The Wine Country

Wineries, Restaurants, Where to Stay
(Full day required for Wineries Alone.)

No doubt you have heard of the terrible fires that raced through the Wine Country and communities north of San Francisco. Amazingly, a few wineries had fire damage, but every winery on our list survived. (Maybe that means we should be updating the list!). So we have added some new wineries in green, meaning we’ve haven’t tried them but they show up on many lists of “best wineries”. If anyone tells you “all the wineries and the grapevines burned up” that is completely untrue, so don’t cancel your tour to the Wine Country. It is still one of the greatest things you can experience in this area. Some of the wine tasting rooms have shut down because people think they’re not open (or gone), but it’s just that people have stopped coming. Don’t make that mistake!

We include phone numbers, so you can call first to be sure they’re open. In order to be time conscious, be SELECTIVE. You might want to start the previous evening at the London Wine Bar or Vino Venue (above in Saloon/Wine Bar list) and ask for a 1 oz. taste of the wineries in that area. While most of our world-class wineries are in Napa, we’ve added a list at the end of excellent wineries that are not in Napa. If there’s some particular winery you want to visit, you can google it or just email Steve at

If you want to be truly safe, have a non-drinker drive.

You can rent a limo and driver (Bauer’s Transportation 415-522-1212). $800 for six people and a full day. The driver knows the way, and you won’t get asked to walk a straight line. Of course,you might bribe a local to drive you for a lot less. Or, if you have an under-21 licensed family member, s/he is your driver!

How to Get There: Leave the city by way of the Golden Gate Bridge (101 North) to Highway 37 East. It’s about 20 miles from the bridge to the 37 turnoff. Take 37 to 121 North (about 7 miles). The wineries start on 121. Eventually, 121 hits Highway 29 North (in about 16 miles). Turn left (North) on 29. Most wineries are near 29 or on Silverado Trail, which parallels 29 further East.

Choosing Where to Stop: There are over 700 wineries in Napa Valley alone so RESIST MOST WINERIES YOU SEE. The best is yet to come. We’ve listed some of our favorite wineries below. You can’t possible visit every winery in one day, not even the ones on our short list, so BE SELECTIVE. If you are a truly serious wire drinker or collector, you might make this a multi-day excursion. We’ve mentioned a few hotels and motels you might use as a base in our Guided Tour below.

Most tastings are free, unless you taste the good stuff. So pay and taste the good stuff! Life is too short for bad wine. Don’t sample what you don’t like. Below is a list of what we would see going up Highway 121 heading to Highway 29 and then down Silverado Trail (a big circle) in the order they’ll appear.

How Much Should You Drink? Just because they pour you a generous glass doesn’t mean you have to drink it. You can share a taste with a friend or spouse. Some of these tastes may cost you $5 or more, so it may be cost-effective to share. And, if you are the driver, we recommend that you use the spittoons. Yes, spitting is nasty, but it will allow you to taste the wine without taking in the alcohol. Any wine you buy better be sealed and unopened and in the trunk, just in case you are stopped. An open bottle of anything alcoholic is an instant citation, or worse!

As You Begin:

Turn onto Highway 121 from Highway 37. You will pass Viansa Winery. DO NOT STOP THERE. THIS WINE IS A WASTE OF YOUR TIME. Just continue on 121 until you see the Chateau on the left side of the road. This is the Domaine Carneros Winery (Tattinger Partners) 1240 Duhig Road (707-257-0101). If you’re a Fan of the Bubbly, stop and have a glass on your way into Napa. Sit out on the terrace for one of the most breathtaking views of the Napa Valley.

RMS (Remy Martin) 1250 Cutting Wharf Road. This is not exactly wine, it’s distilled wine… brandy and cognac. Just a short drive from the Chateau (above) on your right – not well marked, but worth the effort. Do take the tour, as the “Angel’s Share” is unbelievable. No tasting here, but very memorable.

Return to 121. Turn right and head towards Hwy 29. Turning left onto Highway 29…

Domaine Chandon 1 California Drive (707-944-2280) Just off Hwy. 29 in Yountville. It’s tricky as you take the exit to the Veteran’s Home going left under the freeway and voila Domaine Chandon is on the right. Wonderful Champagne vintner. Another of Deb’s favorites. You pay to taste – but keep the glass.

If you intend to stay in Napa overnight, we recommend El Bonita Motel 195 Main St Napa (Hwy. 29) 707-963-3214. This old style motor inn has been restored and refurbished. Quaint, if a bit smallish rooms, include a microwave, fridge, coffee maker, TV, and even wine glasses. Also a wonderful pool and spa. Reasonable rates and very clean. Located right on Hwy. 29 so very convenient. If you’re over 50, it will take you back to the way things were before freeways.

Silver Oak 1915 Oakville Crossroad 707-944-880. Turn right on Oakville Crossroad. Continue through the vineyards until you see their sign on the right. World-class red wines made in (amazing) California oak barrels. One of Steve’s favorites. Again, you pay to taste, but a beautiful Reidel (pronounced REE-DULL) glass goes with you. Go back out Oakville Rd. turn right back to 29.

Niebaum-Coppola – Estate, Vineyard and Winery 1991 St. Helena Hwy (Hwy. 29) 707-968- 1100. The wines of film director Frances Ford Coppola are wonderful and the Chateau (formerly Inglenook Winery) is breathtaking. There is an excellent self-guided tour of the Chateau and the artifacts are worth seeing. Be sure to go to the second floor. And don’t forget the wine. There is a fee for tasting, but you keep the glass.

Beaulieu Vineyards 1960 St. Helena Hwy. 29 (707-963-2411) on the right, just past Rutherford. Go to BV’s separate tasting room and try the “George de La Tour Private Reserve”. Wow! You pay to taste, but you taste 5 wines and two may share the tasting. Worth every penny.

Rutherford Grill is at the Beaulieu Vineyards. Terrific Food.

Grgich Hills 1829 St. Helena Hwy 29 (707-963-2784) This winery is a Van Der Burgt Family Favorite! (Chardonnay and other varietals) 1/4 mile beyond Beaulieu on the left.

Tra Vigne Restaurant (Charter Oak Ave. at Hwy. 29, St. Helena 707-963-4444) The perfect lunch. Beth Van Der Burgt says it serves the best tiramisu she has ever had.

Gott’s Roadside (933 Main St. [Hwy. 29], St. Helena 707-963-3486). If you think Tra Vigne above is just one more fancy restaurant (with fancy prices), try this one instead. Formerly called Taylor’s Automatic Refresher, it’s open every day from 10:30AM to 8:30PM, it serves legendary burgers, fries, and shakes, and a lot more. This ‘dive’ was spruced up after it appeared on the Food Channel, and its burgers came in #2 in the nation in Bon Appetite Magazine. So be prepared to wait. The only burger stand with a Wine Bar !! There’s now a branch in San Francisco as well (see the restaurant guide up front)..

Maybe you’d like to spread this whirlwind tour out, especially if this is a romantic getaway. Next time we stay here, we’re going to try Sunny Acres Bed & Breakfast (1397 Main St. St Helena 707-963-2826 This 1859 Victorian has no phone, radio or CD player in the three available rooms. (But they do have wi-fi!). It sits right in the middle of a 26- acre vineyard across the road from Tra Vigne (above). You need a stepstool to get into bed. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Chateau Montelena 1429 Tubbs Lane 707-942-5105 (Chardonnay, Cabernet) Pass Calistoga, right on Tubbs Lane, pass Bennett Lane, entrance on left. Chateau Montelena has a lake and islands for a stroll. World Class, if you drink the good stuff. Buy a “library tasting” for $40 and share it. (Regular $20 tasting is almost as good.) This is one red wine that Steve actually collects. In 1976, their Chardonnay beat the French in a ‘blind’ tasting. Go rent the movie “Bottle Shock”.

Continue East on Tubbs Lane and cross over to Silverado Trail, turn right, heading South.

On the Silverado Trail. Stop at:

Sterling 1111 Dunaweal Lane 707-942-3344 (Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay) turn right on Dunaweal Lane. Sterling has their winery on top of a hill. You take a tram ride to get there. What a view!

Duckhorn 3027 Silverado Trail 707-963-7108 (Merlot) right on Lodi Lane. Perhaps the greatest Merlot. Hey, if you saw the movie “Sideways”, this would have changed his view on Merlot!

Rutherford Hill 200 Rutherford Road 707-963-1871 (Merlot). Left on Rutherford Hill Rd. IF YOU ONLY TAKE ONE WINE CELLAR TOUR THIS IS THE ONE. Tour Times: 11:30, 1:30 and 3:30 daily.

Stag’s Leap Cellars 5766 Silverado Trail 707-944.2020. Continue down Silverado and it’s on the left. This winery, along with Chateau Montelena above, started the whole craze in 1976 when their Cabernet beat the French in a ‘blind’ tasting. A perfect “last stop” winery.

The French Laundry. (6640 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599, 707-944-2380). This restaurant is often listed as one of the best in the USA and always in the Top 5 of California, three Michelin stars. You have to call two months in advance to get a reservation. Dinner takes 3 to 4 hours, so don’t be in a hurry. Price is an astronomic $400 per person. Many call it “the best restaurant in the world”.

Here’s an alphabetical list of a few other excellent wineries, out of the 700 in the Napa Valley. With a good map or GPS you could find them all.

Acacia Winery2750 Los Amigos Rd.
Napa CA 94559
(707) 226-9991
Excellent chardonnay.
Burgess Cellars1108 Deer Park Road
St. Helena CA 94574
(800) 752-9463
Wonderful Cabernet.
Cakebread Cellars8300 St. Helena Highway
Rutherford CA
(707) 963-1616
Worth the appointment! The “Cain Five” is especially wonderful.
Cain3800 Langtry Road
St. Helena CA
(707) 963-1616
(by appointment only)
Worth the appointment! The “Cain Five” is especially wonderful.
Carneros Creek Winery1285 Dealy Ln.
Napa CA 94559
Chimney Rock5350 Silverado Trail
Napa CA
(800) 257-2641
Corison KronosHwy 29 betw Rutherford/St. HelenaNapa
Dalla Valle
Diamond CreekOakvilleSteve collects this. Only open one weekend each year. Call for details.
Domain Carneros1240 Duhig Road
Napa CA 94559
(707) 257-0101
Etude1250 Cuttings Wharf Rd
Napa CA 94559
(707) 257-5300.
(by appointment)
Folie a Deux7481 St. Helena Highway
Oakville CA 94562
They started the winery in their back yard. Famous now for their “Menage a Trois” blend.
Flora Springs Winery677 S. St. Helena Highway
St. Helena CA 94574
Remember the TV Series “Falcon Crest”? It was shot here. We actually knew (the late) Flora!
Franciscan Vineyards1178 Galleron Rd.
St. Helena CA 94574
Hahn EstateNapa??
HdV588 Trancas St.
Napa CA 94558
Kelly Fleming WinesLet me know their address
Calistoga CA 94515-9998
(707) 942 -6849
MayacamasMt. Veeder Rd.
Napa CA
(707) 224-4030
Steve’s late uncle was offered an “investment opportunity” in 1967 and stupidly said no.
Merryvale Vineyards1000 Main Street
St. Helena CA 94574
(707) 963 7777
Wonderful chardonnay and cabernet.
Robert Craig Cellars880 Vallejo St.
Napa CA 94559
(707) 252-2250
Tues-Sat, appointment only. $5/glass
Rudd Vineyard500 Oakville Crossroad
Oakville, CA 94562
(707) 944-8577
Saintsbury1500 Los Carneros Ave.
Napa CA 94559
(707) 252-0592
If you’re a Pinot Noir fan, this is a must-see.
Schramsberg1400 Schramsberg Rd.,
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-4558
Another excellent champagne.
Sequoia Grove8338 St. Helena Highway
Napa CA 94558
(800) 851-7841
Another excellent Cabernet.
Silenus5225 Solano Ave at Darmus Lane
Napa CA
(707) 299-3930
Silverado Vineyards6121 Silverado Trail
Napa CA 94558
(707) 257-1770
Switchback RidgeNapa
Truchard3234 Old Sonoma Rd
Napa CA 94559-9701
(707) 253-7153
Robert Sinskey6320 Silverado Trail
Napa CA
(800) 869-2030
Whitehall LaneWinery1563 St. Helena Hwy
St. Helena CA 94574
(800) 963-9454
William Hill Winery1761 Atlas Peak Road
Napa CA
(707) 224.5424

Wineries Outside Napa: While Napa/Sonoma is our key wine-growing area, there are some excellent newer wineries east, west, north or south of Napa/Sonoma such as Bonny Doon (one of Steve’s favorites). See the list of recommended wineries around Napa, and then south, below. Simply put the address in your GPS. Just be sure to check how far it is before you start up. Some might take most of a day to get there and back. Winery roads are often windy mountain roads. But the more windy the road, the better the wine! Might want to call first to make sure of the hours they’re open. Some may require a reservation.

More Wine from Surrounding Areas around Napa : (some very far north!)

There’s a bed & breakfast in Sonoma we’re going to try. It’s called Bungalows 313 (313 First St. E., Sonoma CA 707-996-8091). Prices vary considerably depending on time of year. Call first. Dogs are allowed for an additional $25. That’s what caught Debra’s eye! We’ve also heard good things about the Wine Country Inn (1152 Lodi Lane., St. Helena 707-963-7077)

Balletto Vineyards 5700 Occidental Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401 Tel: (707) 568-2455

Benessere Vineyards 1010 Big Tree Road, St. Helena, CA 94574 707-963-5853

Bensziger, Sonoma

Burford and Brown by appointment (707) 321-6942, address?

Charles Krug 2800 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574 (707) 967-2200. Famous for champagne.

Chasseur by appointment Sebastopol, CA 95473 (707) 829-1941, address?

Esterlina 1200 Holmes Ranch Rd, Philo & 435 West Dry Creek Rd, Healdsburg (707) 895-2920

Geyser Peak Alexander Valley

Handley Cellars 3151 Hwy. 128 Philo, CA 95466 (707) 895-3876

Iron Horse 9786 Ross station Road, Sebastopol, CA 95472 (707) 887-1507

KendricVineyards 36 Monterey Ave., San Anselmo, CA 94960 (415) 456-6942

Korbel 13250 River Rd, Guerneville, CA 95446 (707) 824-7000

Landmark 101 Adobe Canyon Road, Kenwood (707) 833-0053

MacPhail Ferrington Vineyard 851 Magnolia Drive, Healdsburg CA 95448 (707) 433-4780

Naughty Boy Vineyards 10,000 Gibson Lane, Potter Valley, CA 95469 (707) 743-2868

Navarro Vineyards 5601 Hwy 128, Philo, CA 95466 (707) 895-3686

Papapieto Perry Winery 4791 Dry Creek Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448 (707) 433-0422

Roederer Estate 4501 Highway 128 Philo, CA 95466 (707) 895-2288. Our favorite champagne.

Rutz Cellars 1410 3rd Street San Rafael, CA 94901 (415) 482-6565

Taft Street 2030 Barlow Lane, Sebastopol CA 95472 (707) 823-2049

Vision Cellars, Windsor, CA 95492 (707) 887-1619, address?

Williams Selyem 7227 Westside Road, Healdsburg CA 95448 (707) 433-6425

Wine South of San Francisco (Santa Cruz, Carmel, Monterey)

And don’t think we’ve tried these all – we haven’t – so send us your rating of what’s “hot” and what’s not.

Au Bon Climat 1672 Mission Drive Solvang, CA 93463 (805) 688-7111 This is very far south. Almost half-way to LA. Wonderful chardonnay.

Bargetto 700-G Cannery Row, Monterey CA 831-373-4053. Actual winery is in Soquel

Bernardus 5 W. Carmel Valley Rd. Carmel Valley CA 831-659-1000

Boekenoogen 24 W. Carmel Valley Rd., Carmel Valley CA 831-659-4215

Bonny Doon Vineyard Cellar Door, 328 Ingalls St. Santa Cruz CA. “Cigar Volant” is one of Steve’s all-time favorites. Rhone-style blend from California!!

Calera Wine Company 11300 Cienega Rd, Hollister, California 95023 (831) 637-9170

Carmel Hills 12 Del Fino Pl. (Lyonshead Gallery) Carmel Valley CA 831-659-0750

Chateau Julien 8940 Carmel Valley Rd., Carmel CA 831-624-2600

Cima Collina San Carlos St. (between Ocean & 7th Ave. in Paseo Courtyard), Carmel CA 831-620-0645

Edna Valley 2585 Biddle Ranch Rd, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 (805) 544-5855 Wonderful chardonnay

Galante Dolores St. (between Ocean and 7th Ave) Carmel CA 800-425-2683

Hahn 37700 Foothill Rd., Soledad CA 831-678-4555

Heller 69 W. Carmel Valley Rd., Carmel Valley CA 800-625-8466

Marilyn Remark 645 River Rd., Salinas CA 831-455-9310

Morgan 204 Crossroads Blvd, Carmel CA 93923 (831) 626-3700 Wonderful chardonnay

Otter Cove 315 Calle Principal, Monterey CA 831-333-1313.

Palmina 1520 East Chestnut Court, Lompoc, California 93436 805.735.2030

Paraiso 38060 Paraiso Springs Rd., Soledad CA 831-678-0300

Parsonage 19 E. Carmel Valley Rd., Carmel Valley CA 831-659-7322

Pessagno 1645 River Rd., Salinas CA 831-675-9463

Pierce Ranch 499 Wave St. Monterey CA 831-372-8900

Scheid 751 Cannery Row, Monterey CA 831-656-9463. Actual winery is in Greenfield.

Sycamore 45185 Arroyo Seco Rd., Greenfield CA 831-674-5760

Talbot 53 W. Carmel Valley Rd., Carmel Valley CA 831-659-3500

Ventana 2999 Monterey-Salinas Hwy. #10, Monterey CA 831-372-7415