Situated north of the city of Napa and just south of the town of St. Helena sits Louis M. Martini Winery, looming and impressive yet simultaneously sleek and modern. Since unveiling its restored winery and hospitality center last year, Louis M. Martini has become a go-to destination for wine aficionados and architecture buffs alike, drawing visitors to enjoy a variety of memorable tasting experiences set amidst the chic, contemporary design.
After closing its stately doors due to Covid-19, Louis M. Martini Winery is once again welcoming visitors, though all tasting experiences are currently taking place outdoors by reservation only. Luckily, the winery’s picturesque Martini Park — a relaxing outdoor oasis ideal for safely enjoying al fresco tasting experiences — has reopened for its second season, and just in time for summer. Not only does Martini Park provide an idyllic outdoor garden from which to experience Louis M. Martini Winery’s iconic Napa Valley wines, but the expansive space is naturally conducive to social distancing.
Louis M. Martini Winery’s journey as one of the oldest and the longest continuously operated wineries in the Napa Valley to modern icon has spanned almost a century. Renowned for their small-lot and single-vineyard cabernet sauvignons and esteemed vineyard holdings such as the famed Monte Rosso Vineyard, this long-standing Napa Valley winery has been extremely influential throughout the region’s history. Beginning with the original founder Louis M. Martini and continuing with the two generations that followed after him, this historic winery and its founders have played an influential role in establishing Napa Valley as one of the world’s premier wine regions — especially as one recognized for its world-class cabernet sauvignon.
Louis M. Martini Winery and Estate underwent a significant restoration, completed in early 2019. Last spring, the winery reopened with a contemporary winery and hospitality center featuring a series of new tasting, event, and education spaces, a restored underground cellar event room with private entry (for those who may need to arrive and depart privately), and an outdoor space including a state-of-the-art kitchen, cabanas, and outdoor courtyard seating.
The new winery building, designed to showcase reclaimed materials while incorporating a modern and open style, features an impressive tasting room that offers views of the cellar beyond glass walls, a large tasting lounge designed to host guests for small-lot or reserve wine tastings, a special room for culinary demonstrations, a state-of-the-art Wine Study, and an executive meeting space. Adjacent to the newly constructed winery building sits Martini Park, the winery’s large outdoor area where guests can enjoy al fresco wine and food experiences, which originally opened in March of 2019.
Among the most significant additions to the winery during the redesign was the creation of a new culinary program, headed by Chef Jeffery Russell, a CIA alumnus with over a decade of fine-dining experience at restaurants such as Aureole in New York and Charlie Palmer Steak in Washington, D.C., and Napa. Chef Russell’s approach to food is inspired and innovative. For Russell, running the winery’s culinary program is a ‘dream job’. Not only is he able to source the best ingredients and work with an amazing space and team, but the ever-changing seasonal nature of the pairing menus he and his team create, assure that they are constantly moving, learning, and being challenged.
Since last year’s launch of their new culinary program, Louis M. Martini has offered a selection of world-class wine and food tasting experiences. Among these new offerings are their outdoor Martini Park and Cabana Experiences (held in Martini Park).
The Martini Park wine tasting experience includes a tasting flight of three signature wines with optional food pairings, served al fresco at bistro-style tables in the Martini Park courtyard, which sits adjacent to Martini’s Heritage Lounge.
Guests are seated at outdoor tables and served one white wine to taste, followed by two signature red wines and a plate consisting of three housemade food pairings designed to complement the selected wines. Guests are encouraged to relax and take their time while enjoying their wine and food, but should they desire to stay longer and enjoy more wine, bottle service is available.
The Martini Park experience is offered daily by reservation. The cost of a wine and food pairing is $45, while a wine tasting without the food pairing is $30.
The Cabana Experience is an optimal choice for groups who would like additional privacy as well as a more extensive wine and food experience. Guests are led to a semi-private and covered ‘cabana’ seating area in Martini Park, where they are encouraged to relax on comfortable sofas, shaded from the sun, while enjoying a tasting of Louis M. Martini’s Napa Valley wines alongside wood-fired pizzas, spit-roasted meats, and drool-worthy, seasonally-inspired bites (including desserts) prepared by Chef Jeffrey and his team in the Park’s expansive outdoor kitchen.
The Martini Cabana Experience is scheduled to resume in July. Cabanas will be available to guests for four hours at a time so that they can fully relax and enjoy a leisurely wine and food experience, conversation, and downtime before returning to the outside world. The cost per person (including all wine and food) is $150.
In addition to the Martini Park tasting currently offered, the Heritage Lounge Tasting is also available to guests. Hosted outdoors on the serene Heritage Terrace looking out at Martini Park, this seated experience features five of the winery’s most sought-after small-lot wines, elevated by Chef Russell’s exquisite culinary pairings.
The Heritage Lounge Tasting is available daily by appointment. The cost of a wine and food pairing is $90, though visitors can choose to experience the wine tasting without the food pairing for $60.
Reservations for Louis M. Martini’s al fresco wine and food experiences must be made in advance and can be booked online.
Photos courtesy of Louis M. Martini Winery