cellars

1119 State Lane, Yountville, CA 94599, (707) 944-1986

This family-owned and operated winery in Yountville is known for its dedicated hospitality, welcoming atmosphere, and world-class wines. Guests are invited to take to the scenic deck to sip expertly crafted wines found only at the winery, including the Burgundian-style Napa Valley Chardonnay, made from Dijon clone fruit from the winery’s Corrotto Vineyard on the Napa side of Carneros.

Insider Tip: Members of the three-tiered wine club enjoy complimentary tastings on the “Club Patio,” in addition to a host of other perks, making it a must for fans of Goosecross’ small-production, winery-only portfolio.

Courtesy of William Hill Estate Winery

William Hill Estate Winery

1761 Atlas Peak Road, Napa, CA 94558, (707) 265-3024

Nestled at the foot of Atlas Peak, on the Silverado Bench, William Hill Estate Winery produces wines from chardonnay and Bordeaux varieties from hidden gem vineyards of California’s most celebrated regions. Established in 1976, William Hill has been crafting chardonnay that showcases the distinctive characteristics of their vineyards as well as the limitless expressions of this grape, from bright and clean with mouthwatering acidity, to sumptuous and buttery with oak and tropical fruit aromas.

Insider Tip: Book the Arbor Picnic Basket pairing and sip four wines carefully paired with a selection of culinary delights like salmon rillette, toffee made from William Hill chardonnay, and locally crafted salami.

Courtesy of Far Niente

Far Niente

1350 Acacia Drive, Oakville, CA 94562, (707) 944-2861

Celebrated for its reputation for outstanding cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay wines, this Oakville winery was established in 1885, when the words “Far Niente,” idiomatically translated to “without a care,” were carved into the original stone building. While the phrase certainly captures how one feels sipping expertly crafted chardonnay at this idyllic property, it in no way reflects the winery’s attention to quality and detail when it comes to winemaking.

Insider Tip: Experience the effects that Coombsville vineyards and volcanic ash soils have on the chardonnay grape as you sip on current and rare, library vintages of the estate-bottled Napa Valley and Cave Collection chardonnays, as well as the winery’s cabernet sauvignon, during the Cave Collection Library Wine Tasting.

Courtesy of Flora Springs

Flora Springs

677 St. Helena Highway, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 967-8032

While officially founded in 1978, grapes were first planted on this St. Helena property, located at the foot of the Mayacamas, in the late 1800s, which marked the start of Flora Springs’ fascinating history. The winery produces several different chardonnays, each with a unique flavor profile, from the juicy and tropical Family Select Chardonnay to the limited-production Flora’s Legacy Chardonnay, made from a barrel selection of the finest chardonnay of the vintage, in honor of Flora Komes, the inspiration for the winery.

Insider Tip: Flora Springs feels so strongly about the quality of their chardonnay and other white wines that the winery has been a leading proponent of the movement to introduce the #whitewineemoji.

Courtesy of Quilt & Co.

Quilt & Co. Tasting Room

807 Main Street, Napa, CA 94559, (707) 777-8198

Located in the heart of downtown Napa, this new tasting room concept is the passion project of fifth-generation winemaker and Napa Valley native Joseph Wagner. Visitors can taste through Joseph’s full portfolio of wines under one roof, exploring the diverse expressions of the chardonnay grape. A flight of Belle Glos, Napa Valley Quilt, Böen, Elouan, and others – all on offer here – will highlight the distinct acidity, aromas, oak influence, and flavor profiles of a wide range of chardonnay styles. Experiences include curated wine flights, sharable charcuterie boards, and food and wine pairings in collaboration with Quilt & Co.’s sister restaurant next door, Avow.

Insider Tip: Can’t make it to the tasting room? Book a guided virtual tasting experience with one of Quilt & Co.’s knowledgeable staff members, complimentary with the purchase of six bottles.

Courtesy of Oasis by Hoopes

Oasis by Hoopes – Hoopes Vineyard

6204 Washington Street, Napa, CA 94558, (707) 944-1869

Led by second-generation proprietor Lindsay Hoopes, who learned about farming and cultivated a deep respect for Napa Valley terroir through her father Spencer, Oasis by Hoopes is a welcoming retreat from everyday life. More than just a winery, this regenerative farm and animal sanctuary is a family- and pet-friendly destination for wine fans young and old to immerse themselves in California wine culture. Here, guests can sip multiple vintages of Hoope’s Genny’s Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay, which blends an old-world approach to production and farming, with a respectful nod to Napa terroir.

Insider Tip: For a total Wine Country getaway, book a stay at the Hoopes Farmhouse, a picturesque 1890s farmhouse that sleeps up to eight, featuring a full kitchen, pool, and wraparound porch overlooking the fruit orchard and vineyards.

Courtesy of Mayacamas Vineyards & Winery

Mayacamas Vineyards & Winery

1155 Lokoya Road, Napa, CA 94558, (707) 224-4030

This historic property dates back to 1889, when it was built into the side of a dormant volcano crater in the shadow of Mount Veeder. Known for their incredible consistency through generations of ownership, as well their reflection of classic winemaking traditions, Mayacamas’ wines are widely recognized for their outstanding quality. Their chardonnay is no exception, regularly heralded as one of the greatest examples of American chardonnay, and celebrated for its remarkable ageability.

Insider Tip: Visits to this iconic winery are reservation-only. Guests can book a tasting in advance at either the Mayacamas Downtown Tasting Room or the Vineyards Estate through the winery’s online reservation system.


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Author

Devin Parr

Devin Parr is a San Diego-based freelance writer and consultant specializing in wine, travel and lifestyle. In addition to covering the global wine industry, she is the resident expert in Temecula Valley Southern California Wine Country, serving as the region’s ambassador on behalf of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association. She holds a certification in wine expertise from the Apicius International School of Hospitality in Florence, Italy, as well as the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Diploma. In 2017, she was named one of Wine Enthusiast Magazine's Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers. Follow her adventures at @thesocalwinegal and www.devinparr.com.

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