There are more than 850 wineries in Napa and Sonoma, from small, family-owned places to large state-of-the-art facilities.Here are some that are open to the public for tasting. Be sure to keep your eyes open for these producers in local restaurants and wine shops.
987 St. Helena Hwy., Saint Helena
Cathy Corison is a living legend, revered in San Francisco’s professional wine community by collectors and consumers. Her Napa Valley and Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons are stunning examples of this flagship grape, but one of the best-kept secrets is the dry Gewurztraminer she makes from a 30-year-old vineyard in the Anderson Valley.
1129 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga
Chateau Montelena first captured the world’s attention when the 1973 Chardonnay won the Judgment of Paris wine competition in 1976. While the Chardonnay continues to be one of the most age worthy made in California, it is the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon that hogs most of Montelena’s press these days.
3022 St. Helena Hwy. North, St. Helena
Freemark Abbey was one of a handful of wineries to make serious wines in Napa in the late 60s. The Bosche Vineyard and biodynamically farmed Sycamore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons are the stars, with great aging potential.
Grgich Hills Estate
1829 St. Helena Hwy., Rutherford
Founded in 1977 by Mike Grgich, who made the famed Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that won the Judgment of Paris tasting the previous year, Grgich Hills has a penchant toward cooler microclimate wines that are drinkable young but can also age. While the Chardonnay is the pinnacle of the production, the Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon are among the finest you’ll find on Highway 29.
436 St. Helena Hwy, St. Helena
Heitz’s Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most unique, long lived and delicious wines made in California. However, the other wines—including an organically grown Sauvignon Blanc and a Grignolino—are always worth a few sips.
Joseph Phelps Vineyards
200 Taplin Road, St. Helena
Joseph Phelps underwent a major renovation in 2014, making this already scenic spot even more idyllic. The selection includes Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah but the Cab-based blend, “Insignia,” is Phelp’s hallmark.
Robert Sinskey Wines
6320 Silverado Trail, Napa
Robert Sinskey is a moderately sized producer of wines made from organic and biodynamic grapes in Carneros and the Stags Leap Districts. A range of white and red wines is made, with Pinot Noir being the focus.
1500 Los Carneros Ave., Napa
Saintsbury has been a leading producer of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Carneros since the 1980s. In addition to the Carneros bottles, they have several single vineyard Pinot Noirs, and an always refreshing rosé.
1902 Madrona Ave., St. Helena
Spottswoode released its first Cabernet Sauvignon in 1982 and every vintage since has become a collector’s item. Today, four wines are made including their famous Sauvignon Blanc, the Lydenhurst Cabernet Sauvignon and the Field Brook Syrah from the Sonoma Coast.
Storybook Mountain Vineyards
3835 Hwy. 128, Calistoga
Storybook Mountain makes terrific Zinfandel from the Mayacamas Mountain Range, as well as small lots of Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon and a superb red blend, Antaeus. The Zin Gris and Cabernet Rosé are scrumptious summer wines.
Banshee Wines Tasting Room
325 Center St., Healdsburg
Founded in 2009, Banshee specializes in Sonoma County Pinot Noir and works with some of the most prized vineyards in the state. Many of these wines, as well as their Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah, are available to taste at the outpost in Healdsburg.
328 A Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg
Bergamot Alley is one of the best wine bars you’ll find, well, just about anywhere. It is not California focused, but you’ll see European wines here that are hard to find elsewhere. Beers and snacks are also available and most of the wines are available retail.
18596 Lomita Ave., Sonoma
Hanzell makes one of—if not the best—aging Pinot Noir in California. The Chardonnay is also legendary and several years ago they introduced Sebella, a Chardonnay that drinks earlier than the Estate bottling. Located in the newly anointed Moon Mountain AVA, it has majestic views overlooking Sonoma.
Laurel Glen Vineyard
969 Carquinez Ave., Glen Ellen
Laurel Glen has been making outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon since 1981 from Sonoma Mountain. Counterpoint Cabernet Sauvignon is a great value and the “Crazy Old Vine Rosé” is perfect for summer sipping.
11750 Mays Canyon Road, Guerneville
Located in one of the cooler spots in Sonoma County, Porter Bass makes beautifully balanced, subtle and complex wines from Pinot Noir to Chardonnay and Zinfandel. The Poco a Poco wines are terrific values as well. This is one of the few Demeter (biodynamic) certified properties in California.
Porter Creek Vineyards
8735 Westside Road, Healdsburg
Porter Creek is a family-owned organic property steeped in the French tradition of winemaking. While they are Pinot Noir focused, the old vine Carignane and George’s Hill Chardonnay are standouts.
Wind Gap Tasting Room at the Barlow
6780 McKinley St., #170, Sebastopol
Pax Mahle, the proprietor of Wind Gap, has done a superb job making natural wines from California accessible to a broader market. With Wind Gap and his other labels, Pax and Agharta, he offers a wide selection of cooler and warmer climate wines from an array of popular and esoteric grapes.
Dance in the Aisles
You can have fun in wine country without wine! Napa’s Uptown Theatre is the quintessential quaint, local establishment. It’s got a small town feel with a big time sound and features an eclectic collection of performers, from musicians to comedians and writers.