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 while showcasing 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 ten 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.” Twilight at Trefethen takes place in the evening (a rarity in Napa Valley) and includes a short tour followed by a wine tasting and seasonal shared plates. Lastly, there’s the Legacy Tasting hosted by a certified sommelier. It begins with a tour of the winery, gardens, and Villa, followed by tastings of Legacy Collection wines paired with a hearty lunch.1160 Oak Knoll Ave, Napa, CA 94558, (707) 255-7700
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.875 Rutherford Road, Rutherford, CA 94573, (707) 302-2575
This family-owned winery in Rutherford is a picturesque stop in Napa Valley, where a historic tasting barn (constructed in 1908) is set amidst towering Sequoia redwoods and sustainably-farmed vines. Photo opps aside, the winery is a must-visit for its Taste For Cabernet wine and food experience. Highlighting four culinary delights, prepared by Chef Britny Maureze to enhance the flavors in the wine, A Taste For Cabernet is a delicious way to discover why and how cabernet sauvignon pairs well with a variety of foods.8338 St. Helena Highway, Napa, CA 94558, (707) 944-2945
When a Stag’s Leap 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.6150 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558, (707) 257-5790
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 Wine & Dine Private Luncheon can be enjoyed in one of those outdoor gardens for a fancy al fresco picnic or in a vineyard among the vines, where guests will partake in a four-course meal “paired to perfection” with Peju wines.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 eight 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 offers two culinary experiences. First, a leisurely lunch on the patio with views of the gardens and vineyards, paired with tastes of Estate Tier Wines. There’s also a Legacy Dinner where guests are able to taste older vintages and rare selections paired with a multi-course meal “that must be experienced to be believed.”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
Best known for its flagship wine, Insignia, a blend of red Bordeaux varietals, Joseph Phelps also takes its culinary experiences very seriously. Bountiful Table begins with canapés on the outdoor terrace followed by a multi-course lunch of seasonal fare paired with Joseph Phelps Napa Valley and Sonoma Coast wines, including the latest vintage of Insignia. The Chef’s Tasting Table is only offered once a month June through September and takes place at an indoor communal table. This “food adventure” is nine courses, all paired with single-vineyard wines and a library vintage of Insignia.200 Taplin Road, St. Helena, CA 94574, (800) 707-5789
Another newcomer to the Napa Valley scene, Ashes & Diamonds opened in 2017 to immediate fanfare. The winery has a mid-century modern vibe meant to appeal to a younger crowd, but wine enthusiasts of all ages will appreciate the casual, family-style “California Nouvelle-inspired” food experience. The luncheon features fresh and wood-fired dishes all made with seasonal ingredients, paired perfectly with a selection of Ashes & Diamonds wine.4130 Howard Lane, Napa, CA 94558, (707) 666-4777
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 five wines poured side-by-side with white truffle potato chips, Bouchon Bakery baguette, artisan butters, Stagberry Salame, and a 12-month aged reserve Gouda 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.