When most people think wine country, the first thing that comes to mind is Napa Valley. Located North of San Francisco, Napa is home to some of California’s best wineries. With miles of vineyards everywhere you look, it’s hard to escape wine country without indulging in a few bottles of wine. Rolling hills, spas, boutique hotels, farmer’s markets, and eclectic antique stores surround Napa. But it wouldn’t be a rightful visit without tasting some local wineries first!
Schramberg Estate (1400 Schramsberg Road, Calistoga, CA 94515)
Visiting this next winery is like experiencing a piece of Napa history. Nestled away in the hills of Diamond Mountain, the Schramsberg estate is known to be the first hillside winery of the Napa Valley. Founded in 1862, this winery in home to 218 acres and is a registered historical landmark. The wide spread acres are made up of the Victorian house, the winery, a barn and even include caves. Schramsberg’s history goes beyond its old grounds and family ties. After the Blanc de Blancs was used for President Nixon’s 1972 “Toast to Peace”, the Schramsberg sparkling wines have been used at official State functions by every U.S. Presidential administration since. Open daily from 10am-4:30pm. Reservations recommended for tours through the caves.
Terra Valentine Winery (3787 Spring Mountain Rd, St. Helena, CA 94574; (707) 967-8340)
Situated mountain side with breathtaking views is Terra Valentine Winery. This winery gives off a castle-like feel due to its cellar and is right out of a storybook with its stone and vine covered exterior. Terra Valentine stretches its old world charm between two Spring Mountain estates. This location is what gives flavor to rich soil types and diverse ripening patterns. Here you can find a number of whites and reds, including: Sauvignon Blanc, Estate Riesling, Rose, Late Harvest Riesling, Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Cabernet. If planning a visit, you can simply come enjoy the tasting room, or schedule a winery and estate tour.
Schweiger Vineyards (4015 Spring Mtn. Rd, St. Helena, CA 94574; (707) 963-4882)
Also located on Spring Mountain is Schweiger Vineyards. The Schweiger family purchased 60 acres of land back in 1961. Throughout the 70s, they began clearing the land for what would become their family owned and operated vineyard. The Schweiger vineyard prides themselves on pioneering sustainable farming and maintains that tradition still today. The primary varietals continue to be Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, but they also farm micro-blocks of Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot, and Petite Sirah. Tasting options include the “dedication” Tasting ($20) or a full Vineyard Estate Tour & Tasting ($35). The vineyard is open 10-4 daily by appointment.
Of course, if you are tasting wine all day, you will need to eat. Here are two places we love:
Bistro Jeanty (6510 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599)
There are a number of quaint bistros and cafes to please the senses and Bistro Jeanty is a favorite to many (and myself). This bistro is the perfect place to wind down and enjoy dinner after a day of wine tasting. Bistro Jeanty is an award winning, French cuisine, neighborhood bistro. If their wine list doesn’t get you, then the dessert menu definitely will. They are also known for their world-famous cream of tomato soup – it really is out of this world.
La Condesa (1320 Main St, St Helena, CA; (707) 967-8111)
Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, La Condesa is a feast for the eyes. If you like lots of flavor and Mexican inspired dishes this is a great place to try an old favorite. Although items at La Condesa seem traditional, many of them come with out of the box options. For example, try their salsa and guacamole starter that comes in four different flavors. Additionally, they provide a delicious dessert menu that will have you wanting seconds. If not the flourless chocolate cake, than maybe a scoop of ice cream of their menu with a dozen flavors.