While in the Napa area, I visited four different wineries where I found that each place had something special to offer. The greatest thing about each of these wineries is that you don't actually have to be a wine drinker to enjoy these tours. I've highlighted what I think is the best part of each winery below and you'll get a good idea of what they offer other than the wine itself.
Views: Artesa winery hands down takes the slot for the best views! As you're driving to Artesa you get the sensation that you're in the middle of nowhere. Artesa is perched on top of a hill in the Napa Valley and has stunning views all around! I visited Artesa with my team from work and it was a great place to go for a group event as there is so much more to do other than sample wine. We were there right before the sun was starting to set so the lighting was perfect and it was so nice to be outside on the terrace! The actual structure of the building was built to blend seamlessly with the surrounding landscape and that it does! We were lucky enough to visit on a clear day so we also got to view the San Francisco skyline. Along with it's incredible views, this winery offers great architecture, beautiful statues, fountains, and a gallery-like experience.
Education: Mumm Napa is the best educational experience I've had at a winery. I took my Mom there as part of her birthday trip as she's not a huge fan of red wines (which the Napa Valley is known for) and Mumm Napa is all about sparkling wines. Their roots can be traced back to the early 1800's in France but the California winery was established in the late 1970's. Because I've been on many winery tours but never a sparkling wine tour, this particular tour was very educational for me. The process to make sparkling wine is similar to regular wine but with a few interesting tweaks of it's own. The most interesting thing I learned is why the United States and other countries call bubbly wine "sparkling wine" and not "champagne." Champagne only refers to bubbly made using traditional methods from grapes grown and vinified in the Champagne region of France. When the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919 to end WWI, the French government included limits on the use of the word champagne. However, you may recall that the U.S. never actually ratified the Treaty of Versailles, and that in 1919 the U.S. was in the midst of Prohibition. Thus, creating a loophole that allowed some sparkling wine producers here to legally call their bubbly "Champagne." As you can imagine, this irritated the winegrowers in Champagne. Out of respect to their roots, Mumm Napa calls their bubbly "Sparkling Wine," even though it's made in the traditional method.
History: Inglenook Vineyard is absolutely beautiful and has a lot of rich history! Even if you aren't keen on trying any wine, I would recommend the tour/tasting experience simply because you get to tour the grounds with a guide. Inglenook began in the late 1800's when Gustave Niebaum, a wine connoisseur and entrepreneur, went to Rutherford, California to build a wine estate. He wanted to build a place that would rival Europe's finest. This vineyard survived prohibition in the early 1900's and was one of five to do so. In 1975 Francis and Eleanor Coppola purchased the property and have spent years restoring the estate. They have also put a film museum within the winery, it's very informative. I learned a lot about the history of the Napa Valley here and it was also the best wine I tasted on the trip.
Royalty: Castello di Amorosa makes you feel like royalty! The architecture of this castle is amazing; it is constructed to look like an authentic 13th-century Tuscan castle owned by some of Italy's elite. Every design chosen by the builders really makes you feel as if you've stepped back in time. My mom and I visited Castello di Amorosa and I can promise you we were walking around with our mouths agape the entire time. They have thought of everything to make this a true castle experience from library rooms filled with older vintages, underground cellars, torture rooms, dungeons, and a courtyard fit for a royal wedding. In fact, while we were on our tour we saw a bride and groom taking pictures on the grounds. I'm sure their wedding photos will turn out just as if they were King and Queen of the Castle! If you are interested in doing a wine tasting here, the wines are fabulous and not overly priced as some places in the Napa Valley can be. I left with five bottles and my Mom left with two; we each have different palettes so there is something here for everyone!
Have you ever visited any of these wineries? What's your favorite thing about the Napa Valley?
A southern girl trying to make my dreams come true. My husband and I love to travel and go on new adventures--We love Jesus and the blessings He provides!