Fall is our favorite time to visit Napa Valley wineries. The air is crisp, the leaves are colorful, the wine is freshly bottled and the buzzy tourist season of crowded wine tours is blessedly over. Whether you take a quick day trip or plant to stay a couple days (try one of the best Napa hotels or Airbnbs) these Napa Valley wineries offer the quintessential Wine Country experience, from the historic Clos du Val to the modern Stag's Leap Wine Cellars. When you're done exploring Napa, feel free to check out the best Sonoma wineries next.
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Best Napa Valley wineries
At this 50-year old famiy-owned winery on Silverado Trail, the cabs are voluptuous, the merlots bold and the sauvignon blancs bright and crisp. In late 2018, Clos du Val opened the Hirondelle House, a stunning tasting space with floor-to-ceiling windows and a massive patio with comfortable seating that overlooks endless acres of vineyard. Tastings range from the $35 Social Circle, to a $65 seated tasting that comes with a cheese and charcuterie board.
Founded by Swiss entrepreneur Donald Hess, this winery on the rugged slopes of Mount Veeder is best known for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, but it’s equally renowned for Hess’ museum-caliber collection of contemporary art, displayed on-site in a 13,000-square-foot gallery. The gallery focuses on living artists, including work from Franz Gertsch, Francis Bacon, Magdelena Abakanowicz, and Leopold Maler.
It’s all about the bubbly at Domaine Carneros. The building, inspired by the Tattinger family’s 18th century home in Champagne, France, features a Instagram-worthy grand staircase, manicured gardens, multiple outdoor terraces, and a fireside salon with views overlooking the vineyards. And while sparkling wine is the estate’s main event, more recently it has expanded its Pinot Noir offerings. Don’t miss the Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs, which you can pair with cheese or caviar for a seriously decadent flight.
Stag’s Leap wines have a serious pedigree, but the tasting experience is friendly and unintimidating. The winery is best known for its Cabernet Sauvignon—its 1973 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon won the 1976 Judgement of Paris and was named one of the Smithsonian's "Objects that Made America." The glass-encased tasting room offers panoramic views of the Stags Leap Palisades, while the wine caves, designed by Spanish architect Javier Barba, feature over 34,000 square feet of tunnels. Request a taste of the famed Cask 23.
Before Frank Rich, the former president of Disney Studios, purchased this estate in 1993, it was known as the Hanns Kornell Champagne Cellars. That operation (which took over a 66-year old winery once owned by Lillie Hitchcock Coit of San Francisco's Coit Tower fame), produced some of the Valley's first sparkling wines. Frank Family continued the champagne tradition, making them the longest producers of sparkling wines in Napa. The property is anchored by a historic 19th century stone winery, a quaint red barn and a butter yellow 1930s Craftsman ranch house where themed tasting rooms and an outdoor patio host visiting guests. Tastings range from $40 to $85, which is served with perfectly paired small bites.
Saintsbury founders Richard Ward and David Graves named their rustic, unpretentious winery after George Saintsbury, the 19th century literary historian and oenophile. Instead of a stuffy tasting room, you’ll find tables set among the winery’s English-style gardens or in the barn-like cellar overlooking the vines. The winery is best known for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Artesa is the work of the Codorníu Raventós family, renowned Spanish winemakers whose roots in the Penedes region near Barcelona date back to 1551. The winery’s name, Artesa, is Catalan for “handcrafted,” a nod to the family’s style of single-estate wines. In particular, Artesa is known for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon, but it also nods to its Spanish roots with a crisp Albariño. The tasting room overlooks the rest of the 350-acre estate; Wine pairings are popular here, whether with chocolate, cheese, or tapas.
Perched on the historic Stanly Ranch, Starmont boasts green production methods: The winery recycles all its process water, diverts 98 percent of its waste from landfills, and uses solar energy. In the summer, the winery throws lively parties, including weekly socials with food trucks and live music. The fire pit-equipped patio is a prime spot to soak up the scene.
Nickel & Nickel is a refreshing counterpoint to the crowded, over-merchandised wineries in Napa, with an intimate feel and a range of single-vineyard wines. Don’t miss the barrel cellar, a cool, 30,000-square-foot space encased in stone and lined with French oak barrels. Similarly, the fermentation barns are built in a traditional style, incorporating hand-joinery and post-and-beam construction.
This historic estate is one of Napa Valley's oldest, with roots dating back to 1861. Helmed by the Mondavi Family since the 1940s, Charles Krug makes a variety of wines—sauvignon blanc to pinot noir—from their 700 acres of vineyards across the county. Tastings take place inside the winery's majestic stone chateau with a view of the redwood barrel aging room. Tastings ($45) and 90-minute tours ($75) are by reservation only.