March 11, 2021
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, chances are you’ve made the short drive up to Napa and spent the day wine tasting with loved ones. Over the past year, memories like these have become even more treasured with spring and summer right around the corner, I know people are itching to get out of the house. I have lived in the Bay Area since 1997 and made Napa my home 12 years ago. I own Danielle Gibson Events, an event company that designs and produces corporate events, social celebrations and weddings in the Napa Valley, San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. (I also work with a number of wineries as a prop stylist, my pivot during Covid!) I am continually scouting new locations, hotels, restaurants, and wineries to keep myself and my clients well informed as to the best Napa has to offer. Between my two careers and general love of wineries, I have found a need to share my knowledge of the region and have written the following blogs – Visiting Napa on a Budget, Our Favorite Napa Valley Restaurants for Dinner and Tips from a Local for Traveling to Napa. Here we have compiled a list of our favorite 10 wineries with outside tastings and included a few key points to help you decide where to make your tasting appointments.
PS – We are also guest blogging this blog for Elise at What The Fab. Elise is a friend of ours, she spoke at our Women’s Conference, Better Together, and was a fellow event planner at Google before she quit her dream job and became a full time influencer. During the pandemic Elise moved to Napa with her husband, so now we are neighbors! I am excited for you to meet her and give her a follow!
Quick note to keep in mind when planning your trip, select the winery that’s right for you. What kind of wine do you like? What is your price range? All tastings are by appointment and have different price points. As always when visiting a winery, do the right thing and buy a bottle or 2 and leave a tip for your host.
Available by appointment Thursday thru Monday, 12-3:00 pm
Get away from the hustle and bustle of the valley and enjoy the relaxing feeling of tasting under the trees at Whetstone. Guests at Whetstone are encouraged to sip wine by the glass or bottle on their patio and enjoy the view of their incredible French-style chateau built in 1885. They are also a large supporter of their community and encourage guests to grab some take out from local restaurants so you can enjoy a picnic with your Whetstone wine. Book your appointment here and enjoy their wines ranging from $20 for a glass to $55-$125 for a bottle, depending on what they are offering that day.
Available by appointment Thursday & Sunday 12-6:00 pm , Friday & Saturday 12-8:00 pm, (closed Monday-Wednesday)
Located in downtown Napa’s Art District, St. Claire Brown is a pet-friendly winery/brewery greenhouse dropped in the middle of urban Napa. Tastings of their wine and beer take place in their greenhouse tasting room, which is nestled among seasonal raised garden beds and fruit trees. Enjoy their beautiful greenery and pair your tasting with some of their snacks inspired by the environment surrounding you. Appointments can be booked here at $40 per person for their standard wine tasting (inclusive of 4 current release wines) and $50 per person for their Flagship Wine Tasting which includes 4 of their premium wines. You can also purchase their wine by the bottle, which ranges from $25-$95 per bottle depending on what they are offering that day. For those more interested in beer, a flight of 3 current releases can be reserved at $18 per person and bottles be purchased onsite for $20 per 750ml bottle.
Available by appointment 10:00am to 3:00pm daily
This relaxed and leisurely seated tasting is among the vineyards on Robert Biale’s back porch. Their wine educators guide you through a personalized overview of Napa Valley, historic vineyards, family farming history and the fine points of appreciating world class Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Biale’s rare blends. Tip: ask them all about the Black Chicken! Appointments for their 90 minute tasting can be booked here (up to 4 guests per reservation). Each tasting is $35 per person. You can also purchase their wine by the bottle, which ranges from $40-$110 per bottle.
Available by appointment 10:00am to 6:00pm daily
Discussed in the pages of Vogue and Goop, the tasting experience at Ashes & Diamonds Winery is not one you will likely forget. The modern design and hipster following has a very different approach then most wineries in Napa. This unconventional approach reaches beyond their architecture to include their wide variety of tasting options. Visitors may choose one of four appointment options ranging from $45-$125, all of which include 4-5 wines accompanied with food pairings. Appointments can be booked here and wine may be purchased onsite, ranging from $40-$120 per bottle.
Available by appointment 11:00am to 6:00pm daily
Dubbed one of the chicest tasting patios in downtown Yountville, Stewart Cellars offers multiple tasting experiences. With their Portfolio Wine Tasting guests can enjoy sipping on four seasonal wines in their gorgeous courtyard at $30/person. For a more elevated experience, guests can reserve a Nomad Tasting hosted on the Nomad Library patio (designed by Ken Folk). At $125/person, guests are able to taste six wines from their exclusive vineyard designate Cabernet Sauvignon wines from Andy Beckstoffer’s Heritage vineyards. As an added bonus, grab breakfast, brunch or lunch at the casual family-owned business Southside Cafe, on the adjacent patio. Appointments can be made here wine may be purchased onsite, ranging from $25-$175 per bottle.
Available by appointment Thursday thru Monday 11:45- 5:00 pm
Designed by legendary architect, Howard Backen, ONEHOPE Winery embodies ONEHOPE’s purpose to nourish the future by sharing wine and giving hope. Since the company was founded in 2007, they’ve donated over $6M to meaningful causes. ONEHOPE’s flagship winery sits in the prestigious Rutherford Bench amongst some of the greatest wine brands in the world. Their outdoor patio is the brand spanking new, just opening their doors in 2021. Enjoy a wine + bites tasting for $125 per person in their modern open air patio with outdoor fireplaces by booking here. Their wines range from $20-$125 per bottle, depending on what they are offering that day.
Available by appointment 10:00am to 4:00pm daily
Tucked away in its own little valley on the eastern hillside of St. Helena sits the 26-acre Reverie II Estate. Visitation is limited and by appointment only. It is a great little gem most visitors don’t know about. Their wines are not your typical Napa Valley grapes but the hosts are typical Napa Valley locals. They have vineyard views off of their estate home on the porch, grassy lawn or at the roaring fire pit. Book appointments here. Their wines range from $42 -$125 per bottle.
Available by appointment 10:00am to 3:30pm daily
Located on Silverado Trail, Titus’s modern facility has an outdoor patio surrounded by rows and rows of vineyards. (with a bounty of mustard during the mustard season in February-March). At $45 per tasting, guests can expect to enjoy a few samplings of their current releases while enjoying a picturesque view of what Napa Valley is all about. Appointments can be made here and wine may be purchased onsite, ranging from $44-$105 per bottle.
Available by appointment 9:00am to 4:00pm daily
Ehlers Estate has been an institution in the Napa Valley since the mid 1800s. Tastings take place outside in the estate’s historic olive groves planted by Bernard Ehlers himself in 1886. Appointments can be made here, where guests can choose between the Estate Tasting, which offers a variety of wines from the estate at $50 per person, or the Cabernet Tasting where guests can enjoy sampling of exclusive, limited production Cabernets for $75 per person. Wine can also be purchased onsite, ranging from $32-$135 per bottle.
Nestled back in the hills of Calistoga, Amici Winery is a favorite of ours for so many reasons. The setting has a laid back relaxed style giving you the feeling like you are chilling at a good friends home. Wine prices start at $25 depending on the wines they are offering at the tasting. Tastings are $30 per person and can be booked here. During the pandemic they were donating 100% of visitor’s tasting fees to the Napa Valley Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund and as a special bonus they were giving a 15% discount on wine purchases at the winery or online for medical professionals. (ask for details if this discount still exists)
Cheers! – Danielle