Best Napa Wineries to Visit for Zinfandel

Some wine lovers like to treat a viticultural tour like a buffet. And why not? With so many amazing varietals spread before you, sampling a little bit of everything allows you to flit the world of wines, and figure out what you like.

But if you already have a favorite bottle, like a desert island bottle that you’d be happy sipping to the exclusion of all others, a tasting trip may instead be an opportunity to dive deep and see just how diverse your favorite grape can get.

We’ve noticed that fans of the infamous Zinfandel tend to be die-hard. If this is you, look no further for a list of Napa wineries offering Zins to die for.

What makes a great Zinfandel

Zinfandel, sometimes called Primitivo, is an ancient red grape varietal that is now grown in over 10 percent of California’s many vineyards. Still a common bottle to see on shelves and tasting menus, the varietal’s popularity experienced a crash during prohibition from which it never recovered. Cabernet Sauvignon also upstaged Zin as the top grape in the Napa Valley following the former’s historic win in the Paris Tasting of 1976. But what Zinfandel lacks in ubiquity it makes up for in excellence, a unique flavor profile, and a high alcohol content.

Zin grapes have a high sugar content compared to their peers, meaning a greater proof in the final product. This feature also lends a juiciness, and a tasting profile that is typically berry-forward with a bite of spice at the finish. Common notes include jammy blueberries, ripe cherries, and licorice.

How to taste Zinfandel

A relatively high tannic structure means Zins should be given room to breathe following corkage. Ideally, especially for hard reds like Zin, you would decant your wine or let it rest in the goblet to let it aerate and soften before enjoying.

Zins like to be poured into a relatively narrow goblet that lets you experience its complex aromas without breathing in the stronger alcoholic vapors, which can disrupt the experience. Swirling your wine around the glass can help to further aerate and soften the tannins. 

Or, you can try pairing the wine with a delicious treat! Zinfandels go incredibly well with many strong, savory delights such as oily garlic fries or cheddar cheese. The strength of the Zin helps to cut through the fattiness of each of these dishes, while their umami notes tenderize Zin’s tannins and elevate the fruitier elements of the wine.

Top spots for Zin in the Napa Valley

Are you rarin’ to find your next glass of Zin, now? So are we. And here are a few fabulous Napa Valley wineries where we could meet.

The Biale Vineyards have been Napa’s leading Zinfandel champion since the grape’s crash post-prohibition. In 1937, founder Pietro Biale planted Zinfandel vines amongst the other crops the farmer was growing for food – and the rest is history.

The winery sells a huge variety of Zins, sourced from 17 vineyards across the Napa Valley. Fans of the varietal can book a tasting experience on the Robert Biale back porch, or tour the estate and enjoy a flight of gorgeous Zins made only from the choicest plants in the region.

  • Ink Grade
    This small vineyard sits nestled amongst the evergreens of Napa’s Vaca Mountains, where the Zinfandel grapes ripen high in the sun, and with their own very special view. The Zinfandel plant is hardy, drought resistant, and loves dry soils, making it a favorite of Ink Grade winemaker Matt Taylor for growth in a California vineyard.

    Visitors to the estate can take a traditional tour, or experience a virtual journey through an immersive video projection that guides you through each season on the land, all with a glass in your hand. Lover’s of Zinfandel must taste the Andosol Red Field Blend, a Zin-heavy bottle with just a splash of Cab Sauv in to soften the blow.
  • Clif Family Winery
    From the creators of the iconic Clif bar comes an undeniably delectable collection of Zinfandel. The Clif family’s relationship to wine evolved out of their love of food, and desire to bring convenient, tasty nutrition to active individuals on the go. Moving from manufacture to farming, adding wine grapes to their crops was as natural as the ingredients in their bars.

    There are a few ways Zin lovers can sample the vineyard’s products: a tasting room can be booked for private or group experiences, or foodies with a more mobile tasting style can belly up to the Clif Family Food Truck to order a glass of Zinfandel with Funghi Bruschetta.


Companions of the Zinfandel-obsessed will be delighted to find Zinfandel Gris among storybook’s many Zin-themed offerings. And the Zin-obsessed themselves will be delighted to find a vast selection of single-vineyard bottles of truly top quality Zinfandel both in their shop, and at their tasting table.

Originally named Grimm Vineyards for the brothers who first broke land on this site, Storybook survived prohibition as a source of sacramental and medicinal wines, but was lost to wildfire in 1964. 

12 years later, the soon-to-be owners fell in love with the wildness of the place, and revived the site and its surviving wine caves to start fresh, planting a large crop of Zinfandel. The first bottle, released in 1983, won a gold medal, securing a permanent place on the map for this small mountain vineyard. Storybook’s Zinfandels now rank among the top 6 in the world.

The vineyard offers an extremely affordable tour rate – which can be waived with the purchase of 2 bottles – wherein visitors can walk the caves and vineyards, relax in a stunning redwood grove, and, of course, sample lots and lots of Zin.

Old Vine Wine Tours

Book your next Napa Valley wine adventure with Old Vine Wine Tours today. 

The 3 Best Wine Caves in Napa Valley

Summer has arrived with a bang in California, and wine lovers everywhere are planning their first tours of the season. Let’s take a guess – when you imagine tasting your favorite Chard under the West Coast sun, you’re seeing gingham blankets on green lawns, outdoor cafes on bustling market streets, and sunhats on breezy vineyard balconies. Are we close?

Don’t get us wrong: that all sounds delightful. But know that when the sun shines just a little too hot, or night falls just a little too cold, Napa’s many wine caves form a network of underground wonders carved into the valley’s verdant hills. 

What is a wine cave?

Temperature, light, and humidity are all important factors in viticultural aging, and bottles that need a minute between fermentation and corkage benefit from some time spent in a dark, cool place. This can be achieved with modern refrigeration, but a cheaper, easier, and more time-tested solution is to place the bottles in vaults underground. 

These vaults, known as wine caves, have been in use in Napa and surrounding counties since the late 1800s, giving winemakers an easy storage solution that kept delicate vintages well away from the California sun. As viticultural tourism in the area grew, wine caves evolved from simple – albeit beautiful – storage spaces, to venues and event halls wherein wineries would host tasting parties, dinners, and other experiences right there among the bottles.

Now, wine caves are both practical solutions to the process of wine making as well as popular destination spots for viticultural enthusiasts.

Etiquette for visiting a wine cave

If you’ve never been to a wine cave before, here are a few tips to follow that may help you to elevate your experience, and the experience of those around you.

  • Avoid wearing scents. As a general rule, skipping your scented products for a day of wine tasting can help you to appreciate the flavors of your beverage even more. But especially in an enclosed, windless space like a wine cave, not wearing perfume, cologne, or other products means that you’re also sparing the noses of the other tasters.
  • Turn off your ringer. Just like at the movies, turning your ringer off helps to avoid causing annoying disruptions, like in the middle of a guided tasting. And, just like natural caves, wine caves are extremely echoey, meaning your ringer will sound even louder if it goes off.
  • Ask before you touch. Do not pick up or even touch any of the bottles of wine you see on the racks without explicit permission from your guide. The aging process can be a delicate one, so when in doubt, let the horizontal bottles rest where they are, and instead simply enjoy the wines that are being poured for you. To this point as well – no flash photography unless the guide says it’s okay.

Of course, specific events held in wine caves may have a particular dress code or set of rules they want you to abide by, so remember to read the whole invitation before you leave the house. And have fun!

What to bring with you to a wine cave

Most wine caves provide a well-tended and well-catered experience, so the only thing you really need to bring is yourself, and your love of wine. That said, here are a couple things you may want to have on-hand.

  • A sweater or extra layer. Yes, we know it’s hot outside, but wine caves are kept between 55 and 65 degrees at all times, so a sweater or jacket can help you to keep warm and comfortable during a long tasting session.
  • A reusable water bottle. Keeping hydrated is an important thing during an in-depth tasting session. Most wine caves will have water for you to drink somewhere on the premises, but it never hurts to have your own hydration station.

And again, refer to the website or event page of your chosen wine cave to see if they recommend bringing anything specific.

3 must-see wine caves in the Napa Valley

Ranging from a classical aesthetic to something straight out of a science fiction novel, Napa Valley’s wine caves are required viewing for anyone who loves viticulture. Here are 3 of our favorites that offer a little taste of everything.

The caves at White Rock are only 35 years old. But stepping into them, you might expect to see a herd of running bison painted onto the rough, white-stone walls. Named for the stone into which it was dug, the White Rock Winery’s caves have an ancient feel to them, where patrons can go to taste their very contemporary small-batch bottles.

The wines they serve are mostly grown from 20-year-old vines, planted in the rich soils at the base of the Stag’s Leap estate. Michael Vandendreissche, winegrower at White Rock, says he strives for balance in each bottle produced. This low-yield vineyard nevertheless offers an array or varietals, with Chardonnay being their most popular to taste.

Visitors to White Rock will need to reach out to schedule a customized visit of the vineyards and caves.

It’s got the feel of a medieval villa on the outside. But on the inside, it’s as if they plucked the International Space Station from the sky, buried it in the Napa hills, and filled it with wine. 

Failing to get the permits they needed to build a towering winery optimized for gravity-flow process, Amalia and Julio Palmaz instead dug 18 stories down into the soils of Mt. George to create the sci-fi cave system they needed to avoid the use of pumps, and give their iconic Cabernet Sauvignon a velvety mouthfeel – all for your pleasure.

Eschewing the more traditional look of Etruscan tile work, the main fermentation dome within the caves sports a projection of data being gathered from the wine-filled tanks in real time, allowing winemakers to keep a very close eye on the conditions within, further protecting and ensuring the quality of their product at the other end.

Visitors can take a tour of these futuristic caves, taste their wines, and book a delicious culinary pairing experience via the Palmaz website.

We’re back on earth after our visit to space, and lounging in Brasswood’s wine cave that feels more like a Bond villain’s dining room than a stony cavern (although that’s just as likely to exist in a cave.. There’s no dress code from what we can tell, but somehow it feels wrong to enter in anything less than white tie, ideally with a white cat tucked under one arm.

Named the Cave Library, this special space – nestled within the length of Brasswood’s 17,000 square feet of caves – is furnished with a gorgeous feast-length redwood table and racks that house some of the winery’s oldest vintages. Visitors to the space can stretch out and enjoy a flight of the vineyard’s top wines, paired with a selection of artisanal cheeses.

How to find the right wine cave experience for you

Napa has more medieval, more modern, more space-age wine caves than you can shake a goblet at. So whatever suits your fancy, chances are there’s a wine cave with the right vibe. Or, if you’re not sure, you can let Old Vine design the perfect wine cave tour for you, and take you on a journey through time and space with a trip to all of these extraordinary spaces. Just remember to bring a sweater!

Book your next Napa Valley wine adventure with Old Vine today.

How to Find the Best Wine Tours in Napa Valley

The Napa Valley is synonymous with world-class wine. It has been since its firm and famous debut onto the global viticultural stage at the Paris Tasting in 1976. A panel of judges, skeptical that the upstart California wineries could compete with old-world vintages, shocked the world when they awarded two Napa-based vineyards top marks in a blind tasting. The rest, as they say, is history.

Since then, Napa and Sonoma wine cultures have grown and diversified. Tourists who visit the valley will find a veritable flight of caves, bars, vineyards, and novelty trips to suit every palate. But not all are created equal, and it’s easy for new travelers to fall into tourist traps, or otherwise suffer expensive, overplayed, and disappointing experiences. 

So, whether it’s your first time in Napa or you’re a veteran viticulturalist looking to find some new valley favorites, it’s worth digging a little deeper to find a wine tour that ticks all your boxes. Here are a few ideas from us at Old Vine.

What to look for in a wine tour

There are rules upon rules that instruct interested wine drinkers on how to properly taste their beverage, to understand and appreciate the complexity of the vintage in front of them. There are also rules and concepts that illustrate what a “good” wine should taste like – things like balance, body, tannic structure, and palate. And these are important instructions that help us to set standards of quality within the wine industry. But if you’re looking just to have a good time on a Napa Valley wine tour, the most important thing is that you enjoy the wine you’re tasting.

And that’s exactly what a wine tour should offer – there is no play book that tells us what separates a “good” wine tour from a “bad” wine tour (although we have some opinions about where you should be spending your hard-earned money.) What matters is whether the tour you select offers the kinds of experiences you most want to have.

From food-forward fairs to architectural promenades, and from farming experiences to urban wine caves, the Napa Valley has everything you could ever hope to see on a really good wine tour. So before you book, think about your dream wine tour, and shop around for it – chances are, it exists.

Pre-formatted or bespoke: Which is better?

One easy way to find the ideal wine experience for you and yours is to seek out a company that specializes in tailoring tours to suit your wants and needs. 

Pre-formatted wine tours can be fun for generalists who just want to kick back and be whisked off to many must-see wineries around the valley. All you have to do is sign up, show up, and enjoy the tour – typically this will involve a bus ride to a number of popular destination wine experiences, including several tastings and a curated meal. 

A pre-formatted tour is guaranteed to give a similar experience every time. But for the adventurous among you with specific tastes, a bespoke tour offers so much more. 

Whatever you want to get out of your Napa Valley visit, going bespoke offers a convenient way to both find and see the special spots you might otherwise miss. For couples, birthday parties, bridal showers and more, a bespoke tour offers private and personalized experiences like:

  • Pinot-only experiences.
  • Boutique wine tastings.
  • Farm and vineyard visits.
  • Music-inspired wine bar visits.
  • Landmarks of viticultural history.

And more.

Musts and misses: Napa wine experiences to definitely see, or definitely skip

If you prefer to take a self-guided tour across the counties, allow us to steer you in the direction of a few really fabulous wine experiences in the Napa Valley – and away from others.

Must: Inglenook Estate

For a really classic winery experience that’s rooted deep in Napa Valley wine history, Inglenook is required viewing. 

Established in 1879, the Inglenook vineyards have navigated blight, war, prohibition, and more to bring the world the celebrated vintages of today. 

Offering original architecture, old-growth vines, and a variety of edible experiences including standard wine tastings as well as curated dinners, Inglenook transports visitors back to another time while providing a wholly contemporary experience. 

If you want to taste the quintessential Napa Valley vineyard, Inglenook is the place to do it.

Must: The Donum Estate Outdoor Art Gallery

Rather ride an ATV with a glass of Chard in your hands? Look no further.

About as modern as they come, the Donum Estate is pioneering the future of Napa Valley wine culture with sustainable farming practices, and an experience that combines adventure, wine, and contemporary art.

Visitors can enjoy a sip of their single-appellation Pinot Noir or Chardonnay in their futuristic tasting room, which is already plastered with gorgeous works by world-famous artists. 

If you want to upgrade your experience, the Donum Estate also offers a culinary experience including a walk in their on-site edible garden and a selection of curated snacks. 

Another step up, and visitors can tour the land from the back of an all-terrain vehicle and take in the estate’s collection of outdoor sculptures (including a Yayoi Kusama gourd!)

Miss: The Wine Train

It may sound fun, but the Napa Valley Wine Train is one of the most over-priced and underwhelming wine experiences one can have on their visit. In fact, this tacky tourist activity has earned a reputation as one of the “biggest tourist traps” the US has to offer.

On paper, many of the experiences you can have aboard the historic rail-bound vehicle sound okay: long round trip journeys offer food and beverage service, sometimes with seasonal events such as Santa Clause encounters or the classic 20s-themed murder mystery.

But take it from us: save your money. Expensive, slow, the train fare pales in comparison to other culinary experiences available in the valley, and wine doesn’t taste any better moving at a snail’s pace.

If you want to drink wine aboard a train, buy a bottle from a local wine shop and ride Amtrak home. Or if it’s views you’re after, skip the train and visit one of these vista-vineyards instead: Napa wineries with the best views.

Old Vine Wine Tours Can Help!

Old Vine Wine Tours offers bespoke wine experiences in the Napa Valley and beyond, for life events big and small. Let us help you celebrate in style, whether it’s a birthday, a bridal shower, a wedding, or a mental health weekend! We offer unique tours that take you behind the scenes and allow you to experience Napa Valley’s hidden gems, like these Boutique Wineries.

Ready for a delicious adventure? Get in touch with Old Vine today.

Why Use a Wine Tour Service

When visiting Sonoma and Napa Wine Country, using a wine tour service can enhance your experience in several ways:

  • Enhanced Knowledge:

  • Guided tours provide valuable insights into the world of wine. You’ll learn about grape varieties, winemaking techniques, and the unique characteristics of each vineyard. Expert guides share their passion and expertise, enriching your understanding of wine
  • Expert Recommendations:

  • Tour guides often recommend specific wineries based on your preferences. Whether you love bold reds, crisp whites, or sparkling wines, they’ll tailor the tour to your taste. Their local knowledge ensures you visit the best spots
  • Stress-Free Transportation:

  • No need to worry about driving! A designated driver or professional service ensures you can fully enjoy the tastings without any safety concerns. Plus, you won’t miss out on the scenic views while navigating unfamiliar roads
  • Social Interaction:

  • Wine tours are a great way to meet fellow enthusiasts. You’ll share the experience with others, exchange recommendations, and perhaps make new friends. It’s a social adventure that adds to the enjoyment

So, consider a wine tour service—it’s not just about sipping wine; it’s about immersing yourself in the beauty, culture, and delicious wines of the Napa and Sonoma Wine Region!

Next Steps

Book Your Tour Today so you don't miss out!

Three Day Itinerary in Sonoma County

Sonoma County, with its inviting tapestry of valleys, mountains, and coastlines, offers a delightful wine-tasting experience just north of San Francisco and west of Napa Valley. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a lifelong fan, here’s a three-day itinerary to guide your wine tour adventure:

Three Day Itinerary in Sonoma County Wine Country

Day 1: Exploring Russian River Valley and Alexander Valley

  1. Morning: Start your day in Healdsburg with coffee and pastries at Quail & Condor. Their croissants, with about a million layers of crispy, buttery heaven, are a must-try. Trust me, the decadent Kouign Amann will change your life!
  2. Wine Tasting:
    • Landmark Vineyards’ Hop Kiln Estate: Sample exquisite Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that define the Russian River Valley. Book the Bocce & Wine Experience for a casual tasting with friends.
    • Jordan Winery: Visit this iconic, French Chateau-inspired winery for California Cabernet.
    • Aperture Cellars: Explore stunning architecture and elegant wines from Alexander Valley
  3. Evening: Enjoy a glass of wine with friends at Aperture Cellars while taking in the vineyard views.

Day 2: Sonoma Coast and Moon Mountain District

  1. Morning: Head to the Sonoma Coast AVA. The vineyards cooled by ocean breezes produce ethereal Pinot Noirs. Consider visiting Fort Ross Vineyard & Winery for breathtaking coastal views.
  2. Afternoon:
    • Moon Mountain District: Rise more than 2,000 feet above Sonoma Valley and explore sun-drenched Zinfandels and robust red blends.
    • Lunch: Grab a bite at a local eatery like Glen Ellen Star or the girl & the fig.
  3. Evening: Relax and unwind at a cozy inn or boutique hotel in Sonoma.

Day 3: Carneros and Dry Creek

  1. Morning: Explore the Carneros AVA, known for its Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. Visit Domaine Carneros for sparkling wine and stunning vineyard views.
  2. Afternoon:
    • Dry Creek Valley: Taste full-bodied yet structured Cabernet SauvignonsSeghesio Family Vineyards and Ridge Vineyards are excellent choices.
    • Lunch: Savor farm-to-table cuisine at the girl & the fig or Valette.
  3. Evening: Reflect on your wine-filled escape and toast to unforgettable memories!

Remember to pace yourself, stay hydrated, and enjoy the beauty of Sonoma County. Cheers!

Next Steps

Reserve Your Tour Dates Today!

Best Napa Wineries for Cabernet Sauvignon

The Napa Valley offers a veritable buffet of wines to choose from, ranging from time-tested bottles made in the traditional European style, to extraordinary new blends which are blazing the trails of winemaking. So whether you like a little novelty or prefer to relax into the familiar, you’re sure to find something to suit your taste in California’s wine garden.

But even fans of the avant-garde can benefit from a trip through the classics. Understanding common varietals like the Pinots and Cabernets will give budding sommeliers a strong foundation from which they can build their tastes and expertise. So why not do it in Napa?

Whether you’re building your palate or simply like the taste, let’s start with one of the most popular and recognizable grapes in the world: The Cabernet Sauvignon.

What is Cabernet Sauvignon?

Known familiarly as “Cab,” this iconic wine variety makes up no less than 5% of the world’s total viticultural production. The plant itself is hardy and flexible, lending itself to a range of growing environments that contribute to both its accessibility, as well as its popularity.

Cabernet Sauvignons are red, full-bodied wines with relatively low dryness compared to their medium-high tannins. After juicing, Cabernet Sauvignons are fermented in oak barrels, which both introduce new and unique flavors to the final product, as well as softens the final tannic structure, resulting in a gentler and more drinkable wine. Most Cabs are happy to age for ten or more years in your wine cellar, and will only grow softer and more refined over time.

Tasting Cabernet Sauvignon

Different takes on Cabernet Sauvignon may require different serving and tasting methods. For example, a new wave of chillable reds has more wine enthusiasts chilling their Cab Sauvs for a refreshing summertime beverage. The fruity flavors of this wine also make it a popular although non-traditional ingredient in sangria.

There are many ways to enjoy a Cabernet Sauvignon, but here’s how you can expect to drink it on a tour of a Napa winery:

Cab Sauvs are served between 60 - 68 degrees, cool but not cold, and are typically decanted or allowed to breathe for an hour prior to pouring.

A small serving in an oversized goblet helps the wine to further aerate – the larger glass also allows more room for your nose, so you can enjoy the wine’s unique aromas as you sip.

Cabernet Sauvignons will offer a unique taste depending on the soil in which the grape was grown. The Napa Valley offers its own terroir, as well as a regional fermentation style that seasoned tasters may recognize. Notable California Cabernet tasting notes include black currant, blackberry, graphite, tobacco, and mint.

Different serving methods may bring out different characteristics in the wine or help you to experience the subtler flavors each varietal has to offer. But the golden rule for tasting is, whether or not you know what you’re doing, that you should enjoy it. So feel free to ignore any and all of the above suggestions if it doesn’t suit your tastes.

The Best Napa Wineries for Cabernet Sauvignon

There are more prize-winning Cab Sauvs in the Napa Valley than you can shake a wine goblet at. That said, here are a few of our favorites from iconic Napa wineries.

  • Stag’s Leap
    This winery put California on the viticultural map after a Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon beat out a number of Bordeaux competitors in a 1979 wine tasting event. Presided over by French judges, Stag’s Leap’s winemaking prowess could not be denied.

    45 years later, and the Napa-based winery is still growing and producing world-class bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon, in a range of styles. The vineyard currently serves 16 distinct vintages from as far back as 2012, featuring both single-grape Cabernets, as well as Cab-dominant red wine blends.

  • Nickel & Nickel
    This Oakville-based winery is committed to producing the clearest expression of each varietal they tend with single-grape wines harvested from just one vineyard. Not only will partakers in their flagship Cabernet Sauvignon taste the unique terroir of the Napa Valley as a whole, but also the hyper-specific flavors of just the few acres of sun and soil in which the grapes are grown. This Cab Sauv is like nothing else in the world, so be sure to pay Nickel & Nickel a visit the next time you’re in California.

  • Pine Ridge Vineyards
    Pine Ridge sources its grapes from all over the valley, with special attention given to few of the region’s most extraordinary appellations, so visitors can taste what makes each vineyard so special without ever switching to another varietal!

    Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignons include unique vintages from Howell Mountain, Stag’s Leap District, Oakville, Rutherford, and of course the Pine Ridge Estate.

  • Inglenook
    Located in Rutherford, home to many of the area’s most prestigious wineries, Inglenook Vineyards was founded in the late 19th century by a Finnish sea captain named Gustave Niebaum. Having struck metaphorical gold in the fur trade, Niebaum purchased the Inglenook land and began reading all he could about the art of winemaking, amassing a formidable viticultural library as he learned.

    During its century-and-a-half of production, the winery has passed to many hands, most recently film director Francis Coppola, and won a veritable mountain of viticultural medals and other culinary awards. Visitors to Inglenook will taste the history in the company’s estate-bottled Cabernet Sauvignon.

  • Beaulieu Vineyard
    Considered by many to be the premier producer of the Napa Valley Cab Sauv, Beaulieu has earned the title of “cult” winery for its elite and limited production of distinct reserve bottles. Begun by Georges LaTour and his wife in 1900, Beaulieu is firmly established as one of the founding wineries of California’s most iconic viticultural region.

    Known familiarly as BV, Beaulieu has thrived with more than a century of wine production, even profiting during prohibition as the primary producer of altar wine for Catholic churches in America. Now, visitors can enjoy the fruits of its history and labor with an all-Cabernet tasting flight including new bottles, or rare legacy vintages.

Next Steps

Contact Us to Reserve Your Wine Tour Day!

Best Boutique Wineries in Napa

When we imagine a luxurious wine tasting experience, many of us think of country chateaus in verdant and picturesque valleys, nestled amongst cypress groves, the vineyards stretching off into the sunlit horizon. 

To be sure, many of the world’s most iconic wineries do offer this kind of painterly setting to their visitors. But the creation of good wine is not dependent on the size of the estate – many of the Napa Valley’s cult favorite vintages are cultivated and vinted by small but mighty operations, known as boutique wineries.

What is a boutique winery?

Like boutique shops, a winery described using this term offers a highly curated experience which promises a certain level of quality. These wineries are often very small, and produce limited runs of only a few styles made from grapes cultivated in vineyards spanning only a few acres.

Boutique wineries focus their efforts on producing unique, absolutely excellent vintages that give their patrons a view into the terroir and micro-traditions which the business pours into the making of each bottle.

Boutique vs. commercial wines

In contrast to the small operations of a boutique winery, commercial operations scale up their productions with a higher quantity and larger variety of wines produced throughout the year. Commercial wineries often have large vineyards from which they harvest their grapes, or source grapes from many vineyards which may or may not belong to the company which is manufacturing the final product.

Commercial wines are often cheaper than boutique bottles simply owing to the size and breadth of the business, but this does not mean that one is inherently better than the other. Delicious varieties can come from both types of wineries.

Where to find boutique wineries in the Napa Valley

The Napa Valley is one of California’s largest, and most famous, wine-growing regions, incorporating 16 unique appellations and 400 individual wineries within its area. From huge wine growing operations, to tiny mom-and-pop vineyards, wine lovers could spend a lifetime tasting their way through the hills, forests, and fields of this county and never get bored.

Wine tourists to the area should make sure to check off some of the famous wineries that put Napa on the global wine map. But between visiting the bigger cellars, here are a few boutique businesses we can’t recommend enough.

  • Nichelini
    Take an historic deep-dive with wines from Nichelini: one of the very first family wineries founded in the Napa Valley. Erected in 1884 by Anton Nichelini, the business is still owned and operated by the Nichelini family five generations later, with a great-great-great-great granddaughter overseeing production as head winemaker.

    Nichelini offers a sweet, rustic experience in all seasons, with much of the original architecture in-tact on the property. Enjoy a bottle of their newest releases or time-tested favorites with a picnic and lawn games in the spring and summer, and a cozy couch in the fall and winter.
  • Picayune
    This tres belles winery is owned and operated by French native Claire Ducrocq Weinkauf, who combines the tradition and history of her homeland with the soils and materials of the Napa Valley to create something new and delicious.

    Picayune’s tasting room is located in downtown Calistoga, nestled amongst small shops and restaurants so visitors can truly enjoy a boutique experience all around. Claire partners with other wine makers both local and abroad, bringing forth such delights as her Champagne Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs: a Pinot-based bubbly crafted from grapes grown in the heart of France’s Champagne appellation.
  • Tank Garage
    An experience like no other, Tank Garage is a recent addition to the Napa wine scene, serving eclectic new bottles out of their tasting space located in an ancient, defunct gas station. Offering punk-rock attitude and a 50’s greaser aesthetic, Tank Garage may surprise the skeptical among us with their attention to craft, and absolutely delicious selection of small-batch wines.

    This is a must-stop on any wine tourist’s list, with something for everyone stocked in the vibrant cellars of this unique establishment. Make a reservation, order a flight, and buy a bottle or two to take home.
  • Schramsberg
    Lovers of all things bubbly will want to move into this cozy, family-owned winery that has dedicated its vineyards and cellars to producing a range of small-batch sparkling wines.

    Founders Jack and Jamie Davies rescued an abandoned winery and vineyard back in 1965, pouring their love and hard work into the property to make it what it is today: one of the best and most unique boutique wineries in the Napa Valley.

    Visitors to the small estate can enjoy a tour of the grounds as well as the winery’s expansive caves, and nibble on a selection of local cheeses alongside their glass of sparkling rose ́.
  • Gamling & McDuck
    Voted “Best Hidden Gem Winery” by their peers, Gamling & McDuck is one boutique winery that’s paving the new road for Napa wine culture with exactly two varietals of top-tier wines served in an art-forward environment.

    Eclectic, irreverent, emotional, Gamling & McDuck’s Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc are for lovers of wine who want to experience the glass rather than analyze it. Although you could probably talk tannin levels and tasting notes too, if you like – they want you to do you while you sit in downtown Napa and swoon over their delicious, totally unique vintages.

Thirsty for more?

We’ve got a lot going in on in our cellars, including further guides to wine touring in Napa, talks with experts in the industry, as well as phenomenal, affordable wines to give you a taste of Napa from the comfort of your own home.

Fancy a vista with your wine tasting experience? Check out our list of Napa wineries with the best view.

Next Steps

Contact Us to Reserve Your Wine Tour Day!

Napa Wineries with the Best Views

California has some of the most varied landscapes of any state in the US. From snow-capped peaks to white-sand beaches, and lush coniferous rainforests to arid desert expanses, The Golden State has something for everyone – especially wine lovers.

Grape tourists looking to feast their eyes while they sip their favorite beverage will find themselves immersed in painterly beauty, whatever California winery they choose to visit. But for those seeking a truly iconic experience, the Napa Valley offers a taste of the state’s finest – wine and vistas alike.

What’s to love about the Napa landscape

Napa County sits in a lush valley, just North San Francisco and around 25 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. Within the county are a number of boutique towns and cities which are famous for their food, wine, and arts and culture.

Heading out of these picturesque communities, visitors to the region will quickly find themselves entering the vineyards, where grapes ripen uncovered in the California sun.

The valley is surrounded by rolling hills, some of which play host to more grapes happy to grow at a slightly higher elevation. If the hills aren’t covered in grapevines, visitors may view craggy rocks emerging from seas of wild golden grass, or young forests of Live Oak and Coastal Redwood.

Visitors to the Eastern side of the valley may enjoy Lake Berryessa, the biggest body of water in Napa County, and popular spot for boating, fishing, hiking, and swimming in the warmer months.

The Napa landscape has a lot to offer, and the best part is, there’s wine everywhere! Wherever you go in the Napa Valley, you’re in for a treat.

7 Napa Wineries with the Best Views

There are more than 400 wineries and 90 in-town tasting rooms in the Napa Valley – that’s 1 wine experience every 1.5 square miles across the county. You really can’t go wrong in California’s iconic viticultural valley, but if you want a view with your tasting flight, here are 6 Napa wineries to see. 

  • Castello di Amorosa – Calistoga
    You’ll arrive onto the property and believe you’ve stepped back in time. The castle that houses this winery was in fact built in the 21st century, but designed to give visitors the feeling of walking through medieval Tuscany.

    The interior of the structure is gorgeous, from the many muralled tasting rooms, to the vaulted fermentation cellars. Head outside to the castle walls, or the verdant moat-side grounds, and take in an expansive view of the winery’s vineyards, framed by a tall coniferous wood on one side, and on the other the stunning California hills rolling into the distance.

  • V. Sattui Winery – St. Helena
    This winery is another gem that feels like stepping back in time. Only now, instead of a lord’s fortress, we’re heading to the countryside to sip wine and picnic in a classic Italian vintner’s villa.

    V. Sattui is great for casual visits, or for more formal events like weddings and other milestone celebrations. And it’s easy to see why – the building and grounds themselves are beautiful, and the surrounding orchards, oak groves, and open-sky vineyards are postcard-perfect.

  • Artesa – Napa
    Where the first two wineries feel like stepping back in time, the angular design and brutalist architecture at Artesa teases a futuristic experience.

    Stepping out of the white, minimalist tasting room, wine lovers will carry their glasses down the steps of Artesa’s 3-tiered landscape to tour fountains and pools that feature daring, abstract sculptures at their center. The crisp modernism of this winery is complemented by a stunning view of Napa Valley’s ancient hillsides, and sunset over the Pacific ocean.

  • Joseph Phelps – St. Helena
    Giving at once a classical, country feel as well as a modern culinary experience, the Joseph Phelps winery lodge sits tucked into the foot of a forested hill, its initial vineyard creating a carpet which welcomes visitors in.

    Wine lovers will adore the lush interior of the tasting rooms, offering an aesthetic that reads as the most luxurious wine barn, with open rafters, and enormous fermentation barrels making the backdrop of the space.

    Step outside to sip on the lodge’s front porch, and let your eyes wander over the vineyards and into the winding oak-covered hills beyond.

  • Quintessa – Rutherford
    Giving a modern take on classic winery architecture, Quintessa’s tasting rooms utilize glass and warm wood as their main materials to instill visitors with the sense of being out amongst the trees while lounging within the comfortable interior.

    The main pavilion sits atop a hill called Dragon’s Peak, offering a vantage view of the valley below. The winery prioritizes biodynamic cultivation for the grapes, and viewers will notice the vines growing in curved rows around Dragon’s Lake, a gorgeous body of water which is surrounded by a “mosaic” of planting fields, woodlands, and the distant Vaca mountains.

  • Chappellet – St. Helena
    This winery is a little out of the way, but if you’re willing to walk the roads less traveled to get to it, you’re in for a treat.

    From the top of Pritchard Hill, wine lovers can watch the sun setting over the vineyards, sinking between distant mountains that shield the valley from Pacific winds. At the foot of the hill lies Lake Hennessey, stretching away towards the coast in a beautiful crescent. Watered by the lake, the surrounding hills are a lively green in the late winter and early spring – visitors in April and May will also enjoy the winery’s local wildflowers which offer a colorful frame to the scenery.

Thirsty for more?

Of course, if you don’t like the sound of these, there are 394 more Napa Valley wineries to choose from! Or, if you’re still planning your trip, give yourself a little taste of things to come with Napa wines from Old Vine Wine Tours.

Next Steps

Contact Us to Reserve Your Wine Tour Day!

Tasting Room Tuesdays Tour

Tasting Room Tuesdays is Old Vine Wine Tours "book per seat" Tour. This Tour is $125 per person and includes a Boxed Picnic Lunch. Join us on Tasting Room Tuesdays for an affordable Wine Tasting Day!

Group Information and Rendezvous Details

Min. Group Size: 4 Max. Group Size: 14

  • Pick-up: Sonoma Plaza @ 10:30
  • First stop at 11:00 AM
  • Second Stop at 12:30 (picnic spot)
  • Third stop at 2:00 PM
  • Drop-off: Sonoma Plaza @ 3:45


11:00-12:15 Muscardini Cellars

  • Signature Tasting Flight

2 minute drive to - 

12:30-1:45 St. Anne’s Crossing- Picnic

  • Patio Tasting

3 minute drive to - 

2:00-3:15 Seamus

  • Winemaker Tasting

Itinerary Details

Muscardini Cellars

We invite you to visit our tasting room nestled inside a historic red schoolhouse where you can experience traditional Italian-style winemaking at its finest, right in the heart of Sonoma’s Valley of the Moon. Enjoy flights or wine by the glass and charcuterie featuring our wine-infused salumi or even bring your own picnic and taste on our patio or in our beautiful backyard. 

Signature Tasting Flight- $30 pp

Introduce yourself to our signature Italian varietals in this flight and explore our roots. Journey from Sonoma to Mendocino for an approachable tasting that will make you feel completely at home. Guests are welcome to add on a charcuterie platter to enhance their tasting for $32.

St. Anne’s Crossing

St Anne’s Crossing is Sonoma Valley's premiere zinfandel producer, with over 18 zinfandel to choose from plus whites, sparkling, and Bordeaux varietals.

This terroir-driven winery is perfectly situated in the heart of Sonoma Valley.  

Savor the breadth of flavors and nuanced differences between the same grape varieties grown only a few miles apart. Let us educate your palate while pleasing your senses.

Patio Tasting- $25 pp

Seated wine tasting on our patio with beautiful views of vineyards and the Sonoma Mountain range. Enjoy an introduction to St. Anne's Crossing wines with a flight of 4-5 wines.

  • Fee waived with 2-bottle purchase

Séamus Wine Lounge 

Séamus is an Irish name, pronounced “shay mus.” Translated to English, it is “James,” (thus named for the winery principals, James Foley Sr. and Jr.).

We live out our passion for creating superior wines by literally hand selecting hard-to-find vineyards for our grape portfolio based exclusively on quality, terroir, and our winemaker’s needs. In addition, being small producers allows us to buy the best fruit from preeminent California vineyards without impacting their commitments to large customers. Being able to source exactly the fruit we want for each varietal allows us the control we need to provide you with the most select, delicious, luxury wines possible.

Tasting- $18 pp

Come taste wine in a laid back lounge that screams “ Rock & Roll” because we love all things music. Coming to our Tasting Lounge is like visiting your favorite uncle and chatting about your goals & dreams. Now if you want to add in a little wine education, we are here for you and we may get a little nerdy about it too. Ask the winemaker what you have always wanted to know about how wines are made.  

Séamus varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Rosé, Dessert Wine and a Cuvée blend.

Next Steps: Book Your Seat for our Tasting Room Tuesdays Tour

To Book a Seat on our Tasting Room Tuesday Tour just call 707-386-9859 between 9:00 AM and 8:00 PM Pacific Time 7 days a week. Or, send an email to: Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Click Here for More Information about Old Vine Wine Tours

Wineries Offering Active Military Duty Discounts

Winemakers in Sonoma and Napa Valley respect and honor active duty military members by offering discounts on select purchases and tastings. We've put together a list of vineyards - and discounts they provide -  that go above and beyond to serve those who serve us.

Wineries with Military Discounts in Napa Valley

These tables provide information on wineries and restaurants which offer discounts to active duty military members.
Mumm NapaActive Duty Tasting8445 Silverado Trail, Rutherford800-686-6272
Hall RutherfordActive Duty/Spouse56 Auberge Rd, Rutherford W707-967-2626
Peju Province Winery2 for 1 $508466 St. Helena Hwy, Rutherford707-963-3600
Sutter Home Winery 15% Off Purchase277 St. Helena Hwy, St. Helena 800-967-4663
Cakebread CellarsActive Duty + 15% off 3 purchases8300 St. Helena Hwy, Rutherford800-588-0298
Charles Krug Winery1 free tasting per ID holder2800 Main St, Saint Helena707-967-2229
Frogs Leap Winery *2 tastings per reservation
*Children before noon
*Dogs must be trained & on leash
8815 Conn Creek Rd, Rutherford707-963-4704
Beringer VineyardsMilitary, Kid, & Pet Friendly 2000 Main St, Saint Helena707-257-5771
InglenookMust be 12 or older to sit at tasting1991 St. Helena Hwy, Rutherford707-968-1161
V. Sattui Winery50% off tasting NOT purchases1111 White Ln, Saint Helena 707-963-7774
Raymond VineyardsMilitary, Kid, & Pet Friendly 1584 St. Helena Hwy, St. Helena 707-963-3141
Tres Sabores15% off tastings
By reservation only
1620 S Whitehall Ln, St. Helena707-967-8027

Wineries with Military Discounts in Sonoma Valley

Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards10% off flight tasting23555 Hwy 12, Sonoma707-996-7256
Valley of the Moon Winery777 Madrone Rd, Glen Ellen707-939-4510
Buena Vista Winery2 complimentary tastings
10% off all purchases
18000 Old Winery Road, Sonoma800-926-1266
Sebastiani Vineyards4 free tastings
20% off wine purchase
389 4th St E, Sonoma707-933-3230
Conerstone Sonoma23570 Arnold Drive, Sonoma707-933-3010

Lunch Spots

Great deals on grub for service members!
V. Sattui (Deli Foods)Half off 1st tasting
Active Duty Only
1111 White Ln, Saint Helena 707-963-7774
Gotts Roadside (Burgers)10% off purchase8456 St. Helena Hwy, Rutherford707-963-3486
Gotts Roadside (Burgers)10% off purchase56 Auberge Rd, Rutherford W707-224-6900
Oakville Grocery (Deli Food)10% off purchase1111 Dunaweal Ln, Calistoga707-944-8802
Oxbow Public Market
(Food, Wine, Shops)
8445 Silverado Trail, Rutherford707-226-6529
Sonoma Plaza (Restaurants, Shops)

Check out a spotlight on a few of Happy Travelers' favorite destinations!

PEJU PROVINCE WINERY:  Dedicated to making classic wines that reflect the unique character and quality of our estate vineyards, winemaker Sara Fowler strives to understand the opportunities presented by each specific terroir and microclimate. By breaking down each property into individual vineyard blocks Sara’s goal is to harvest when the flavors have reached their peak and the tannins are at their softest.

GLORIA FERRER CAVES & VINEYARDS: Inspired by a centuries-old understanding of the balance between earth and wine, Gloria Ferrer pursues winegrowing with a respect for each vine and for each person in their extended family. Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards implemented the Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices and became certified in 2016.

G.F. has demonstrated commitment to sustainability practices in these areas:

  • Biodiversity
  • Soil health
  • Water management
  • Integrated pest management
  • Energy conservation
  • Green business

SEBASTIANI VINEYARDS: Since Bill Foley’s purchase of Sebastiani in 2008, the winemaking team has taken a number of steps to produce world-class wines that showcase the great terroir and versatility of Sonoma County. One of the first things done under Foley’s direction was to decrease production, allowing for focused winemaking efforts on exceptional vineyard sites. Sebastiani is making more concentrated, complex wines across all tiers – from the Sonoma County Selection to the Proprietor’s Selection. It’s exciting to be at Sebastiani these days.

What's Next?

Book a Tour with Old Vine Wine Tours!