Napa Valley’s Historic Wineries in Two Days

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Visiting all (or just a few) of these historic wineries will give you a fuller understanding of the men, women, and world-wide events that have made Napa Valley the famous, inspirational, and delicious destination that it is today.

Day 1

1
Wineries / Oakville Rutherford

Beaulieu Vineyard

Experience more than a century of Napa Valley excellence. Enjoy a Retrospective Tasting featuring a flight of Library wines including Georges de Latour Cabernet Sauvignon.

Insider Tip

Around the corner from BV is the Mexican market La Luna, which sells some of the best burritos in Napa Valley.

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2
Wineries / St Helena

Beringer Vineyards

Founded in 1868 by German brothers Jacob and Frederick Beringer, Beringer Vineyards is the oldest continuously operating winery in Napa Valley. The winery managed to stay open during Prohibition by making sacramental wine for churches: now that’s dedication to the craft! Today, Beringer still specializes in making Cabernet Sauvignon, and they do it well. To learn the most about the winery, sign up for the informative cave tour, which concludes with a wine and food pairing mini-class in the historic Victorian mansion.

Visit on Saturday afternoons, when a local band plays on the sunny patio in front of the historic winery, where you can sit and sip your wine while relaxing.

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3
Wineries / Oakville Rutherford

Inglenook

Founded by Swedish sea captain Gustav Niebaum, Inglenook has been a staple of Napa Valley since its first harvest in 1882. The winery has changed hands many times over the years, and is currently owned by film director Francis Ford Coppola, who brought magic back to the historic property with a theatrical flair in the tasting room (he’s also paid fervent attention to the winery’s winemaking practices). Enjoy the wide variety of wines produced at Inglenook by booking a tasting in the stunning Penino Salon.

Insider Tip

Arrive early for your appointment to give yourself time to explore the film museum housed next to the Penino Salon.

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4
Wineries / Calistoga

Schramsberg Vineyards

Schramsberg Vineyards was founded by German immigrant Jacob Schram in 1862. The winery has produced delicious sparkling wines in the traditional method (second fermentation takes place inside the bottle) since then. The wines were mentioned in Robert Louis Stevenson’s account of his honeymoon in Napa Valley (the travel memoir Silverado Squatters), and have been featured on the White House dinner menu several times. The cave tour is both educational and fun; a great introduction to sparkling wine for newcomers and a delicious refresher for seasoned sippers.

Insider Tip

The winery is located between St. Helena and Calistoga on a secluded hillside, so it’s not easy to find lunch spots nearby. We recommend heading down the road a few miles to the Culinary Institute of America Greystone, where the student-run restaurant and cafe offer delicious dining options.

Directions

From downtown Napa, get onto Highway 29 and head north for 24 miles. The private driveway to Schramsberg will be on your left, marked by a small sign.

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Day 2

5
Wineries / Oakville Rutherford

Grgich Hills Estate

Mike Grgich founded Grgich Hills in 1977 to specialize in world-class Chardonnay. The year before, he had been the winemaker at Chateau Montelena when his 1973 Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay took first place at the Judgment of Paris. With that accolade under his belt, Mike struck out on his own. Today, Grgich Hills makes many beautiful wines at the unassuming winery on Highway 29, but the Chardonnay still shines.

Insider Tip

Visit during harvest to experience the joy of squishing a barrel full of wine grapes with your bare feet. Sign up in advance for this juicy experience, as spots fill up quickly.

Directions

From downtown Napa, get onto Highway 29 and head north for 14 miles. The winery will be on your left, immediately off the highway.

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6
Wineries / St Helena

Louis M. Martini Winery

Italian immigrant Louis M. Martini founded his winery in 1933, as soon as Prohibition was repealed. Martini was a leader of innovation and collaboration in Napa Valley over the decades, and the winery carries on that same tradition today. Enjoy a casual tasting of their Cabernet Sauvignons and red blends in the charming historic tasting room, and experience true Italian-Californian hospitality.

Insider Tip

Across the street from the winery is Harvest Table, the deliciously acclaimed restaurant of Chef Charlie Palmer, located inside the Harvest Inn. Head over after an afternoon tasting for a drink on the patio or an unforgettable meal.

Directions

Turn left out of the Grgich Hills, drive north on Highway 29 for 2 miles, and Louis M. Martini will be immediately on the right.

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7
Wineries / Calistoga

Chateau Montelena Winery

Founded in 1882 as A.L. Tubbs Winery, Chateau Montelena didn’t achieve its legendary status until the Judgment of Paris in 1976. The winery’s Chardonnay was blind tasted by French judges against other Napa Valley Chardonnays, and the most prestigious wines of Burgundy, and Montelena’s wine took first place. The upheaval this result caused throughout the wine world is still being felt today, but Montelena’s Chardonnay has remained the same for the past four decades: clean, crisp, and beautifully balanced. Visit the stunning stone chateau on a hill above Calistoga for a taste of this famous wine, as well as the other great wines made produced.

Insider Tip

Take a walk around the lake at the base of the winery and keep an eye out for wildlife: swans, geese, and otters call the lake home.

Directions

Turn right out of Louis M. Martini, drive 11 miles north on Highway 29. When you reach Calistoga, take a right onto Tubbs Lane, drive for 1 mile, and the winery will be on your left.

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8
Wineries / Napa

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars

The Cabernet Sauvignon from this Stags Leap District winery won the red wine category at the 1976 Judgment of Paris, which launched the winery into star status. Cask 23 Cabernet Sauvignon was the specific wine that won, and today it retails for a cool $245 a bottle, but you can taste many of their other wines in the tasting room and find something more affordable to take home if you’d like. The tasting room is newly renovated, with both the patio and the tasting room looking out over the estate vineyards and the real Stags Leap rock formation.

Insider Tip

Take the Fire and Water Tour, which includes a tour of the estate and vineyards, a seated flight of the estate wines, and tasty appetizers paired with the wines.

Directions

Turn left out of Chateau Montelena onto Tubbs Lane. When you reach Silverado Trail North, take a right. Continue on Silverado Trail North (which turns into just Silverado Trail) for 23 miles. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars will be immediately off the highway on your left.

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