If you’re looking for the full overview of all the wineries and tastings we experienced during our recent trip to Napa, you can find that here. It was a whirlwind of a trip (and a luxury experience, at that), but after 15 different tastings, we definitely had our favorites.
These are my personal recommendations. Be sure to let us know if you’ve been to any of these vineyards or their tasting rooms!
Overall Best Inclusive Experience
This was such an eye-opening experience for me. The tasting was held in an intimate, private space directly overlooking the production room for Hess wines. Our host, Sandy, was fantastic at explaining the different sub-appellations within Napa.
The specific tasting we signed up for, the Cabernet Appellation tasting, featured a side-by-side comparison of 4 wines produced in the same year, but from different regions, all using the same wine making process. The 5th wine we tried was a blend of the 4.
I’d recommend this tasting to anyone who has a desire to learn more about the wine-growing regions within Napa. Go with friends who appreciate that too!
Bonuses: the property is absolutely stunning; it’s located minutes away from a historic monastery that is absolutely worth a drive by; the owner’s personal art collection is on display at the property.
Ari’s Favorite Wines
The wines we tried during our tasting at Keplinger were my absolute favorite. Exquisite, terroir-driven Rhone-style wines that are my personal idea of heaven.
There’s no vineyard to tour, as the owner and winemaker, Helen Keplinger, along with her husband, DJ, source grapes from a variety of hand-selected vineyards in Napa, Sonoma, and Sierra Foothills. What she does with them is pure magic.
The tasting room is located in downtown Napa, where you’ll be guided through a hand selected flight of wines. Each is more beautiful than the last. Come with questions, as the host is incredibly friendly, knowledgeable, and wants you to walk away with an understanding and appreciation for what wine can be when it’s treated with this much love and passion.
We happily joined the wine club and can’t wait to see (and taste) the wines from year to year.
If you want a stunning view of the valley from up on a mountain, go to Amizetta.
While the view at Ovid was also breathtaking, the value for what you get at Amizetta makes this preferable in almost every way. At Amizetta, we truly enjoyed most of the wines we tasted, whereas at Ovid, we enjoyed every wine we tasted.
You’re wondering why I’m not recommending the place with the overall best view and wines, aren’t you? The difference in price is 3x.
A private tasting at Amizetta will cost you $100/pp, while a private tasting at Ovid will cost $300/pp. That is not insignificant. If you are a true collector of wines and consider yourself a connoisseur, perhaps go to Ovid instead. But for the average wine drinker, the better value is Amizetta, hands down.
Most Unique Tasting
If you’re looking for something a little different and off the beaten path, my recommendation is Spire. A totally unique tasting experience in an unbelievably beautiful setting.
Approaching the Spire tasting room is a little eyebrow raising. Located in the northernmost tip of Calistoga with a view of where the mountains from both sides begin to converge is a private house (which we hilariously almost walked into…) and a separate smaller building with a million dollar view. See above.
What makes Spire so unique is its representation of wineries worldwide. From Europe to Africa to South America, the Spire portfolio is broad, to say the least.
After trying 5 completely different wines and gauging our reactions, our knowledgeable host shared a few additional reserve wines that he thought we might enjoy (based on our likes and dislikes). Before wrapping up, we did a blind tasting where we were blown away by perhaps the best Merlot any of us had ever tried. Overall, an amazing tasting experience.
Wildcard — Ari’s Pick!
This one is my wildcard! (And it’s actually in Sonoma, not Napa.)
If Keplinger had my favorite overall wines of the trip, Scribe was a close second place. I loved everything we tried here, including the phenomenal garden snacks. This place is an absolute treasure.
We didn’t have a tour of the vineyards or grounds (in fact, I’m not even sure that’s an option), but what you’ll find here is incredible wine, excellent farm fresh food, and gracious, welcoming staff.
Additionally, I loved that we were given such a wide assortment of wine to taste. From rosé and white wine, to a white-pressed Pinot Noir (new to me!) and some of the most delicious traditional Pinot Noirs we’ve ever had, it was an overall 10.
Unfortunately, you must be a member of the SVS (Scribe Viticultural Society) to enjoy a tasting here, but on Thursdays they allow non-members in if you work in the industry. We thought the value here was incredible and happily signed up to for the SVS.