Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Navigating Napa: Top 5 Winery Recommendations

First of all, let me preface this by saying that if you're going to Napa, you really can't go wrong when it comes to winery tours and tastings.  All of them are unique.  Each place has their own character and flair.  There's really nothing NOT to like.  All you really need to tour is a car, a map, and a listing of wineries that don't require appointments.  And a designated driver, of course.

 The circled wineries are the ones we visited during our 5 days.  
There were, um, a lot.

[Aside:  We only went to the wineries that didn't require appointments.  I'm not sure what the difference is, but if you're not into planning and scheduling every moment, then this option is for you.  There are a TON of wineries that you can just walk right in and do a tasting.]

Oooh, and another tip:  If you are with a group of people, you don't have to each buy a tasting flight!  We figured out pretty quickly that most staff will let you split a tasting, thus saving on your cost...and your tipsiness.  You're welcome.

1.  Sterling Vineyards:   This was one that had been recommended to us, as it's unique because there's an aeriel tram that takes you up a hill to the winery.  The wine wasn't that great (pretty mediocre), but the location and scenery and experience are well worth it.  This one was also a little off the beaten path.

Who knew?

2.  William Hill Estate Winery:  Funnily enough,  I had a glass of this chardonnay with my Mom the night before we left for our trip!  And then I had much more some at the resort the day we arrived.  AND THEN we discovered it was right down the street!  So this was a must-see.  It was worth the visit.  We actually meant to go back there, buy a bottle of wine, and sit outside.  It was gorgeous.  Their chardonnay is my new favorite.


3.  Darioush:  This was another winery we found randomly and decided to stop.  Of all the (many) wineries we saw, this one was, by far, the most gorgeous and ornate and breathtaking.  It was simply palatial.  My chintzy pictures don't do it justice.

4.  Raymond Vineyards:  This one was the funkiest of the bunch.  Very artsy and modern and COOL.  (Although my husband wasn't a big fan of their reds.)  We had fun taking pictures at this one.

5.  Artesa:  This was one that had been recommended to me more than once.  It was another one off the beaten path, but oh so worth the trip.  With gorgeous 360 degree panoramic views and a pretty cool gift shop, I would definitely recommend seeing this place.  (Disclaimer:  I didn't have any of their wine because by that day, I was all wined-out.  True story.)

All in all, it was definitely a fabulous trip and I'm happy to help others out (as they helped me) with vacation planning to Napa!  Now when can I go back?!


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