The Judgment of Paris: A Napa Valley Wine Tasting Guide

  • Share
Share with your friends







Submit

In 1976, British-born Steven Spurrier, a fine wine merchant in Paris, organized a wine tasting competition between California and French wines, with the expectation that the French wines would win. On May 24, 1976, Spurrier, along with a panel of French wine experts, tasted through 10 white wines and 10 red wines in two blind tastings: California wines won in both categories, putting the Napa Valley on the map. This “Judgment of Paris” completely changed the perception of New World wines; 40 years later, the effects of this legendary competition are still present in Napa Valley, ready to be tasted.

1
Wineries / Napa

Clos Du Val Winery

Since the Paris tasting, Clos du Val has continued to garner acclaim for its award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon. Visitors flock to this winery to experience the legacy in the large, ivy-covered tasting room with vineyard views. A traditional stand-up tasting bar experience is offered, as well as private tours and library tastings. The experience is relaxed and down-to-earth, so consider an outdoor tasting with views of the olive trees and the 150-acre estate vineyard. Ask about the Petite Verdot and Zinfandel, as well–they’re exceptional.

Insider Tip

You can arrange a picnic, but book a table in advance. Reservations are required due to limited space.

Directions

From downtown Napa, head North on the Silverado Trail. The destination is on the right.

Details
2
Wineries / Napa

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, founded in 1970, quickly gained acclaim when its SLV Cab won the red wine competition at the Paris tasting. Today, visitors continue to flock to this beautiful tasting room to try the renowned estate Cabernet Sauvignon while enjoying the sweeping views of the winery’s vineyards and the region’s signature rock palisades through the wall-to-ceiling glass windows.

Insider Tip

Be sure to try the incredible Cask 23 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Directions

From Clos du Val, turn right onto the Silverado Trail. Drive .9 miles. The destination is on the right.

Details
3
Wineries / Napa

Mayacamas Vineyards

Historic Mayacamas Vineyards was built in 1889 and has become well known for its Cabernet Sauvignon over the years (their 1971 Cab was entered into the competition in Paris). Taste the latest vintage while visiting the estate’s beautiful stone winery, high on Mount Veeder. Note that tastings are only available Monday through Saturday; at $75 a person, the experience is intimate and reminiscent of Old World Europe.

Insider Tip

Mayacamas Vineyards is off the beaten path, so be prepared for the long, bumpy drive up Mount Veeder on a dirt road–but the views will be well worth the trek.

Directions

From Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, turn right onto Silverado Trail. Left onto Yountville Cross Road. Left onto Yount Street. Right onto Madison Street. Right onto Saint Helena Highway. Left onto Oakville Grade. Left onto Mount Veeder Road. Right onto Lokoya Road. The destination is on the left.

Details
4
Wineries / St Helena

Heitz Wine Cellars

Heitz Wine Cellars gained acclaim for its 1970 Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon entry at the tasting in Paris. Today, Heitz continues to be known for its premium single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and laid-back, friendly wine tastings, which are held in the small tasting room in the rustic stone farmhouse-style winery, situated on the estate’s eight-acre Saint Helena vineyard.

Insider Tip

Heitz is one of the few Napa Valley wineries to offer a complimentary tasting.

Directions

From Mayacamas Vineyards, turn right onto Lokoya Drive. Left onto Mount Veeder Road. Right onto Dry Creek Road. Left onto Saint Helena Highway. The destination is on the right.

Details
5
Wineries / St Helena

Freemark Abbey Winery

This winery has changed hands and names over the years, but today is known as Freemark Abbey. The winery was represented by both their 1972 Chardonnay and by their 1969 Cabernet Sauvignon at the Judgement of Paris; today, visitors can taste Freemark’s Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon by the fireplace in the cozy tasting room, or while relaxing in the lounge furniture on the shaded patio.

Insider Tip

Ask about the Bootleg Cabernet Sauvignon, one of the wines available exclusively at the winery.

Directions

From Heitz Cellars, turn right onto Saint Helena Highway. The destination is on the right.

Details
6
Wineries / St Helena

Spring Mountain Vineyard

Spring Mountain Vineyard is a picturesque property with a rich history. The estate was founded when owner, Jacqui Safra, purchased and combined three different wineries—La Perla, Chevalier, & Miravalle—on the mountain in 1992. The property includes several buildings from the late 1800s, including the La Perla Winery and Villa Miravalle, where tastings are hosted in the latter’s elegant, chandeliered tasting room. Spring Mountain Vineyard received recognition for its entry at the Paris tasting—their 1973 Chardonnay placed 4th. Note that tastings are held by appointment only.

Insider Tip

For an even more elevated experience, request the vertical tasting experience: a seated tasting of five Cabernet Sauvignons, including one from 2006 or earlier.

Directions

From Freemark Abbey, turn left onto Saint Helena Highway. Right onto Spring Mountain Road. The destination is on the left.

Details
7
Wineries / Calistoga

Chateau Montelena Winery

A visit to Chateau Montelena allows a glimpse into Napa Valley history: the winery is known for winning the white wine competition at the Judgement of Paris with their 1973 chardonnay. Housed in a French-style, ivy-covered chateau built in 1882, the estate boasts gorgeous grounds, and the winery continues to produce estate wines today.

Insider Tip

Request a pamphlet for the self-guided tour of the grounds to learn more about this historic winery.

Directions

From Spring Mountain Vineyard, turn right onto Spring Mountain Road. Left onto Elmhurst Avenue. Left onto Main Street. Right onto Tubbs Lane. The destination is on the left.

Details

You might also like

Lodging

The 5 Best Hotels in St. Helena

When choosing where to stay in St. Helena, consult this guide to find the place…

Read More
Guides

The 8 Best Hotels in Calistoga

Visitors have been flocking to Calistoga for years, and by staying at any of these…

Read More
Guides

The 7 Best Hotels in Yountville

Yountville is home to the highest number of Michelin stars per capita in the United…

Read More
Guides

The Most Luxurious Hotels in Napa Valley

Down-to-earth luxury is what Napa Valley does best. Choose one of these elegant, deluxe hotels…

Read More