Napa Wineries Open on Thanksgiving, 2019, some with 2 for 1 deals! Click below to see the top picks and full list of Napa Valley wineries OPEN ON THANKSGIVING.Read More
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How to Find (or avoid) Disneyland Napa
Napa Valley has many personalities but the one that seems to stick these days is that Napa Valley has become “just like Disneyland”. Depending on who is saying it this is either a compiment (“It’s so fun - and there’s wine!!”) or disparagement (“Auggh, the crowds, the cost, the traffic!”). A lot of well meaning guidebooks focus on one or the other, discounting the alternatives, but that’s not right. It depends on what kind of experience you are looking for - a lively party Napa, or a more romantic and quiet one. And both can be had on the same weekend if you know where to look.
Is Sonoma Better? Oh, Stop It!
Right after the Disneyland comparison you will often hear how Napa is spoiled and Sonoma is the place to be. I totally disagree with this. I love Sonoma (check our SonomaTouristGuide.com) but the idea that Napa is somehow spoiled or ruined is just not true. Napa has over 400 wineries and over 300 of them now require reservations. Making reservations is a form of crowd control and unlike Disneyland where limiting the number of visitors at Star Wars Galaxy Edge still means monster crowds, a reservation in Napa means you get your own slot, your own space, your own private or semi-private experience - away from the masses. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Some people will want the Disneyland excitement of Napa, the massive wineries, the mega tasting rooms, and there’s nothing wrong with that! So here are my top picks for the most popular, the most Disneyland-esque wineries in Napa.
The Best Napa Wineries for the Disneyland Experience
If you are coming to Napa for the first time, if you are hanging with friends just looking for a weekend getaway, if you just want to drink wine versus tasting wine to buy, then these wineries will be right up your alley.
CASTELLO DI AMOROSA - THE NAPA CASTLE: This is insane, an actual full size castle built in the same manner as they would have built a castle back in the middle ages. Everything is authentically recreated, right down to the dungeon and hand painted frescoes. The basic tasting experience gets you in through the front doors but the tours will take you deep into the castle, a Game of Thrones sort of experience that can’t help but impress. TIP: Come early as they close the doors once they hit their daily number of visitors.
V. SATTUI WINERY: If the exterior of V. Sattui looks a bit like the Napa castle it’s no surprise - the same person owns both. V. Sattui is the picnic spot in Napa, a full deli inside, an expansive picnic area outside, and always a lively crowd.
DARIOUSH WINERY: A Persian palace exterior, a trendy Las Vegas feel to the interior, Darioush Winery certainly stands out. You expect to see Lara Croft jumping from column to column with a machine gun strapped to her back. You have to see this one, you really do!
DEL DOTTO VINEYARDS AND WINE CAVES: Adventure into the wine caves where you’ve be surrounded by barrels and barrel tastings! With three locations in Napa Valley pick the cave that suits your personality - go rustic in the historic caves handpicked out of the rocky mountainside, or go total Las Vegas in their over the top Italian caves surrounded by marble and intricate tiles. It’s all fun, do all three!
HALL ST HELENA: When I first started visiting Hall Winery it has a tiny tasting bar about the size as the one in my kitchen. That all changed with a remodel that increased the size of the tasting room to what seems like Marriott Ballroom dimensions. And that adds to the lively party feel to this “no reservations required” experience. Head outside to see the vineyards for a breather.
STERLING VINEYARDS: With a tram ride that takes you to the picturesque hilltop winery, you have to do Sterling! What? Tram ride? That’s right, just like the old Skyway ride at Disneyland. But unlike Disneyland where the tram just went back and forth, the Sterling tram takes you to wine tasting and killer views of the valley.
WANT A DISCOUNT ON THE TRAM? Just email me and I’ll send you a totally free promo code for $10 off per person on the tram ride and tasting experience. Free. I mean that.
Want to Avoid the Disneyland Experience? Visit these Napa Wineries!
If you want a quieter Napa experience then get your phone out and make reservations at the following wineries, all of them my personal favorites.
AXR NAPA VALLEY: It’s a bit hard to find, tucked away near Beringer (wait, add Beringer to your Disneyland experience!) but will feel like a totally different world. This is a private tour and tasting where you’ll take a walk into the redwoods with a glass of wine, visit a fairy circle (you will see, it’s cool), and then head in for a tour, maybe a sip from the barrels, and some of Napa’s best wines. 90 minutes, you’ll savor each one.
SWANSON VINEYARDS: You’ll swear you’ve stumbled into the French countryside when you pull into Swanson Vineyards. The outdoor area is just charming with rustic tables next to the vineyards. Inside the Sip Shoppe is perhaps the most enchanting and whimsical tasting room I have ever seen - it was co-designed by the late Kate Spade. Private tastings, very fun and casual, romantic as can be. Sip here all afternoon, you’ll be very happy.
MAXVILLE LAKE WINERY: Don’t let the 15 minute drive off the Silverado Trail sway you from visiting Maxville Lake Winery. It’s one of the most beautiful modern wineries in Napa, one that no one seems to know about. A reservation here usually means you have the entire winery to yourself, including the outdoor area that’s perfect for a picnic with a view of the lake. Tours of the caves, barrel tastings, they are open to whatever sort of experience you want.
KRUPP BROTHERS WINERY: The gates swing open and you drive the narrow road to what appears to be a genuine Italian villa, stone buildings with a view of the vineyards and small lake. It’s a hidden gem, not to be confused with their downtown tasting room. Make reservations here and you will forget all about the castle.
REGUSCI WINERY: A historic stone winery, one of Napa’s oldest, in a romantic setting that looks straight out of the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun”. Come during harvest and you’ll even see them shaking the olive trees in front. Reservations required means the tasting room never gets that crowded and their staff is one of the friendliest in the valley. Highly recommended, and their wines are top rated.
I Wouldn’t Be Local Wally if I Didn’t Tell You About Discounts!
Many of Napa’s wineries offer discounts, including some listed in this article. You can always reach out to me and I’ll help you personally pick wineries, either Disneyland or not, and show you the best deals. Or search yourself on this complete list of Napa deals. You will need a Priority Wine Pass to get the deals but remember you only need ONE for every two people. The pass is $39.99 if you use this link to get it with my discount.
And you can always email me of you have questions! I am one guy doing this with the simple goal of making sure that you have the best time in Napa. I don’t charge for free advice (that’s why it’s free!) so go ahead and ask.
If you haven’t seen the Netflix film Wine Country with Amy Poehler you need to stop what you are doing, open up a big bottle of wine and watch it… Now! OK, spoiler alert, it’s a bit of a chick flick but there are plenty of hilarious moments. “What do you taste? There are no wrong answers…” Tip: Never answer that question.
So now you want to plan out your own weekend getaway to Napa. You want to get silly drunk, roll down hills, maybe even renew some old friendships? Well here’s the reality check - Napa is expensive. Super expensive. Like $50 per person to taste at some wineries expensive! But I can help. Yes, I can definitely help.
GROUP SIZE MATTERS IN WINE TASTING
A group of 4 or less, Napa is all yours. Once you hit 6 you need to think about reservations. And once you go over 8 you should know that some wineries just don’t want you, especially if you’re laughing and giggling and just having a great old time. The trick is to call ahead and make reservations. They might charge you more but at least you know when you arrive that they are expecting you, have a server ready for you, and have space set aside for you. Yes, some wineries are totally cool with large groups coming in unannounced - Castillo di Amorosa, Chandon, Sterling, and a few others. But even if you do get in it means long lines waiting for wine, a major buzzkill. No one wants to wait for wine so make reservations if you have a group over 5 people.
If you are coming with over 8 people just email me and let me help you. I don’t charge for this - I try to help the wineries and in turn they help me and my readers. In the end you get a deal cheaper than you could get yourself. If you are trying to ballpark wine tasting fees for any group over 8 use $40 per person, per winery, as a starting point. It can be less but for planning it’s best to be realistic.
HOTELS ARE EXPENSIVE AND BOOK UP FAST
In the movie they had this great house all to itself. Well, that’s a tall order in Napa. If you want that experience you should expand your search to Sonoma. But if you want Napa then start with hotels. You want a hotel that is close to restaurants. That’s because at the end of the day you don’t want to be driving to eat dinner. This means find a place in either downtown Napa or Yountville. Use this link to start browsing the deals - https://arestravel.com/hotel/list/3035/m211 - If you wanted that private estate in the vineyards email me - I know some wineries who have villas where you can stay. These are not published so just ask.
GET A PRIVATE CHEF EXPERIENCE WITHOUT A PRIVATE CHEF
One of the very cool things in the Netflix movie Wine Country was that they had a private chef. But if you aren’t staying in a farmhouse or just can’t afford your own chef then check out Long Meadow Ranch’s Chef’s Table. I’ve done this - it’s incredible. There’s a private communal table in the winery that seats around 10 people. Next to the table is a kitchen with your own chef who carefully and skillfully prepares a 2 hour dining experience for you, course by course, with wine pairings. It’s totally indulgent and so much fun, especially for a Wine Country getaway. I also have an offer for my readers that adds on a private cave tour if you book the dinner so make sure you email me to get that.
On an even tighter budget? Go to The Bounty Hunter for dinner where there’s great BBQ and a killer Happy Hour and tons - I mean TONS - of wines by the glass. Top notch food and authentic Napa experience.
SPA EXPERIENCE IN NAPA… ON A BUDGET
A Wine Country weekend should mean some relaxing experiences as well and Napa has no shortage of top notch, high end spas. But for those looking for a budget spa experience do something that is uniquely Napa and go soak in a mud bath. Calistoga is home to plenty of options to soak in natural spring waters filled with soothing clay and peat. Couples welcome, even threesomes (um, OK), and it’s a spa experience that you will remember for a long time.
GRAPE STOMPS, CAVE TOURS, HOT AIR BALLOONS, NAPA WINE TRAIN, NAPA HAS IT ALL
If you’re coming in Fall make sure you book a Grape Stomp. Grgich Hills has a good one where you stomp away and take home a wine stained t-shirt. Cave Tours are great during off season when it’s raining outside or on a super hot summer day when you want to get out of the heat. Hot Air Balloons start early so decide if you really want to get up early and do not plan on this after a night of fun wine drinking. And who can resist the Napa Wine Train? With lunch and dinner excursions, an excursion that drops you off at wineries, even a Wine Train and Castle trip, there’s something for everyone and a totally unique experience. And guess what, I have discount tickets so make sure you ask before booking.
OVERWHELMED? JUST EMAIL ME!
A big part of what I do here is help visitors find the Best of Napa on a Budget. All honest advice, no tricks or gimmicks, I’ll help you plan it all out and it’s all free of charge. All I ask is that you tell all of your friends about me and you follow me on instagram! Here’s to a great weekend Wine Country getaway!
Planning a Corporate Event Team Builder? Vacationing in SF and Want to Go Wine Tasting? Live in the Bay Area but Don't Know What to Do? Everything You Need to Know to Visit Napa Valley for a Day!
DID YOU SOMEHOW GET ROPED INTO PLANNING A CORPORATE EVENT IN NAPA FROM SAN FRANCISCO? EASY, PEASY!
If your group is 8 or less you have a lot of options. Most wineries are cool with smaller groups and won't require reservations though it's always a good idea to make them as there's nothing worse than showing up to a winery only to find huge crowds and no place to go.
If you are coming with 10 or more you need to plan this out. There are some big name wineries like Chandon, V Sattui, Castello di Amorosa, who appear to be open to groups without reservations but do a bit of research and you'll find that some, like V Sattui, have restrictions on party size and times they allow groups. Others, like Castello di Amorosa, actually close the doors to groups once they hit their admission limit for the day, sometimes as early as 2:00. And even if you find wineries who tell you to just pop in, this means long lines and no personal servce.
So what to do? Just email me. If you have a corporate group of 10 or more I can hook you up with some wineries who will take very good care of your group - at rates lower than if you called yourself and tried to book it through their group sales department. Need transportation? I can get you discounts on party buses and shuttles, too.
PLAN AHEAD! Remember, Napa books up fast and shuttle buses are scarce so the more time the better. Planning out 4 months in advance is a good idea but if you have to punt and get it done just contact me and I'll get you all the info to pull it off.
ON VACATION IN SAN FRANCISCO AND WANT TO DO A DAY TRIP TO NAPA?
This is super easy. First, figure out your transportation. You can drive over, you can Uber, you can take the Ferry to Vallejo, whatever you decide just get here. Plan to be in Napa around 10:00 to start tasting. Figure you can hit four to five wineries, do dinner, then hightail it back to San Francisco. Give yourself a full day and if you are short on time do Sonoma instead - it's a bit closer.
Where to taste, where to eat, what to do? Just email me. I'll help you get a Wine Pass to save you money and then show you the wineries I recommend for a fast trip to Napa.
BAY AREA LOCAL AND WANT TO VISIT NAPA - ON A BUDGET?
Bay Area locals are so lucky to live so close. Don't be embarrassed if you live so close but not sure what to do. I help people find the best wineries and deals all the time, from newbies to somm's. Step 1 is always the same - Get a Wine Pass! Tasting in Napa is now $25 per person at most places, more at some. The two for one pass pays for itself fast and since you live nearby you can use it again and again since it's good for 12 months. Get the pass - one per couple - and then email me and I'll help you pick your wineries for free. Soon you too will be a Napa expert!
OVERWHELMED? JUST BOOK A PLATYPUS TOUR OF NAPA OR SONOMA FROM SAN FRANCISCO!
If you want to make it real easy whether you are a corporate event or vacationer, just book the Platypus Tour and let them do all the hard work. They have a tour where you take the Ferry to Vallejo and they pick you up. You spend a day on their small shuttles, they serve lunch, you taste wine, they get you back in time, no brainer! To get more info just email my contact there, Jenny Toomer, and tell her Local Wally sent you and she will take good care of you!
LOOKING FOR THE UPDATED LIST OF NAPA, SONOMA, AND RUSSIAN RIVER WINE TASTING COUPON OR DEALS? HERE IT IS, UPDATED JAN 2019.
To get these Napa and Sonoma wine tasting deals just purchase the Priority Wine Pass for $39.99. You only need ONE pass per couple and the savings add up fast!
Blue Note Music Venue & Restaurant (Downtown Napa): Complimentary glass of wine and complimentary dessert *show tickets are required, see Blue Note Napa website for artists, pricing and availability. ($25 value)
Tarla (Downtown Napa next to the Andaz Hotel): Complimentary Appetizer with Priority Wine Pass ($12 Value)
Gustavo Wines (Downtown Napa next to the Oxbow Market):- 2 for 1 tasting flight and 20% off shipping ($18+ SAVINGS) Known for: Red Blends, Cab, Chardonnay, Merlot
Krupp Brothers Tasting Room (Downtown Napa):-Complimentary upgrade from our Signature flight to our Reserve Flight for two ($40 Savings) Known for: Red blends, Cab
Feast It Forward (Downtown Napa next to the Oxbow Market):- 2 for 1 Tasting ($35 Value) Known for: A bit of everything (outside food welcome to bring in to enjoy with your tasting or a bottle purchase)
Learn How To Taste Wine with Victor Orozco (Downtown Napa next to the Oxbow Market): Victor is a level 3 Somm who hosts private morning lessons where you can learn about the ways of tasting and then can go out and use those skills at the wineries during the day. Normally $90pp wine pass members and guests receive the class for $65pp w/reservation: 707-812-9292
Twenty Rows: (Downtown napa) 2 for 1 tasting AND 20% off wine purchaswith reservation ($25 SAVINGS) Cab, Red Blends, Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Zin
Outland Wines (Downtown Napa):-2 complimentary tastings with 4 bottle purchase ($50 SAVINGS) Known for: An array of wines ranging from Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, to Trousseau and Riesling
JaM Cellars (Downtown Napa):- 2 for 1 tasting flight ($20+ SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Sparkling, Red blends…open LATE!
Winetasting on First: (Downtown Napa):- Happy Hour Glasses of Wine All the time & Two Complimentary tasting tastings with the purchase of One Bottle ($15+SAVINGS) Known for: Red Blends, White Blends,Chardonnay, Cab, Pinot, Petite Sirah
Cornerstone Cellars (Village at Vista Collina Resort in Napa):- One Complimentary Tasting per wine pass($30 SAVINGS) Known for:Sauv Blanc, Riesling, Cab, Pinot, Zin, Syrah
Cornerstone Cellars (Downtown Napa):- One Complimentary Tasting per wine pass($30 SAVINGS) Known for:Sauv Blanc, Riesling, Cab, Pinot, Zin, Syrah
Wine Train Gourmet Lunch or Dinner: (Downtown Napa) $25 off tickets pass members and up to 3 guests ($80 Savings) Reservations required please call (707) 253-2111 and mention you are a wine pass member during booking. At check-in please bring ID and wine pass to obtain special pricing.
Castello Di Amorosa Wine Train Tour: (Downtown Napa) $25 off tickets for pass members and up to 3 guests ($80 Savings) Reservations required please call (707) 253-2111 and mention you are a wine pass member during booking. At check-in please bring ID and wine pass to obtain special pricing.
Collective/Estate/Legacy/Famiglia Wine Train Tours: (Downtown Napa) Receive $35 off tickets for pass members and up to 3 guests based on availability ($140 Savings) Reservations required please call (707) 253-2111 and mention you are a wine pass member during booking. At check-in please bring ID and wine pass to obtain special pricing.
Main Napa Area Tasting Deals
Bouchaine (Napa) One Complimentary 1030am Vineyard Tour and Tasting with prior reservation per wine pass (Save $50) Known for: Pinot, Chardonnay, Riesling, Rose
Ceja Vineyards (near Carneros Brewery in Sonoma) 15% off in-person wine purchases ($20SAVINGS) Known for our Pinot, Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Rose, Red Blend, Merlot, Syrah, Cab, and Late Harvest/Dessert Wine.
Bourassa (Napa):-2 for 1 Tastings and Complimentary Wine Educational Experience, and 10% off wine purchases ($40+SAVINGS) Known for: Riesling, Syrah, Cab, Zin, Port, Red Blends
Leaf & Vine Winery (Napa): 50% off tasting and meet the winemaker ($15+SAVINGS) Known for: Zinfandel, Sauv Blanc, CAB, Petite Sirah
Avinodos (Napa):-2 for 1 Tasting and Barrel Tasting and a meet and greet with the winemaker BY APPOINTMENT ONLY($20 SAVINGS) Known for: Sauv Blanc and Malbec
LE (Carneros): 10% off wine purchases Known for: Rose, White blends, Pinot, etc
Ancien (Coombsville): Recieve a tour and tasting for $25pp (for up to 4) with reservations Known for: Pinot and Chardonnay
Judds Hill (Silverado Trail Napa):- 2 for 1 Tasting BY APPOINTMENT ONLY($25 SAVINGS) or Cardholders will enjoy a special rate of $100 per couple (normally $135) for the Judd’s Hill Wine and Food in Balance Seminar. (RESERVATION required) Known for: Pinot, Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabs, Meritage, Blends
Black Stallion (Silverado Trail Napa):- 2 for 1 tastings ($25 SAVINGS) Known for: Cab, Merlot, Syrah, Zin, Pinot, Chardonnay, Viognier, Red blends, Dessert wine
Hagafan (Silverado Trail Napa):- 2 for 1 tastingsBY APPOINTMENT ONLY(except Holidays & Saturdays)($25 SAVINGS) Known for: Riesling, Late Harvest, CAB, Merlot, Tempranillo, Red blends, Sparkling, Sweet wines, pinot
Andretti (Napa): 2 for 1 Tasting and 10% off wine purchases. ($35+SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Late Harvest, Sangiovese, Pinot
Relic Wine Cellars (Off of Silverado Trail Napa): Complimentary Private Tasting for Two with a $300 purchase or $40 tasting fee per person (this winery is allocation only, so members receive access to this winery to purchase their wine when otherwise you would not be able to do so. Known for: Pinot, Petite Sirah, Cab Franc
Patland Cave Experience (Off of Silverado Trail Napa): Receive $50 off a Tour and Tasting for 2 (normally $75pp)…reservations is required email:email@example.com (Save $50) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Rose, Syrah, Zin, Malbec, Cab, Prop Red Blend, and Port
Pine Ridge (Silverado Trail Napa): Reservation Required 50% off tasting for up to 2 people M-Thursday and 10% off wine purchases Fri-Sun (except Saturdays)BY APPOINTMENT ONLY( ($45 SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Late Harvest, Sangiovese, Pinot
Silverado Vineyards (Silverado Trail Napa): 2 for 1 Premier Tasting ($45 SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Sauv Blanc, Cab, Sangiovese, Merlot
Miner (Silverado Trail Napa): 2-for-1 tasting for the walk-in Bar Tastings OR 2 for 1 Group Cave Tasting & Tour Experience with Reservation Monday-Friday email firstname.lastname@example.org Or SATURDAY & SUNDAY: COMPLIMENTARY TASTING with 2 bottle purchase($50 SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Merlot, Sangiovese, Pinot, Cab, Viogner, Rose, and many others
Yountville and Oakville Tasting Deals
Hill Winery (Yountville): 50% off tasting for up to Two People ($25 SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauv Blanc, White Blends, Rose, Cabs, Red blends
V Cellarplace (Yountville): 2 for 1 tasting experience and 15% off wine purchases ($25+ SAVINGS) Known for: A bit of everything!
Travel Food & Wines (Yountville): Complimentary tasting experience per wine pass and with reservation ($25 SAVINGS) Known for: The unique and hard to find wines of Napa Valley (By Appt Only: email: email@example.com)
Jessup Cellars (Yountville): One Complimentary Tasting per pass ($40 SAVINGS) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Cab, Pinot, Zin, Petite Sirah, Merlot, Cab Franc, Port
Girard (Yountville): Save $125 on our Cabernet Experience. Reservations Required. Experience five of our most exclusive appellation Cabernet Sauvignon selections presented side by side and paired with small bites of chocolate,cheese, and charcuterie. Includes three bottles of our Cabernet Sauvignon in a wooden gift box.Please let us know at the time of booking that you are a Priority Wine Pass member. Your experience can be reserved by calling us at 707.921.2795 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cosentino (Yountville): 2 for 1 Tasting (Maximum of 8 guests) ($40 Savings): Known for: Zin, Cab, blends
Napa Wine Cellars (Oakville):-2 for 1 Reserve Tasting for up to 4 guests ($60 Savings): Known for: Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Cab, Zin, Merlot, Pinot, & Syrah
Rutherford and St Helena Tasting Deals
Elizabeth Spencer (Rutherford): Complimentary Upgraded tasting for 2 with purchase of charter tasting (reservations are recommended) ($25 SAVINGS ) Known for: Chardonnay,Riesling, Rose, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Merlot, Cab,Grenache
Rutherford Hill Winery (Rutherford): Complimentary upgrade to a Signature Tasting for 2. Plus, enjoy 10% savings on wine purchases.($30+ SAVINGS ) Known for: Red blends, Cabs, Merlot
Rutherford Ranch Winery (Silverado Trail St. Helena): One Complimentary Tasting per wine pass (BY APPT ONLY) : Enjoy a selection of four to five wines from our portfolio, both red and white wines, rotated seasonally ($40 SAVINGS) Known for: Cab (several only available at the winery), Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Zin and Rhiannon, a proprietary red blend.
Conn Creek Winery (Silverado Trail St. Helena): Complimentary Anthology Saloon Tasting with reservation OR 2 for 1 Walk-in Bar tasting OR $25 off of one Barrel Blending Experience®, up to 4 guests w/reservations ($100 Savings)
Grgich (St. Helena): One Complimentary Tasting per wine pass ($25SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Cab, Zin, and red blends
White Hall Lane (St. Helena): 50% off tasting for 2 people walk-in OR 2 for 1 Reserve Tasting in their Members Lounge with reservation ($50 SAVINGS) Known for: Rose, Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Cab, Merlot, Pinot, Red blends, Dessert Wine
Delectus (St. Helena): 2 for 1 VIP Tasting Experience with reservation ($55 SAVINGS) Known for: Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Sauv Blanc
Prager Port (St. Helena): 10% discount on a purchase of 6 bottles. 20% discount on a purchase of one case. ($20+SAVINGS) Known for: PORT
V.Sattui (St. Helena): Two for One Tastings ($20 SAVINGS): Known for: CABS but they have over 60 varietals and several sweet wines!
Long Meadow Ranch (St.Helena): Receive 2 Complimentary Mayacamas Estate Tours with the purchase of a Chefs Table Dinner ($150 Savings) Email: email@example.com to make reservations and to learn more
Davies Vineyard (St.Helena): Purchase a Sparkling or Pinot Flight and receive a complimentary upgrade to a combination flight by appointment ONLY ($50 savings) OR Bubbles and Caviar brunch…$50off per person (normally $130pp) Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 10 am. OR the basics of wine pairings with cheese $35off per person (normally $95pp) Monday through Saturday at 11 and reservations are required
Known for their Schramsberg Sparking wine and Davies Pinots and Cabs
Beringer Winery (St. Helena): 50% off of the Beringer Old Winery Tasting for up to TWO people ($25 SAVINGS) Known for: Reds, Whites, and Blends
Schweiger Vineyards (St. Helena/Spring Mountain): Complimentary Tasting for Two and Free Shipping with a Case Purchase ($150 Savings) Known for: Chardonnay, Cabs, Port
Trinchero Winery (St. Helena): 2 for 1 Tasting, ($25 SAVINGS) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Merlot, Cab, Petite Verdot, Cab Franc, Meritage
Boeschen Vineyards (St. Helena):Complimentary Tastings and tour of the underground winery, Victorian gardens, and classic car collection for TWO people with 2 Red bottle purchases by appt only. Please phone the winery (707 963-3674) or send an email firstname.lastname@example.org ($150 SAVINGS) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Rose, Petite Verdot, Estate Blends, Cab
Benessere (St. Helena): Complimentary Tour and Extra Pour of their Reserve Wine with reservation: email email@example.com , ($25 SAVINGS) Known for: Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, and other Italian style wines
Maxville Estate Winery (St.Helena near Pope Valley): 2 for 1 Historic Winery Cave Tour and Tasting or 2 for 1 Cave Tour and Cheese and Wine Pairing w/reservations ($85 SAVINGS) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Cab Franc, Cab Sauv, & Petit Sirah
Auburn James (Silverado Trail in St. Helena): 50% off Tasting/Tour for up to 2 people with Reservation, ($40 SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Cab, Pinot, Red Blends
Ladera Vineyards (St. Helena):Receive the private tasting experience ($60 a person) at the price of our outdoor experience ($35 a person). Member and up to 3 guests may take advantage of this offer.Reservation is required ($100 SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Cab, Red Blends, Pinot, Malbec, Sauv Blanc, Rose
AXR Napa Valley at V Madrone Vineyard (St.Helena/Calistoga): 2 Complimentary Tastings with 2 bottle purchase Reservation Required ($100 SAVINGS) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Red blends, Cab
Charles Krug (St. Helena): Complimentary Tasting OR An estate tour and tasting for the price of a reserve tasting with reservation ($65 Savings) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Malbec, Red blends, Cab, Chard
Calistoga/Deer Park/Angwin Tasting Deals
Burgess Cellars (Howell Mountain): One Complimentary Tasting in the cellar experience per wine pass and reservations are required ($30 Savings) Known for: Estate Cabs, Red blends, Merlot, Grenache, Chardonnay, Syrah, Petit Sirah
Teachworth Estate Winery (Calistoga): 2 for 1 Tasting with the owner or winemaker and access to purchase some private reserve cabs from 2011-14. Reservations are required ($50 SAVINGS) Known for: Cab
Pope Valley (Pope Valley): One Complimentary Tasting per wine pass ($30 SAVINGS) Known for: Sparkling, Chenin Blanc, Rose, Sangiovese, Merlot, Malbec, Cab, Port
Madrigal Family Winery (Calistoga): Complimentary Private Tasting for 2 with two bottle purchase….By Appointment Only & Vineyard Lunch with tasting for $85 (normally $100pp)($70 SAVINGS) Known for: Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Gewurztraminer, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc and small lots of single vineyard and estate wines.
Amici Cellars (Calistoga): 15% off on a CASE purchase ($40+ SAVINGS) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Red blends, Cab
Envy Wines(Calistoga): 2 for 1 Tasting before Noon ($20 SAVINGS) Known for: Syrah, Cab, Petite Sirah, Red blends, Rose, Sauv blanc, and Late harvest!
Summers Estate(Calistoga): 2 for 1 Tasting with PRIOR APPOINTMENT ($25 SAVINGS) Known for: CAB, Chardonnay, Charbono, Merlot, Malbec, Red blends, Muscat
Dutch Henry (Silverado Trail Calistoga): 2 FOR 1 WALK-IN Current Release Tasting OR 2 for 1 Collectors Tasting with barrel Sample ($35 SAVINGS) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Rose, Pinot, Red blends, Cab, Cab Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Zin, Petite Sirah
Picayune Cellars (Calistoga): 2 for 1 Tasting or Complimentary upgrade to the Music and Wine Pairing with the purchase of a standard tasting ($25 SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Sauv Blanc, Pinot, and Red Blends
Clos Pegase (Calistoga): 2 for 1 tasting and 20% off wine purchased that day ($25+SAVINGS) Known for: Pinot, Cab, Merlot, Syrah, Red blends, Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Port, Rose
Sterling (Calistoga): 2 for 1 tasting please see special code in welcome email to make online reservations or call and mention you’re a priority wine pass member ($35 SAVINGS) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Cab, Red blends
Brian Arden (Silverado Trail Calistoga): 50% off of the wine flight tastings for up to 2 people 10% off select wines Sorry, no shared tastings. One pass per two people($30 SAVINGS) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Rose, Chardonnay, Cab, Red blends
Bennette Lane Winery (Calistoga): Complimentary Upgrade to a Private Seated Tasting for Priority Wine Pass Holders (valued at $70 per couple) for our Signature Tasting Price of $40! Limited to groups size of 6 or less and by appointment only.
Sonoma Valley and Russian River Tasting Deals
McEvoy Ranch (Petaluma): 2 for 1 bar tasting with reservation ($20 SAVINGS) Known for: Pinot Noir, Syrah, Montepulciano, Grenache, Viognier, and Olive Oil.
Adobe Winery (in Petaluma) 2 for 1 Tasting ($15+ SAVINGS) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Semillon, Viognier, Rose, Pinot, Grenache, Zin, Syrah, CAB
GREEDY Wines (Sebastopol): Complimentary tasting and meet the winemaker ($20+SAVINGS) Known for: CAB & Sauv Blanc BY APPT ONLY
Ekitmo Wines (Sebastopol): 2 for 1 tasting ($10+SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Pinot, Zinfandel,Petite Sirah, Sauv Blanc
LE Estate (Carneros): 10% off wine purchases. Reservations are recommended
Jean Edwards Cellars (Sonoma Plaza): 2 for 1 tasting (Save $20
Larson Family (Sonoma): 10% off wine purchases Known for: Three Lab Cab, Chardonnay, and Pinot
Ceja Vineyards (near Carneros Brewery in Sonoma) 15% off in-person wine purchases Known for: Pinot, Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Rose, Red Blend, Merlot, Syrah, Cab, and Late Harvest/Dessert Wine.
Schug Vineyard (Sonoma): 2 for 1 tasting for TWO ($20+SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Pinot, Late Harvest, Sauv Blanc, Merlot, Cab, Malbec
Viansa (Sonoma): 2 for 1 tasting M-F and 20% off their picnic lunches with reservations any day of the week email: JSandine@vintagewineestates.com ($30+SAVINGS) Known for: A bit of everything
Cline Cellars (Sonoma): 2 for 1 Reserve Tasting and 10% off wine purchases ($15+SAVINGS) Known for: Zin, Mouverde, Chardonnay…and they really have it all.
Jacuzzi Cellars (Sonoma): 2 for 1 Reserve Tasting and 10% off wine purchases ($20+SAVINGS) Known for: Italian style varietals
Canihan Winery (Sonoma): 2 for 1 tasting and meet the winemaker by appointment only ($20+SAVINGS): Pinot, Syrah BY APPT ONLY
Mayo Family Winery (Glen Ellen): 2 for 1 Tastings and 10% off wine purchases ($15+SAVINGS) Known for: Zin, CAB
Kivelstadt Cellars (Glen Ellen): One Complimentary Tasting per pass and 10% off wine purchases ($15+SAVINGS): Red Blends, Pinot, Syrah, Viognier, Sauv Blanc, Rose
Spann Vineyards (Glen Ellen): 2 for 1 Tasting or Complimentary Tasting for Two with a bottle purchase. Special discount on Pizza lunch and wine pairing (reservation required) ($20SAVINGS) Known for: Zin, CAB, Chardonnay, Blends
Deerfield Ranch Winery Caves (Kenwood): One complimentary tasting per pass ($15SAVINGS) Known for: DRX, Meritage Red Blends, Cabs, Malbec, Merlot, Pinot, Sangiovese, Syrah, Zin, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauv Blanc, Rose, White blends
Muscardini Cellars (Kenwood): 2 for 1 Tastings and 10% off wine purchases ($15+SAVINGS) Known for: Single-Vineyard Designate Zinfandels, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Bordeaux-style blend and Late Harvest Zinfandel.
Manzanita Creek: (Kenwood) Complimentary Tasting for Two and 15% off purchases ($30+SAVINGS) Known for: Syrah, Zin, Chardonnay, Petite Sirah, Pinot, Red blends
Ty Caton Vineyard (Kenwood): 2 for 1 Tastings ($15+SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Merlot, Red blends, Syrah, Malbec, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Cab, Dessert Wines
B Wise (Kenwood): 2 for 1 Tastings ($20SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Red Blends, Cabs, Syrah, Rose, Pinot
VJB Vineyards(Kenwood): 2 for 1 Tastings ($15SAVINGS) Known for: Italian Style Wines and they also have a wonderful Deli.
Chateau St. Jean (kenwood): 2 for 1 Tasting ($20 SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, CAB, Merlot, Pinot (they also have a wonderful reserve menu)
Landmark (Kenwood):Tower tasting by appointment. Offer Priority Wine Pass members our wine society price of $30, rather than $40 regular price OR Upgraded seated courtyard tasting by appointment to include a complimentary cheese plate for two. 24 hour notice required. ($15+SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay AND Pinot
St. Francis Winery (Santa Rosa): 2 for 1 Tastings and 10% off wine purchases ($15+SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Zin, Cab, and other reds
Healdsburg, Lake County & Other Sonoma County Wineries - Russian River Area
Trecini (dwntn Santa Rosa): 2 for 1 tasting and 15% off wine purchases ($15+value) Known for: Merlot, Pinot, Zin, Sauv Blanc, Sparkling
St. Francis Winery (Santa Rosa): 2 for 1 Tasting and 10% off wine purchases ($10+value) Known for: Cab, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauv Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Zin
Lost Canyon Winery (Santa Rosa): Complimentary Tasting for Two ($20 value) Known for: Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot
GREEDY Wines (Sebastopol): Complimentary tasting and meet the winemaker ($20+value) Known for: CAB & Sauv Blanc BY APPT ONLY
Ekitmo Wines (Sebastopol): 2 for 1 tasting ($10+value) Known for: Chardonnay, Pinot, Zinfandel,Petite Sirah, Sauv Blanc
Balletto Vineyards (Santa Rosa): ,4 Complimentary Tastings ($40 SAVINGS) Known for: Reds, whites, and red blends
Wine Guerilla (Forestville): Complimentary Tasting for 2 and 10% off wine purchases Known for: Zin
Landmark (Forestville): Upgraded seated courtyard tasting by appointment to include a complimentary cheese plate for two. 24 hour notice required. ($15+SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay AND Pinot
K Squared Cellars (Windsor): 2 for 1 tasting ($15 value) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Pinot, Merlot, Zin, Rose
Trione Vineyards & Winery (Geyserville): 2 for 1 tasting and 10% off case purchases ($30+ Savings) Known for: Chardonnay, Pinot, Syrah, Zin, Sauv Blanc, Primitivo
Cast Wines (Geyserville): 2 for 1 tasting ($25 Savings) Known for: Chardonnay, Pinot, Zin, Sauv Blanc, Sparkling Wine, Cab
Meeker Vineyard (Geyserville):2 Complimentary Tastings ($30+ Savings) Known for: Dry, age-worthy, bold reds, and unusual white, rosé, and dessert wines
VML (Healdsburg): 2 for 1 tasting ($15+value) Known for: Chardonnay, Pinot, Sauv Blanc, Sparkling, Zin, Red blend, Syrah, Dessert wines/sweet wines
ACORN Winery/Alegría Vineyards (Healdsburg): 2 for 1 PRIVATE sit down tasting with owner or winemaker with reservation and 10% off bottle purchases ($30 Value) Known for: Cab, Cab Franc, Sangiovese, Red blends, Syrah, Zin,Petite Sirah
West Wines (Healdsburg): 2 for 1 tasting ($30 Value) Known for Cab, Viognier, Chardonnay, Sauv Blanc
Portalupi (Healdsburg Square): Complimentary 3 pour tasting for TWO with bottle purchase ($20 value) Known for: Red blends, Sauv Blanc
Blanchard Family Winery (Healdsburg Square): 2 Complimentary Tastings BY APPT ONLY and 15% off wine purchases ($20+value) Known for: Red blends, Whites
Spicy Vines (Healdsburg Square): 2 for 1 and 10% off wine purchases Known For: Zinf, Syrah, Petit Sirah, Chardonnay, Rose
Hudson Street Wineries (Healdsburg): Complimentary Tasting and 15% off wine purchases ($10+value) Known for: Chardonnay, Zin, Cab, Syrah, Sauv Blanc, Rose, Petite Sirah, Pinot
Hart’s Desire Wines (Healdsburg): 15% off wine purchases, 20% off case purchases, and complimentary tasting with purchase Known for: Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Grenache, Sangiovese Rose, Pinot, Tempranillo, Zin, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Claret, Late Harvest, and Muscat
White Oak Winery (Healdsburg): Complimentary Tasting, 10% wine purchase, ($25+value) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah, Zin, Cab, Pinot, Red blends
Alexander Valley Vineyards (Healdsburg): 2 for 1 Reserve Tasting ($20 value) Known for: Chardonnay, Merlot, , Zin, Cab, Red blends, Gewertz
Sapphire Hill (Healdsburg): 15% discount on wine purchases, 20% discount on all case purchases & complimentary tasting with bottle purchase ($10+ value) Known for: Sparkling, Moscato, Gewertz.
G&C Lurton Vineyard (Healdsburg): 2 Complimentary tastings and 10% off wine purchases & private estate tour available by appointment ($20+ value) Known for:Bordeaux style wines, cab, merlot, cab franc, sb
Viszlay Vineyards (Healdsburg): 2 for 1 Tastings with Advance Reservations ($15 value) Known for: Rose, Chardonnay, Pinot, Red Blends, Zin, Petite Sirah, and a Prosecco
Merriam Vineyards: (Healdsburg) 2 for 1 Tasting ($15+value) Known for: Cabs, Pinots, Red blends, Petite Verdot, Merlot, Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, and Late Harvest wines
Rued Winery: (Healdsburg) 2 for 1 tasting Known for: Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot, Zin, and Cab
*(voucher req’d)Kendall Jackson: (Healdsburg) Two for One tasting ($15+value) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Meritage, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muscat, Pinot, Merlot, Cab, Syrah, Zin, Red blend
Manzanita Creek: (Healdsburg) Complimentary Tasting ($15+value) Known for: Syrah, Zin, Chardonnay, Petite Sirah, Pinot, Red blends
Rodney Strong: (Healdsburg) 2 for 1 on our Estate tasting in our tasting room. 15% off Wine Flights and Wine & Food Pairings on our Terrace when available. 15% off Winter Food & Wine Pairings. 15% off wine purchases. (Some wines may not be discounted). ($25+value)
*(voucher req’d)Ferrari-Carano Vineyards: 2 for 1 Classic Tasting ($5value) Known for: Chardonnay, Fume Blanc, Sauv Blanc, Pinot, Merlot, Sangiovese, Zin, Cab, Red blends
Albertina Cellars (Hopland): Complimentary Tasting & Tour. Owner and winemaker will be offering a 1-2hour tour of the vineyard. Known for: CAB, Merlot Reservations Required. BY APPT ONLY
Chacewater: (Lake County) Complimentary Tasting ($10+value) Known for: Chardonnay, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Merlot
Six Sigma: (Lake County) 2 for 1 Tasting ($10+value) Known for: Rose, Sauv Blanc, Pinot, Tempranillo, Cab,
Sky Pine Vineyards & Bobdog Wine: (Cloverdale) Complimentary Tasting ($10+value)Known for: Cab, Malbec, Meritage, Merlot, Port, Rose, Zin, Dessert Wines BY APPT ONLY
Fritz Winery: (Cloverdale) 2 for 1 Reserve Tasting ($15 value) Known for: Rose, Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Red blends, Zin, Pinot
Don't assume that your favorite winery will be open in Napa on the Fourth of July! Always call first and if you have the Priority Wine Pass here is a quick list of the wineries who have verified they will be open for business this 4th of July. Remember, use your Priority Wine Pass to get discounts such as two for one tastings at these and other wineries. If you don't have a pass buy it here and get ONE per couple only to save easily a hundred dollars a day on tastings.
Anderson Conn Creek
Leaf and Vine
Long Meadow Ranch
Pope Valley Vineyard
Whitehall (open until 3:30)
Free Wine Tasting at Mumm Napa, Domaine Chandon, Robert Mondavi, Castello di Amorosa (and $19.99 Ray Bans!)
Everyone wants a deal in Napa. After all, wine tasting in Napa has gotten super expensive with some wineries now charging $50 per person to taste... at the bar! So I totally get why people get so excited when the see FREE COUPONS for big names like Mumm, Chandon, Mondavi, and Castello di Amorosa, the Napa castle. There was a time when these wineries actually had deals but I haven't seen them in a long time. That's right, save yourself some time and stop searching for winery discounts at these wineries. And if you find a deal that's too good to be true, well, do you really think the $19.99 Ray Ban ads on Facebook are real? (spoiler: Not real!)
HOW ABOUT SOME FREE NAPA WINE TASTING?
As for sites offering inside knowledge on FREE NAPA WINE TASTING!!!!! - Last month there were two, this month only one - Sutter Home . These guys invented the terribly popular (and some suggest just terrible) White Zinfandel. Still, free is free so there you go! That's it. You can find cheap or free tastings if you head up on the Sonoma side towards the Russian River but that's an entirely different beast.
WHERE DID ALL THE NAPA WINERY DEALS GO?
When I started Napa Tourist Guide over 10 years ago there were coupons everywhere. My goal was to collect them all in one place so you didn't have to search. Now that the coupons are all but gone you can still get deals but you have to pay. Napa is filled with passports, phone apps, and other "pay to play" offers. I did my research and keeping with the original guiding principles of my site to offer honest, advertiser free advice, I went with just one - the Priority Wine Pass.
I met the gal who owns and runs the wine pass company and she is not only sweet but legit. Dinner at her house usually involves Napa winemakers or others in the industry. The Priority Wine Pass has the usual suspects such as Grgich Hills, Beringer, Krug, etc - but also offers deals at Napa's hidden gems, the boutiques who most visitors pass by on their way to the castle or tram ride. And while I too enjoy the intensity of a busy winery bustling with crowds I like to temper that with quieter, more private experiences. The Priority Wine Pass does a good job in balancing it out, giving my readers options, and that's why I partnered with her to help guide my readers to the best deals in Napa.
And to make sure you get your money's worth, if you buy a Priority Wine Pass and email me I will build you out a custom stop by stop agenda based on your wine preferences and my experience of which wineries I think you will love. You want big names, you got it. You want quieter tastings away from the crowds, I can do that too. And I also offer advice on which wineries are worth paying full price - and which ones are not!
A BIG FAVOR?
Since I started this site my competition for readers has grown immensely but my marketing budget is the same - zero. If you like what I do please share it on your social media and tell your friends. And if you decide to buy a Priority Wine Pass use my link to get my discount - you get a good deal and I get a few bucks that helps keep the site running. You only need ONE pass for every two people to get two for one's and deep discounts - go to 2 wineries and you more than break even.
Thanks and Enjoy Your Time in Napa!
Local Wally, 2018
New Napa Valley Wine Train Discounts for 2017!
Priority Wine Pass members now get the following discounts on the popular Napa Valley Wine Train! At $39.99 per couple it's always been a good bargain but now that you can get huge savings on the Napa Wine Train there's no reason not to get it. Get my discount when you use this link to order and remember, only get ONE pass per couple!
Wine Train Gourmet Lunch or Dinner: (Downtown Napa) $20 off tickets pass members and up to 3 guests ($80 Savings) Reservations required please call (707) 253-2111 and mention you are a wine pass member during booking. At check-in please bring ID and wine pass to obtain special pricing.
Castello Di Amerosa Wine Train Tour: (Downtown Napa) $20 off tickets for pass members and up to 3 guests ($80 Savings) Reservations required please call (707) 253-2111 and mention you are a wine pass member during booking. At check-in please bring ID and wine pass to obtain special pricing.
Collective Tour on the Wine Train-St. Supery, Beringer, & Raymond: (Downtown Napa) $35 off tickets for pass members and up to 3 guests ($140 Savings) Reservations required please call (707) 253-2111 and mention you are a wine pass member during booking. At check-in please bring ID and wine pass to obtain special pricing.
There is nothing worse than being in your hotel room ready to snuggle up with a good bottle of wine only to find out that there's no corkscrew. How to open? Well, you could do the Shoe Trick where you put the bottom of the bottle inside a shoe and slam it on the wall, but that just doesn't seem to to have style. Or you could jam the cork and it's crumbles into the bottle. Or you could be smart and pack a corkscrew in your bag.
But remember, there is only ONE type of corkscrew that always passes TSA security and it’s this one. The rules were modified to include corkscrews with tiny collapsible blades (like the ones waiters use) but pity the fool who has to explain that to a TSA agent who did not get the memo! Don’t take any chances of losing a good corkscrew. Grab one of these cheapies and you are good to go.
Note that there is no little knife to cut the foil - it's the little knife that will have you waiting as the TSA folks tear your bags apart and send you to secondary strip search. But this little handy corkscrew, arguably equally dangerous in the wrong hands, passes through TSA with flying colors. At least for now!
How to Taste in Napa Without Going Broke
Napa wine tasting prices are getting insane - $25 per person is the new budget price with most wineries charging $30 to $50 to taste - at the bar! Fight back with the Priority Wine Pass, the two for one pass that cuts your fees right in half. Ride the Sterling Tram and taste for half off (save $35), taste at Charles Krug (save $40) or Beringer (save $25). Or ask me for my favorites and I’ll show you the hidden gems on the Wine Pass, all incredible and all two for one. Get One Pass only per couple - the pass is $39.99 but you’ll save many times over that.
Napa Valley's BEST Winery Experience: Conn Creek Barrel Blending
Every trip to Napa should have at least one BIG adventure, the winery experience that caps off your wine tasting vacation. Take the Sterling Tram? Tour the castle at Castello di Amorosa? Visit the caves of Del Dotto? Yes, all good options but for me the BEST Napa experience is the Conn Creek Winery Barrel Blending Experience. And yes, I have a discount but that comes later.
What I love about Conn Creek's Barrel Blending Experience is that how it makes you define what you like in your wine. I mean, I drink a lot of wine and I know what I like but if you asked me to describe it I get all befuddled. Umm, tar? Leather? Plums? Yikes, my cover as a self proclaimed wine expert is shattered.
But not anymore. That's because I went to the Conn Creek Barrel Blending Experience, a 90 minute "class" where you taste 6 different cabs grown in different areas of Napa. Like a good student I took a few notes and honed in on what I liked and what I didn't like in each, which was a good thing because before I knew it I was taking my little eyedropper and mixing up a glass like I was some sort of scientist. And then after some tweaking I was kneeling in front of the barrels and carefully measuring out quantities of each to make up my own blend. I call it Local Wally Reserve Cab. It's limited - very limited!
Conn Creek's blending seminar is super cool, a quick way to get a wine education that's valuable to everyone from newbie wine lovers trying to understand what they like to industry insiders who want to further their knowledge. And it's fun - no stuffy classroom setting - and afterwards you go straight to the tasting bar to try all of their wines. You like wine, you'll love this experience.
30 Days Later......
After waiting a month I invited my wine blending group over for a blind tasting. Will our wines hold up? Will we still love them? And who made the best? We wrapped the wines in foil to hide the labels and surrounded ourselves with wine glasses and sipped like the experts we had become. Surprisingly, all four bottles tasted very different from each other.
My wine started off as big, bold and nearly over the top but as it sat open and we tasted more I noticed that the LW Reserve was the one we all gravitated to., Well, at least that's how I remembered it. In truth I think all of us could defend our wine blends to the end, just like real wine makers. The winner - the one we all secretly thought was our own - started off soft and drinkable and remained complex without going over the top. It wasn't mine. Damn!
The tasting party continued as the rib eyes were tossed on the grill and our wines were so good that all four bottles were gone by the end of the night :-)
Local wally recommended
Everyone needs to do this. I mean, everyone! It's fun, it's educational, and the wine tasting competition a month later lets you bring home the Napa experience for your friends and family. And won't everyone be so impressed when you say things like how you wanted a bit more boldness so you added a drop of Petite Verdot and how the Cab Franc really sends the aroma over the top. Oh you wine expert you.
TIP: Save your cards with your measurements on it because if you LOVE your wine you can have Conn Creek make you up a custom case. Now that's cool!
Discounts for Conn Creek Blending Experience
Get a $50 discount with a Priority Wine Pass. Get your pass here, it's $39.99 per couple so the card already more than paid for itself. And remember, get the pass and I'll build you a stop by stop agenda to make sure you get your money's worth. OK, sure, it's still $100 per person after the discount but figure you get to take home a bottle of Napa wine that you made - most Napa wines are at least $60 - $75 per bottle these days - and you got to taste at the bar (normally $25 per person) - and you got a wine education that you just can't get anywhere else - so a hundred bucks is really a bargain. Highly recommended for my readers, skip the tram ride and the crowds at the touristy wineries and do the Conn Creek Blending Experience!