No wine region in California draws as much attention as Napa Valley. For many who are visiting San Francisco, tasting the wines are a must. There are now over 400 wineries in Napa, from mom and pop types of places to large state of the art facilities. If you have a chance to visit while you're in the Bay Area here are 10 that are open to the public for tasting and be sure to keep your eyes open for these producers in local restaurants and wine shops.
Corison Winery ( 987 St. Helena Winery, Saint Helena, CA)
Cathy Corison is a living legend, revered in San Francisco's professional wine community, by collectors and consumers. Her Napa Valley and Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons are stunning examples of this flagship grape but one of the best-kept secrets is the dry Gewurztraminer she makes from a 30-year-old vineyard in the Anderson Valley. Tasting Room Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily, by appointment, (707) 963-0826.
Chateau Montelena ( 1129 Tubbs Lanes, Calistoga, CA)
Chateau Montelena first captured the world's attention when the 1973 Chardonnay won the Judgment of Paris wine competition in 1976. While the Chardonnay continues to be one of the most age worthy made in California, It is the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon that hogs most of Montelena's press these days. Tasting Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily. www.montelena.com
Freemark Abbey ( 3022 St. Helena Highway North, St. Helena, CA)
Freemark Abbey was one of a handful of wineries to make serious wines in Napa in the late 60s. The Bosche Vineyard and biodynamically farmed Sycamore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons are the stars, with great aging potential. Tasting Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily, (800) 963-9698.
Grgich Hills Estate ( 1829 St. Helena Highway, Rutherford, CA)
Founded in 1977 by Mike Grgich, who made the famed Chateau Montelena Chardonnay that won the Judgment of Paris tasting the previous year, Grgich Hills has a penchant toward cooler microclimate wines that are drinkable young but can also age. While the Chardonnay is the pinnacle of the production, the Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon are among the finest you'll find on Highway 29. Tasting Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. daily. www.grgich.com
Heitz Cellars ( 436 St. Helena Highway, St. Helena, CA)
Heitz's Martha's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most unique, long lived and delicious wines made in California. However, the other wines including an organically grown Sauvignon Blanc and a Grignolino are always worth a few sips. Tasting Hours: 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. daily, (707) 963-3542 .
Joseph Phelps Vineyards ( 200 Taplin Road, St. Helena, CA)
Joseph Phelps underwent a major renovation in 2014, making this already scenic spot even more idyllic. The selection includes Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah but the Cab-based blend, “Insignia,” is Phelp's hallmark. Tasting Hours: By appointment only. Email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Robert Sinskey Wines ( 6320 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA)
Robert Sinskey is a moderately sized producer of wines made from organic and biodynamic grapes in Carneros and the Stags Leap Districts. A range of white and red wines is made, with Pinot Noir being the focus. Tasting Room Hours: 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Reservations needed for parties of six or more, (707) 944-9090 ..
Saintsbury ( 1500 Los Carneros Avenue, Napa, CA)
Saintsbury has been a leading producer of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Carneros since the 1980's. In addition to the Carneros bottlings, they have several single vineyard Pinot Noirs, and an always refreshing rosé. Tasting Hours: By appointment only, (707) 252-0592.
Spottswoode ( 1902 Madrona Avenue, St. Helena, CA)
Spottswoode released its first Cabernet Sauvignon in 1982 and every vintage since has become a collector's item. Today, four wines are made including their famous Sauvignon Blanc, the Lydenhurst Cabernet Sauvignon and the Field Brook Syrah from the Sonoma Coast. Tasting Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., by appointment on ly, (707) 963-0134 .
Storybook Mountain Vineyards ( 3835 Highway 128, Calistoga, CA)
Storybook Mountain makes terrific Zinfandel from the Mayacamas Mountain Range as well as small lots of Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon and a superb red blend, Antaeus. The Zin Gris and Cabernet Rosé are scrumptious summer wines. Tasting Hours: Monday – Saturday by appointment only, (707) 942-5310.