Gone are the days when the only food you could procure at a Napa Valley winery was breadsticks, maybe a cheese plate, and if you were really lucky, a gourmet picnic lunch. Today, more and more Napa wineries are leaning into the idea that wine is best enjoyed with food.
In fact, many wineries are hiring talented chefs to work directly with the winemakers to create food menus that pair perfectly with the wines and also showcase the region’s seasonal bounty—much of which is often grown on the Wine Country estates and is just as, if not even more, delicious than any meal one would get dining at a restaurant. It’s a chance for visitors to elevate the typical wine tasting experience while relaxing with a fantastic meal and learning more about the wine than they ever would standing at a tasting room. Read on to learn about 10 Napa Valley wineries that are offering exceptional wine and culinary journeys of all kinds.
It’s nearly impossible not to work up an appetite during the drive down the very long driveway that leads to this family-owned Napa winery established in 1968, so it’s perfect that there are three dining experiences from which to choose. Taste the Estate is the “quintessential wine and culinary experience,” with five wines paired with bites that showcase “the interplay of the flavors and textures of wine and food.” The Reserve Tasting takes place at the Villa where you’ll enjoy limited production wines, including their award-winning Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, paired with a charcuterie board of cured meats, local cheeses, and their estate grown preserves. Lastly, there’s a Curated tasting where you can customize your experience to your specific interests. Whether you want to taste vintage wines from their library or have their chief lead an educational experience on food and wine pairing, you can create your dream experience.1160 Oak Knoll Ave, Napa, CA 94558, (707) 255-7700
One of the region’s oldest wineries on Mount Veeder, Hess Persson Estates expresses this rugged terrain through its elegant and balanced wines. Hess provides several unique food and wine tasting experiences for visitors. Reserve the Tour of the Palate for a walking tour of the Hess Art Collection followed by a tasting of limited-production, estate wines paired with a three-course menu from Executive Chef, Chad Henderson. For those with a sweet tooth, book the hands-on Wine and Chocolate Experience. In-house Chocolatier, Chef Jason Collins, will guide you as you create your own chocolate bar and afterward, you’ll have a sit-down tasting of four wines paired with Chef Collins’s artisanal chocolates. There’s even an ATV Vineyard Tour, Wine and Food Pairing for those feeling a bit more adventurous. After a tour of the estate on a luxurious ATV, you’ll sit down for a memorable food and wine tasting.4411 Redwood Road, Napa, CA 94558, (707) 255-1144
Clif Family Winery strives to create a more sustainable world through the enjoyment of wine and food. Winemaker Laura Barrett and Executive Chef John McConnell have created several exceptional tasting experiences that pair the winery’s small-production Howell Mountain Estate wines with organic, seasonal produce directly from the Clif Family Farm. The best way to start your day is with the brunch-inspired Presto Gusto tasting. If you’re a Cabernet Sauvignon aficionado, reserve the La Cima Reserva. You’ll sip on your Cab and eat expertly created bites that highlight and showcase the nuances of each wine. The Pasto E Vino experience is a farm-to-table lunch that perfectly complements Howell Mountain wines and showcases the seasonality of the farm. All tastings occur on the outdoor terrace with vineyard views during the warmer months, or by the intimate fireside during the cooler months.709 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 968-0625
Located in the prestigious Rutherford AVA in Napa Valley, Round Pond is known for its high-end Cabernet Sauvignon, gorgeous estate with views of the Mayacamas Mountains, and olive oil production. During the Il Pranzo food and wine tasting experience, guests go on a culinary journey that begins with a tour of the winery garden and olive grove, followed by a four-course food and wine pairing featuring ingredients seen on the tour. It’s a beautiful (and delicious) way to spend a day in Wine Country.875 Rutherford Road, Rutherford, CA 94573, (707) 302-2575
This family-owned winery in Rutherford is a picturesque stop in Napa Valley, thanks to its historic tasting barn—constructed in 1908—set amidst towering Sequoia redwoods and sustainably-farmed vines. Photo opps aside, the winery is a must-visit for its Taste of Cabernet wine and food experience. Highlighting four culinary delights, prepared by Chef Britny Maureze to enhance the flavors in the wine, Taste of Cabernet is a delicious way to discover why and how Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with a variety of foods.8338 St. Helena Highway, Rutherford, CA 94573, (707) 944-2945
When Stag’s Leap’s Cabernet Sauvignon triumphed over renowned French Bordeauxs at a blind tasting in 1976, an event now known as the Judgment of Paris, the entire world started to look at California wines with a different, much more favorable, lens. Visitors can try several of the Napa Valley winery’s famous Cabernet Sauvignons during the Cellarious Kitchen Experience while dining on dishes created to “both complement and contrast their flavors and aromas” and learning the story behind the pairings.5766 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558, (707) 261-6410
Peju Winery makes excellent Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and also focuses on the guest experience, which makes it a popular Wine Country destination. The Napa Valley Rutherford estate is home to immaculate lawns, gorgeous gardens, meandering footpaths, and a 50-foot tower with a weathered copper roof that is home to the tasting room. The Reserve Tasting Experience features five of the winemaker’s favorite reserve, small-lot wines and comes with seasonal culinary accompaniments. You can also add a cheese plate to your Classic Seated Tasting or the Chef’s Sampler, which is available from Friday through Sunday. If you’re a member, you can reserve the exclusive Wine and Food Pairing experience.8466 St. Helena Highway, Rutherford, CA 94573, (707) 963-3600
Louis M. Martini has been crafting world-class Cabernet Sauvignon since 1933 and is one of Napa’s most iconic wineries. The winery offers several opportunities for food pairings, including the exclusive Underground Cellar Tasting, set in the historic underground cellar and featuring small-lot and library wines paired with fine-dining restaurant-worthy culinary creations. For a more relaxed visit that’s perfect for larger groups (up to ten people), there’s an Outdoor Cabana Tasting where guests enjoy a family-style, picnic-like meal of Italian-inspired cuisine paired with four wines.254 St. Helena Highway S, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 968-3362
Robert Mondavi was the first person to open a major winery in Napa Valley after Prohibition and truly paved the way for all the Napa wineries that followed. He was known for his appreciation of wine and food, so it only makes sense that the winery offer culinary experiences. While the famed winery undergoes renovations starting this summer, visitors can head over to its brand-new location in downtown Napa, called Arch & Tower. Here, experiences are designed to take visitors through an exploration of wine, food and culture. Don’t miss The Legend Lunch, a leisurely lunch that takes place at communal tables by the Napa River, showcasing three internationally-inspired (yet locally-sourced) courses paired with wines from The Estates Collection. For something on the lighter side, the Arch & Tower Après is a great option, featuring wines by the glass and snacks a la carte offered until 7:00pm daily.7801 St. Helena Highway, Oakville, CA 94562, (888) 766-6328
Brian Arden Wines is a small, family-owned business that produces less than 2,500 cases a year, and a relative newcomer to Napa Valley’s Calistoga region having “just” opened in 2015, but the winery has already made a name for itself when it comes to hospitality. The Chef Experience begins with a glass of wine and a tour of the property, which leads to a “substantial lunch” prepared by the winery’s own chef, with pairings either in the open kitchen or on the wraparound patio.331 Silverado Trail N, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 942-4767
Also worth noting are these Napa Valley wineries that serve tasty and elevated snacks for those looking for a pairing that’s on the lighter side. Handwritten Wines offers a Bread & Butter experience, featuring four wines poured side-by-side with white truffle potato chips, Bouchon Bakery baguette, artisan butters, Coppa Salame, and P’tit Basque cheese. Priest Ranch Winery goes bold with a Bacon & Wine experience, which is exactly what it sounds like. At Silver Trident Winery, the Potato Chip Extravaganza is a crunchy, fun, salty way to taste wine, as is the Savory Cookie Pairing that can be added to any tasting flight at Tamber Bey Vineyards. For those who prefer something a little more high-brow, Davies Vineyard hosts a Bubbles & Caviar Brunch on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings.