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The 12 Best Wineries in Napa Valley to Visit Now

Sip, sip, hurray! Raise a (tasting) glass and say cheers to these stunning vineyards in California's Sonoma and Napa Valley.

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Grapevines at harvest time in Napa ValleyEmily Kent/Getty Images

Wine time

Rolling hills, majestic chateaus, gorgeous vistas, verdant vineyards. It’s hard to beat the best wineries in Napa and Sonoma Valley when it comes to awe-inspiring scenery in California. And the vineyards listed below don’t just rest on their looks. Each offers delectable wines that you can sample on the premises, along with spots to kick back and enjoy the view, making these destinations an ideal spot for a mini vacation or a weekend getaway, whether it’s a girls’ trip or a romantic escape with your significant other. Most also offer guided tours of the winery and winemaking process and even opportunities for special culinary experiences.

When planning a trip, take into account that although Napa and Sonoma are both located roughly an hour north of San Francisco, and the main towns called “Sonoma” and “Napa” (usually referred to as “downtown”) are located just 14 miles apart from each other, there’s a big mountain in between and the regions themselves are somewhat sprawling. For this reason, it’s best to plan a day of tasting in one region or the other, not both in the same day. For overall aesthetics, Napa is usually associated with a more established tourism industry and more upscale offerings (think Michelin-starred restaurants and busy wine tastings), and Sonoma is often seen as more laid-back (think picnic spots and dirt roads), but both offer stunning scenery and world-class wines.

How we chose the best wineries in Napa and Sonoma

There are hundreds of gorgeous wineries in Napa and Sonoma to choose from, so even the most dedicated oenophile will need to make some choices. To help you narrow down the options, we consulted with experts who spend their careers finding the best wineries. Then we double-checked their suggestions with user reviews and star ratings on TripAdvisor to make sure consumers agreed that these were great spots with equally impressive wines, views, and tastings.

Note that prices for tasting vary greatly—from as low as $20 to as high as $135. On the lower end, you can expect a few small tasting pours. On the higher end of the scale, you’ll most likely have a private guide and tastings, and usually small bites to accompany more generous pours. Before you head to any of the vineyards, check to see if you need a reservation or appointment. Happy sipping!

Far Niente WinerySteve Proehl/Getty Images

Far Niente Winery

Best for: Chardonnay lovers

Far Niente Winery perches at the top of a crest in the heart of Napa Valley’s Oakville, which is surrounded by beautifully cultivated gardens and sprawling vineyards. While the flowering gardens are gorgeous enough for a visit in their own right, it’s what’s happening underground that’s often the most memorable part of a visit (aside from the award-winning chardonnay, that is): a labyrinth of underground historic wine caves that you explore as part of a guided tour. Learn these wine terms before you visit.

Best time of the year to visit: Spring for the blooming gardens; fall for the changing golden ginkgo trees that frame the vineyards

Tasting prices: From $90 per person

Hero wine: 2019 Far Niente Napa Valley Estate Bottled Chardonnay

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Hamel Family Winesvia tripadvisor.com

Hamel Family Wines

Best for: A personalized food and wine experience

Hamel Family Wines sits at the base of the stunning Mayacamas Mountains, and a vineyard visit offers sweeping views across to the Sonoma Mountains and the lush surrounding valley. All tours include tastings of the winery’s well-known Cabernet Sauvignons, but the Reserve Experience is a stand-out option because you’ll be treated to pours and food pairings created just for your group. You’ll start with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc while you take a private tour of the vineyard. Then you’ll head to the modern wine cave for barrel tastings of unreleased Cabs, not usually available to the public. Finally, you (and your lucky companions if you bring them) will have a four-course meal created by a top chef and paired with the Reserve Series Cabernet Sauvignon. If you’re purchasing bottles to bring home, make sure you know how to store wine the right way.

Best time of the year to visit: Fall

Tasting prices: From $75 per person; the Reserve Experience is $150 per person

Hero wine: 2018 Isthmus (a red blend)

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KT Tunstall In Concert At Charles Krug WineryTim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Charles Krug Winery

Best for: Small groups

The oldest winery in the area (circa 1882) is also one of the best wineries in Napa. It houses the longest-running tasting room in California, so it’s safe to say the Mondavi family, who have run Charles Krug since 1943, know a thing or two about wine hospitality. (FYI, Robert Mondavi is a relative, but the wineries are unrelated.) During the pandemic, they opened new outdoor cabanas on the winery’s idyllic picnic grounds ideally suited for socially distanced wine experiences. Even if you don’t book a private space, the grounds here are stunning, and regular tours will also point out the grand spaces, including the carriage house, great lawn, vineyards, Redwood Cellar, and the family’s original homes. A trip here (or to any of these wineries) would make an excellent gift for the wine lover in your life.

Best time of the year to visit: Summer and fall

Tasting prices: Tastings from $45 per person; private cabanas require a minimum $400 food and wine purchase for groups of up to six (but no per-person minimum or fee)

Hero wine: 2017 Family Reserve Generations (a Bordeaux-style blend)

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Palmaz Vineyard Napavia palmazvineyards.com

Palmaz Vineyards

Best for: Cabernet lovers

This stunning winery is located on a 600-acre estate with 64 acres of vineyards all set on mountaintop mesas offering expansive views of Napa Valley. Using modern technology and techniques, Palmaz has created a range of delectable Cabernet Sauvignon wines using biodynamic and organic practices. Another highlight: The winery is built into an 18-story cavern on the flank of Mt. George. As a result, Palmaz is able to utilize not only gravity-flow winemaking but also the natural temperature control of a cave. Private guided tours include a close-up look inside the cave, plus tastings paired with light hors d’oeuvres.

Best time of the year to visit: Spring, summer, and fall

Tasting prices: $135 per person

Hero wine: 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

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Exploring Sonoma Wine Country By AirGeorge Rose/Getty Images

Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens

Best for: Foodies

Step into the Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate & Gardens and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the French countryside. In addition to views of the vineyards, a trip here includes strolling through four acres of sprawling wine estate gardens—where you can, of course, sip some vino while you peruse the greens, herbs, and veggies.

Although this is one of the best wineries in Sonoma for coastal-inspired wines, the focus here is also on matching wine with food. You can opt for curated tastings of the winery’s limited-edition, single-vineyard estate wines, or go for a more culinary-focused food and wine pairing featuring organic, hand-picked produce from the culinary garden. One of the most popular options: the winery’s seasonal farm-to-table private outdoor dinner set under majestic walnut trees and featuring the day’s harvest paired with free-flowing Kendall-Jackson Estate wines. If you’re taking a California road trip, make sure to put this one on your list (and have a designated driver).

Best time of the year to visit: May through October

Tasting prices: Tastings start at $20 per person; farm-to-table dinner from $195 per person

Hero wine: Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay

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La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard

Best for: Pinot Noir fans

Nestled in the heart of the Russian River Valley, the lovely La Crema Estate is framed with flowers and leads to stellar views of Pinot Noir vines in the verdant terraced vineyards. Head to the grand three-story historic barn for tastings of Chardonnay, sparkling Blanc de Blancs, Brut Rosé, and their renowned Pinot Noirs in spaces decorated with rich woods, grand vaulted ceilings, and large picture windows that show off the lush landscape. Order a picnic lunch or a charcuterie board to enjoy outside, where you can sip wine and take in the views from the terraces, patios, or umbrella-shaded tables. If you’re on the West Coast, a visit here makes an excellent fall weekend getaway.

Best time of the year to visit: Fall

Tasting prices: $30 per person

Hero wine: 2016 Saralee’s Vineyard Pinot Noir

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Pine Ridge Vineyardsvia pineridgevineyards.com

Pine Ridge Vineyards

Best for: Outdoor lovers

Located in the heart of the iconic Stags Leap District, this stunning Napa Valley winery is tucked beneath a ridge of pines and boasts an extensive view of the rugged palisades. It’s a popular destination for visitors to the area, having won a TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Award for eight straight years. Guests can explore the sprawling grounds and steep, walled vineyard that winds back from the Silverado Trail via guided hikes from May to July. (Wine lovers would be hard-pressed to find a better hiking trail in the country.)

There are also intimate tours of the wine caves—located 30 feet below ground, stretching nearly one mile, and housing more than 3,000 barrels of wine. And, of course, there are tastings of both reds and whites, including Pine Ridge’s Chenin Blanc and Viognier blend. (Don’t miss the sparkling version of this well-balanced sipper, too!)

Best time of the year to visit: May through July, when hikes are offered

Tasting prices: From $55 per person

Hero wine: Chenin Blanc and Viognier blend

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Ehlers Estate Winery via tripadvisor.com

Ehlers Estate Winery

Best for: Breakfast lovers

They say early birds catch the worm, but early risers at Ehlers Estate will catch the first pours of the day while they watch the mist lift from the vineyard—and that sounds a whole lot better to us. Morning tastings take place at 9:30 a.m., when the vineyard is at its quietest and most serene. You’ll feel like you have the entire valley to yourself as you arrive to find freshly baked croissants awaiting you. Knowledgeable tour guides will then pour five current releases and share stories about the history of the property.

When you’re done with your croissants and wine, explore the winery, which is located in the northern part of Napa Valley’s acclaimed St. Helena appellation, where grapes have been cultivated since the mid–19th century. The vineyard is strictly organic and produces exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Sauvignon Blanc. Before pouring your next glass, find out what the indent at the bottom of a wine bottle is all about.

Best time of the year to visit: Fall

Tasting prices: From $75 per person

Hero wine: 2016 Portrait (a red blend)

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Destination: Napa Valley Wine RegionGeorge Rose/Getty Images

Domaine Carneros

Best for: Sparkling wine fans

If you love champagne, then you’re probably familiar with the Taittinger name. Only bubbles produced in the actual region of Champagne can carry the eponymous name, but for the next best thing, head to this French-style estate and vineyard, founded by the Taittinger family of Reims, France. A grand chateau greets you as you traverse the verdant vineyards, at which point you’ll head to the tasting room to sample a range of Méthode Traditionnelle sparkling wine. Extra bonus: California-created bubbly is often a fraction of the price of its French counterpart, so you’ll actually be saving at this top-rated Napa Valley winery. (Just go with it.)

Best time of the year to visit: Fall

Tasting prices: From $40 per person

Hero wine: Estate Brut Cuvée

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Quintessa Vineyard, Napa Valley, California, North AmericaHoberman Collection/Getty Images

Quintessa Winery

Best for: Sustainable wines

There are few spots in the Napa Valley that can rival the sweeping views of the Rutherford region from the scenic overlook of this winery. The undulating hills of the estate include 100 acres of protected natural woodland and the sparkling water of Dragon Lake. The winery uses organic practices to promote a “balanced ecosystem full of life on the estate,” including using the natural positioning of the hills to send grapes to its cellars, and the wines are produced using organic and biodynamic farming methods. Settle into a private pavilion for views of the estate while you sip Quintessa’s highly coveted jewel-toned reds (their most recent release, the 2018, scored a 99 out of 100 from wine critic James Suckling) and aromatic Illumination Sauvignon Blanc. Order a case of either and you’ll have plenty of eco-friendly gifts to give out to friends and family.

Best time of the year to visit: Fall

Tasting prices: From $95 per person

Hero wine: 2018 Quintessa (estate red)

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Seghesio Family Vineyards

Best for: French-style Zinfandels

Seghesio Family Vineyards takes an old-world approach to winemaking and produces Zinfandels in vineyards that channel the countryside of Burgundy. Located in the charming town of Healdsburg, it offers a few prime spots for sampling: You can sip in Seghesio’s tasting room (called The Grove), or bring a group for an afternoon of Bocce & Bottles, where you’ll get to—you guessed it—play a few rounds of bocce while you imbibe. If you fall in love with this classic backyard game, you may want to buy a set for your own home.

Best time of the year to visit: Fall

Tasting prices: From $25 per person; Bocce & Bottles requires a minimum half bottle per person wine purchase

Hero wine: 2019 Sonoma Zinfandel

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Castello Di Amorosavia tripadvisor.com

Castello di Amorosa

Best for: An Instagrammable moment

We’re not saying the wine isn’t good here—it certainly is, and the Italian-style wines have won many awards, including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition Gold Medal in 2018 and Double Gold in 2019—but when there’s an actual castle to gaze at, it’s sometimes hard to focus on anything else. Designed in the style of a 13th-century Tuscan castle, the majestic 107-room building crafted from 8,000 tons of hand-chiseled stone offers authentic touches right down to the medieval moat and drawbridge and the torture chamber (!) in the basement. Because of the castle’s allure, there are child-friendly tours here as well, making it one of the best wineries in Napa (or maybe the best) to visit with the family. Have your wine puns ready!

Best time of the year to visit: Fall

Tasting prices: From $45 per adult for the wine tasting and tour; $25 for children for the castle tour and nonalcoholic grape juice

Hero wine: Cabernet Sauvignon

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Melissa Klurman
Melissa Klurman is a freelance travel writer and editor with more than 27 years experience who reports on travel trends around the planet for Reader's Digest. Winner of a Lowell Thomas Gold Award for excellence in travel writing, she started her career as an editor at both Frommer’s and Fodor’s travel guides, then went on to write about travel for many publications including Family Traveller, Parents, and Working Mother magazines. More recently she has been a contributing editor at Saveur, Islands, and Caribbean Travel and Life and a senior contributor at Travelocity. A New Jersey native, ice cream addict, and a lifelong Bruce Springsteen fan, Klurman lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with her husband, son, and rescue dog.

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