August 26th, 2022
Daytrip - The Best Napa Valley Wineries To Visit
September and October are two of the best months to visit Napa Valley wineries as this is "crush" season - the time when grapes are being picked at peak ripeness and the start of the glorious winemaking process. Located just over an hours drive from San Francisco, Napa Valley is North America's unofficial wine capital and one of the best Bay Area day trips. Here are our picks for some of the best Napa Valley wineries to visit during your Bay Area adventure.
Castello di Amorosa
This is not your typical Napa Valley Winery. Located upvalley, near Calistoga, Castello di Amorosa features an authentic 13th century Tuscan castle built with antique bricks imported from Europe. When you arrive, you'll be transported back in time as you gaze upon the impressive structure which features a moat, drawbridge, towers, courtyards, livestock, and an authentic medieval torture chamber. (so don't misbehave while you're there.) To enter the grounds, you must have a tasting and tour reservation, so plan ahead.
Featuring one of the coolest - albeit VERY different - tasting rooms in Napa Valley, the Red Room at Raymond Vineyards is one of our favorite tasting room experiences. The space is opulent, filled with red velvet and gorgeous chandeliers and the tasting room staff is extremely knowledgeable. You can also create your very own custom blend and take it home with you with their Winemaker for a Day experience.
This family-owned and operated boutique winery is a hidden gem amongst the hundreds of wineries in Napa Valley. Located just north of Napa, O'Brien Estate is all about love. The grounds are gorgeous and the service is top notch. You may even have the opportunity to meet the O'Brien family during your visit. And their signature blend - Seduction - is one of our absolute favorites!
This stately winery located in the Carneros region just southwest of downtown Napa boasts one of Napa Valley's best arrival experiences. The gardens, terraces, and incredibly architecture are second to none in the valley and their wines are equally as stunning. One of our favorite sparkling wine producers in the region.
Famous for putting California wines on the international map after beating the French at the "Judgment of Paris", (watch the movie, Bottle Shock, featuring Alan Rickman and a young Chris Pine to learn more) this Calistoga winery is as beautiful as their wines are famous. And you'll definitely want to try some of their Chardonnay as that's the one that beat the French!
Robert Mondavi Winery
Robert Mondavi was one of the OG winemakers in Napa Valley (the winery was the first to open post-prohibition in the valley) and his winery may be one of the most visited in the world. And for good reason. The grounds are sprawling and lovely and they offer something for everyone. A must-visit for first-timers to Napa Valley.
Del Dotto Estate Winery and Caves
If it's good enough for the Kardashians (yes, it was featured in 2020 on Keeping Up With The Kardashians) then it's probably good enough for us. The caves are the standout and the wine tasting and culinary offerings are top-notch.
This Napa Valley winery in St. Helena is one of the most popular to visit, offering ample outdoor picnic tables to have a nosh while tasting through their incredible selection of wines. We recommend going early if you want to avoid the masses, as the parking lot fills up quickly and you may need to circle a few times to find a space.
Come for the wine caves and the incredible art, and stay while staying through their amazing wine selections. You'll be greeted at the entrance by "Bunny Foo Foo", a whimsical bunny sculpture bounding through their vineyards. So much fun!
Private Transportation Companies
We recommend hiring private transportation so that you can enjoy Napa Valley without worrying about driving back to the city. There are numerous options, but our favorite is Napa Valley Tours & Transportation.
Take the Golden Gate Bridge and US-101 to CA-37 to Highway CA-121 to CA-29N. Depending on the time of day, this scenic drive should take between an hour and twenty minutes and an hour and forty five minutes.
Well actually you can't get to Napa by train, but you can experience the Napa Valley Wine Train for a great lunch or dinner experience daily.
By Hot Air Balloon
OK, you can't get there by balloon either, but we highly recommend a hot air balloon ride over Napa Valley wine country. Our favorite: Balloons Above The Valley.