Devin Parr September 1, 2022
Going wine tasting is often so much more than sipping through a flight of wines. It’s about experiencing Wine Country in all of its glory and hearing the stories that make a region like Napa Valley so special. While we all love to belly up to the tasting bar at a winery, there’s something to be said for taking some time to learn about the history, property, and vineyards of the place that’s producing the wines in our glass. A well-executed winery tour before a wine tasting makes the wines in our glass that much more enjoyable.
Napa Valley is known for its gorgeous vineyards, stunning wineries, and, of course, exceptional wines. It’s hard to go wrong when wine tasting in this world-famous region just outside of San Francisco. However, some Napa wineries go above and beyond to bring to life the setting in which the wines are produced, so we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite wine tours in Napa Valley.
Nestled in the heart of Napa Valley’s Stags Leap district, Pine Ridge sits beneath – you guessed it – a ridge of pines offering views of the palisades and dramatic terroir responsible for producing top-notch cabernet sauvignon from the winery’s estate vineyards in the best appellations throughout the region, including Howell Mountain, Oakville, Rutherford, and Carneros. Pine Ridge also produces the unusual and much-loved Chenin Blanc + Viognier white blend sourced from grapes grown in the Sacramento Delta region of Clarksburg.
Deeply committed to sustainability, it’s no surprise that Pine Ridge has introduced an earth-centric Morning Hike Series to their wine tour experiences. Available during summer and harvest seasons, small groups are guided on a near-mile-long hike through the hillside vineyards, learning about Pine Ridge Vineyards’ sustainable farming techniques and diverse ecosystems. This grape-to-glass experience begins with a “breakfast wine” tasting of the Chenin Blanc + Viognier blend, and additional stations allow guests to taste the bold cabernet sauvignon wines while overlooking the vineyards.
Built in 1886 and one of the first wineries that visitors to Napa Valley see when driving up Highway 29, Trefethen Family Vineyard grows only estate fruit, tends their vineyard with the winery’s own internal team, and champions sustainability in all farming practices. Today, the third generation of the family remains committed to this vision, crafting exceptional Napa wines from estate grown grapes like chardonnay, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, sauvignon blanc, malbec, and riesling.
For a magical Wine Country treat, book the Twilight at Trefethen wine tasting experience and enjoy one of Napa Valley’s spectacular evenings among the vines. This wine tour includes a dusk stroll through the property, followed by a tasting of five wines paired with seasonal bites from Winery Chef Chris Kennedy, using estate-grown produce.
A visit to Napa Valley Wine Country wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the winery that started it all back in 1861. As the oldest winery in Napa, and the longest-running tasting room in California, Charles Krug offers a glimpse into the history of this world-famous wine region. Purchased in 1943 by Italian immigrants Cesare and Rosa Mondavi, the iconic property remains family-owned today, producing elegant wines that uniquely express each estate vineyard in the family’s portfolio.
Guests will feel like family on the Charles Krug Tour and Tasting Experience as they explore the grounds of the winery, learning about two legendary pioneers of Napa Valley winemaking – Charles Krug and the Mondavi Family – and seeing the original home where Robert and Peter Mondavi, Sr. grew up.
Ehlers Estate has a long history in Napa Valley dating back to the late 1800s, when Bernard Ehlers purchased the vineyard that bears his name today. Now owned by the Leducq Foundation, established by the winery’s second owners and philanthropists Jean and Syviane Leducq to provide research in cardiovascular disease and stroke, Ehlers is a place not only known for elegant wines produced from Bordeaux varieties, but also for giving back.
The Garden Sensory Tasting is a true feast for the eyes, ears, mouth, and nose. This immersive wine tasting experience includes four wines paired with harvested seasonal herbs, flowers, and fruits from Ehlers’ estate garden. Guests are guided to collect seasonal samples, identifying various flavor and aroma characteristics as they explore the unique personalities of each wine.
Long considered one of the most iconic wineries in Napa Valley, this 280-acre property, founded by Agustin and Valeria Huneeus, sits in the heart of Rutherford, at the foot of the Vaca Mountain range. Using organic farming practices, the winery produces stunning wines from cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, petit verdot, and carménère, all of which go into their flagship bottling in different proportions depending on the vintage.
Exclusivity is the vibe at Quintessa. The 90-minute Private Winery Experience offers a tour through the gravity flow winery, introducing guests to the fermentation, winemaking, and aging process of Quintessa, followed by a walk through 17,000 square feet of caves. For an even more elevated winery tour, opt for the Quintessential Experience that begins with a tour of the estate and culminates with a seated wine tasting in a private, open-air glass hilltop pavilion.
This family owned and operated Napa Valley winery sits in the heart of Calistoga, with vines also planted in Rutherford, Carneros, and Howell Mountain. Seeing the immense potential of the site, the Davis family purchased the century-old estate winery in 2011 and embarked on an ambitious restoration journey to turn it into the remarkable property it is today.
The VIP Experience is well worth the splurge. Dedicated wine enthusiasts will be wowed by this behind-the-scenes tour as they stroll through the vineyards and experience the awe-inspiring 11,000-square-foot cave system. The tasting lineup includes sips of highly coveted reserve wines as well as the exclusive Phase V wines by Philippe Melka, each paired with a selection of seasonal delicacies created by Executive Chef Mark Caldwell.
The philosophy at this Stags Leap District winery is centered on four main pillars: stewardship, hard work, family, and hospitality, all of which shine through from the moment you step on the Napa Valley property. Patriarch Gaetano Regusci purchased the land in 1932 that now boasts five generations of family involvement, producing a rich lineup of wines that include cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, merlot, chardonnay, and several Bordeaux-style blends.
Unsurprisingly, family legacy is at the heart of the Estate Tour experience, which invites guests to walk in the footsteps of five generations of the Regusci family, traveling through history within the 286-acre working ranch. More than just a wine tasting, guests will also learn about the winery’s sustainability efforts and tour one of Napa Valley’s only remaining “Ghost Wineries.”
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