Local Wally's BEST Napa Valley Wineries on Highway 29 | FREE Coupons | Napa Tourist Guide
Let Local Wally show you Napa Valley's BEST wineries on Highway 29 including FREE wine tasting. Free wine tasting discount coupons, no catch! From Mondavi to Beringer to Castillo di Amorosa, every winery reviewed here is a winner. Best picnic spots, best tours, free tastings, the Best of Napa! Free Sterling Winery Discount.
Napa's Best Wineries Along Highway 29
Big Names, Iconic Wineries, Must See Napa Valley Wineries
There are basically two main winery arteries in Napa Valley, Highway 29 and the Silverado Trail. Highway 29 is the main road and home to the big names. You know these guys, Robert Mondavi, Beringer, Beaulieu, Charles Krug, Cakebread, Sterling, Inglenook, the list goes on and on.
On Napa's Highway 29 you'll find everything from small boutique wineries to Castillo di Amorosa, the amazing full scale Napa castle. It's easy to get overwhelmed with the choices but don't over complicate it. First timers who can't decide should stick to Napa's Highway 29 wineries, do a tour, have a picnic. Figure you can do about 5 wineries in a day.
Of course, if you're still unsure where to go just shoot me an email and I'll be happy to put together a cool agenda for you that mixes the big names with the 2 for 1 wineries... for free!
Do the Big Name Wineries in Napa Offer Discounts?
Don't waste your time trying to find coupons for Mondavi or Domaine Chandon or many of the other big Napa wineries. If you find other sites claiming to have them they are most likely teaser deals, a way to get you to sign in so they can resell your information. Every coupon and every deal in Napa is on my Napa on a Budget page. That's where you'll find discounts for Castillo di Amorosa (the Napa castle) as well as Sterling, Beringer, and other big names, all legit and up to date. If a big name winery has an offer, I have it. Get a Wine Pass - just $39.99 for my readers.
Hidden Gem - Surrounded by Redwoods, Beautiful - Wine Pass Discount
There was a time when some of the big name wineries you know today - Alpha Omega, Frank Family, Hall Wines - were all just tiny tasting wineries known only to a select few. They all popped big time and now have giant tasting rooms and crowds. AXR makes wines in the same class but is undiscovered which means you can do a private tour of the winery, take a walk through the redwoods while sipping a glass of wine, and sit down one on one with one of the friendliest and knowledgeable staffs in Napa. Do this one - it won't be long before they start popping up on everyone's "best of Napa" lists. And they have a great offer with the Priority Wine Pass - email me for more info.
Beringer Vineyards Napa
Iconic - Stunning Architecture - Historic Winery
The first winery to offer public tours in Napa, their history dates back to 1875 when 2 German immigrants bought 215 acres and crushed their first grapes. Soon they planted the "Tunnel of Trees" that's still on Highway 29, built the elegant Rhine House where they lived, added the impressive stone winery building, and hired the Chinese to dig the wine caves. These guys were busy!
Today there are plenty of tasting options - basic tastings in the old winery room, more deluxe tastings in the Rhine House, even tastings in their caves and food and wine paring experiences. A worthy first timer's stop.
Castello di Amorosa (The Napa Castle)
Must See - Family Friendly - Tour a Full Scale Castle - Wine Pass Discount
You're probably wondering if Castello di Amorosa, aka the Napa Castle, is a real castle... or a cheesy Las Vegas fake. Let me assure you, it's incredible. With 107 rooms and 121,000 square feet, it looks more like something out of The Lord of the Rings than a Napa winery. Taking 13 years to build using only Old World construction techniques, the attention to detail will have your head spinning (careful, wine!). Everything is authentic, from the hand forged iron to the hand painted floor to ceiling frescoes. Walk in's taste with the paupers but take a tour to really see the castle, from torture chamber to tasting room and to avoid the often huge crowds.
Domaine Chandon Napa
Beautiful Setting - Sparkling Wine - Great Place to Start Your Day
With limited time in Napa most people want to start their day early. The only problem is that to most people a big bold glass of Cabernet is the last thing you want right after breakfast.
That's why I like to start my day in Napa at Domaine Chandon, makers of sparkling wine (aka champagne). The grounds are stunning, from the beautiful pond to the lush landscaping. Taste inside the modern tasting room with views of the rolling hills or go outside to the terrace. Plenty of tasting options, from flights to tours to bottle service. Domaine Chandon Napa get insanely crowded in the afternoons but calm and peaceful in the mornings, making it the perfect first stop.
Robert Mondavi Winery
Great Value $25 Intro Tour and Tasting - Family Friendly
A quick bit of history - the Mon-day-vi (that's right) family wine owned Charles Krug, Napa's first winery, but a fight with the two brothers in the mid-'60's resulted in Robert opening up his own winery. Along the way he changed the pronunciation of his last name to Mon-dah-vi, and arguably changed the course of Napa by making fine wines that were among some of the best in the world. If all you have tasted is supermarket Woodbridge then you're in for a treat.
First timers should upgrade tastings to the basic tour, a $25 "best value" tour (no reservations required) that takes you through the vineyards and production areas.
Alpha Omega Winery Napa
Fantastic Outdoor Tasting Area - Open Late - Picnic Area - Superb Wines
I started visiting Alpha Omega Winery when they were still in the construction phase. But even with the jackhammers and power tools I knew that Alpha Omega was destined for greatness. The wines are consistently awesome, from sophisticated whites to big, bold and complex reds. The contemporary tasting room is friendly and inviting but the real attraction is the patio outside with the view of the impressive water fountains. Simply put, this is the spot to be at the end of the day. Picnic area is reserved for wine club members so forget about bringing in your own lunch.
Historic Napa Winery
The story goes that Georges de Latour bought this winery for his wife in 1900 who exclaims “Quel beau lieu!” ("beautiful place") thus giving it their name. But soon a vine killing disease takes over Napa Valley that nearly wipes out the industry. Wife no longer happy. Georges not either.
Georges solves the problem by traveling to France and bringing back millions of resistant root stock, thus saving the day and the California wine industry - good job! The tasting room is open and modern and the location next to popular Rutherford Grill means there is no excuse not to pop in for a taste or tour.
Grgich Hills Estate Winery
Beats French Wine Any Day - Small and Intimate Tasting Rooms
If you've seen the movie Bottle Shock then you might remember the 1976 blind tasting of Napa versus the French. It was the chardonnay made by Mike Grgich, then at Chateau Montelena, that beat the pants off theFrench and put Napa on the map. Mike soon after set off on his own and opened Grgich Hills, producing 6 of Napa's finest wines.
What I like about Grgich Hills is that the original tasting room hasn't changed a bit since my first visit in the 70's. As other wineries have expanded into casino super sized facilities Grgich remains small, intimate, friendly. During harvest you can even stomp grapes with your tasting fee.
Inglenook Winery Napa (Coppola)
Iconic - Historic Old Winery - Family Friendly
The story of Inglenook could make a great Hollywood movie. One of Napa's first wineries and arguably the first to make really great wines, the story turned tragic when they sold out to a huge corporation who turned them into a jug wine producer. But like any good story there's the happy ending when filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola buys the winery and returns it to its former glory. And yes, the wines are good, very, very good.
One of Napa's most beautiful wineries, every visitor should stop in to tour the grounds and estate. Simply stunning architecture, it's easy to spend the entire afternoon here.
Peju Province Winery Napa
Fun Winery - Alan Anopole Sings and Raps About Wine
This guy is crazy. I'm talking about Alan, the wine server who sings and raps about wines - yes, raps. It's one of the most fun wineries in Napa when Alan is pouring, part educational and part comedy.
Wine tasting is done in groups. No pushing to the counter, you wait around the gift shop area until it's your turn. Anyone who has been to Napa on a busy weekend will appreciate this. Those who want to talk about terrior and have serious conversations about serious wines might not appreciate Peju but if you're a person who likes good wine and, more importantly, is on vacation and looking for a fun experience, you'll not be disappointed.
Schramsberg Winery Napa
Taste Inside the Caves - Top Rated Tour
Back in the 60's a young couple looking for a simpler life bought a deserted winery. Thinking Napa was already saturated with wineries - there were 22 at the time - they decided to make sparkling wine in the French tradition. Soon thereafter, none other than President Nixon (Tricky Dick) used their wine to toast, putting Schramsberg on the map and making it the wine of choice for every president thereafter. Hey, that Dick is alright!
As for visiting Schramsberg, their tour is one of the best, taking you deep into the caves that open up to a candlelit tasting area, looking like the final scene in The Phantom of the Opera. Highly recommended.
Tram to the Top - Family Friendly - Wine Pass Discount
You're looking out the window with the same excitement as a kid the first time at Disneyland. "The tram, the tram!" you shout with glee as you approach Sterling Vineyards. That's right, Sterling features a tram ride to the tasting room on top of the mountain with breathtaking views of the valley. At the top there's a self guided tour and then it's off to the tasting room or patio for table service tastings. OK, sure, the wines might be average by Napa standards but the view, oh my what a view!
Family friendly, here's a winery you can take your kid to and not feel guilty. Wine Pass members should email me to get a free discount coupon, either $5 off or an upgraded tasting.
Cakebread Cellars is a solid pick for those wanting a bit more education with their wine tasting. Small tasting groups are led through the production facility and given a mini-tour. Intimate, not stuffy or intimidating, and terrific reds and whites.
Hall St. Helena
The old intimate tasting room at Hall Wines has been replaced with a giant modern one with patios and plenty of space. Walk-in's taste with the crowds but upgrade to the tour and taste in a private seated area. Fun setting, great for large groups.
Napa's oldest winery built in 1872, Charles Krug Winery has been newly restored into a beautifully modern tasting room that blends the old with the new. Plenty of Napa history here along with a terrific picnic area. Lovely setting, a great stop on Highway 29.
Nickel & Nickel
"High End" tasting experience, tour the Victorian house and the original fermentation barn then head inside for a seated wine tasting experience. Nickel & Nickel produces single vineyard wines, the perfect stop for the "serious" wine lover.
It's popular, it's busy, and it's touristy, but the onsite deli and open picnic grounds makes it a top pick on a nice day. No outside food permitted, group friendly. Get a two for one tasting with a Priority Wine Pass - buy one per couple.
Priority Wine Pass
Looking for Two for One tastings in Napa? The easiest way to get free wine is with the Priority Wine Pass. No phone app required, no tricks or gimmicks, just wine deals at over 75 Napa and Sonoma wineries. Good for full year, don't come to Napa without it.