Unique Winery Experiences in Napa
Oh, how I enjoy Napa. Just like there is a wine for each palate, so is there a winery for each personality. Last year, I got to check out some pretty incredible wineries, but going back this time around made me realize I didn’t even begin to cover the tip of it all. And truly, it would take a lot more than just a long weekend to check out the over 450 wineries in the region, all of them so different from each other and many with incredible stories to tell.
The following are some of the wineries, each with something unique to offer guests. Note, all listed tasting fees are as of date of this publication and are subject to change. Please check the vineyards websites for more information and reservations. This visit was hosted by our friends at the Wine Sisterhood during their 2013 Gathering.
The Wine Sisterhood Gathering kicked-off at this fabulous winery, owned by the Boisset Family Estates, ne of the world’s leading family owned wine companies. They have wineries in Burgundy, Beaujolais, the Rhone Valley, the South of France, and expertise in French sparkling wines. Mr. Jean-Charles Boisset serves as president and was a lovely host, sharing his family’s history and his growing vision for the winery with us.
Dressed in true roaring 20s fashion, we gathered in the Red Room, an area exclusive only to wine club members. It is an a sight to behold, with its red velvet sofas, curtains, and walls, lit with ornate Baccarat crystal chandeliers.
There are several event spaces at Raymond Vineyards to cater to whatever the crowd, mood, or occasion. Whether it be the Barrel Room, the Gold Room (which I absolutely LOVED), the Blending room (where guests can be wine makers for a day), or the Crystal Cellar, which is the main event space, visitors are treated to a one-of-a-kind experience. As far as wines, Raymond Vineyards mainly produces Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, all of which I truly enjoyed. Tastings start at $20 per person. Wine maker for the day is $100 per person.
Located in the beautiful slopes of Pritchard Hill the Chappellet Family has been producing some of the most celebrated wines here since 1967. We met and toured with second generation members of the family along the breath-taking winery, with views of Lake Hennessey.
This award-winning estate produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Chenin Blanc. Visitors can schedule vineyard tours and tastings, as well as seated tastings in the barrel room in the fabulous main building inspired by Molly Chappellet’s love for pyramids and Frank Lloyd Wright. Tastings start at $25 per person.
The best way to start a tour of Quintessa is by going up to the top of the slope and take in the views of the pond and vineyard. Starting your tasting right there will immediately connect you with the estates’ ideologies and commitment to the land and the wines they produce. Located on 280 acres, only 165 acres are allotted for planting, leaving the rest of the property in its natural oak woodland state.
The commitment to producing “healthy wines” starts in how Quintessa honors and works with the land and its surrounding nature. This has resulted in multiple accolades and awards, and through the various events and tours hosted at the estate, community members and visitors can personally enjoy the Quintessa experience. Tastings is $65 per person.
Julio Palmaz, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, found success in his medical career which led him to the Inventors Hall of Fame as the inventor of the Palmaz Coronary Stent. But his love for wine and dream for creating his own brought him, his wife, and their three children to Napa Valley, where every member of the family is currently involved in various aspects of running this refurbished and redesigned, state of the art winery.
We met with Florencia Palmaz, the first-born of the Palmazes’ children, and an avid foodie (and food professional) and wine connoisseur. What I most enjoyed about this vineyard was in seeing how Mr. Palmaz’s love for technology and science has been passed down to his children, and how they all have been able to incorporate it to help maintain the perfect balances in the process of wine production, without altering the natural elements that affect what we taste and how experience the wine itself. It’s truly a remarkable process, and though I can’t say I understood all of it, I was quite fascinated by it all.
Touring the property is also a lot of fun, and experiencing a tasting in one of the caves was a highlight. Tastings and tours are between $60 to $80 per person.
The Chateau at Carneros is the landmark centerpiece of this beautiful landscape. When I visited, it was beautiful, clear day and the views of the vineyards and all the surrounding greenery was stunning from the outdoor terrace.
Our group met with CEO and Founding Winemaker Eileen Crane, who also oversees and directs wine making and operational duties. She is an inspiration to female wine makers everywhere and a leader in the industry – meeting her was a true honor.
Domaine Carneros was established in 1987 by Champagne Taittinger, along with partner Kobrand Corporation on this 138 acres located for the sole purpose of producing sparkling wines. This is the same year Claude Taittinger selected Eileen Crane to oversee the planning and development of the property, as the winery’s first and only winemaker.
In the beginning the focus was to produce just sparkling wines, such as their Brut Vintage and luxury cuvée Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs. But in 1992, the production of Pinot Noir was added and is a must try when visiting the vineyard. Visitors can also enjoy table service and tastings, and a small shop on site is available for purchases and delivery of your favorites bottles. Daily tasting tours start at $30 per person.
For more wineries to visit while in Napa, CA check out my Napa Winery Guide for The Clueless Wine Lover.
Disclosure: I was a guest of the Wine Sisterhood Gathering 2013 and their sponsors during my visit to Napa, CA. I received no requirements or requests to review any particular experience. All the opinions expressed here are my own.