Travel Guide: Napa Valley Vineyards

The boyfriend and I recently went on our first trip to Napa Valley in California, and the sheer number of winery tours and visits can make planning a trip quite overwhelming. With more than 400 wineries in a relatively concentrated area, we wanted to make sure to spend our time at the best ones. After a great trip, we wanted to share those wineries with you all. Be sure to check back for our restaurant guide for the region!
Our absolute favorite vineyard visit was with one of our go-to wines, Silver Oak. (Photos from our visit above). Silver Oak is a delicious vineyard solely dedicated to my favorite wine, Cabernet Sauvignon. After drinking their Alexander Valley and Napa Valley wines for years, it was great to see the company’s location and especially how well the company preserves its history. One of the rooms we entered had walls lined with news clippings and memorabilia from the company’s start.

Silver Oak’s production facilities were spotless and state of the art. I especially loved the area where they have their American oak barrels, which let off a beautiful oaky smell the second we stepped inside of it. It was also very charming to see the water tower that is displayed in Silver Oak’s logo on its bottles actually exists on the lovely premises.

We wound up leaving the tour with 6 bottles of Silver Oak to enjoy at home this holiday season and share with family and friends. You can find some great gift sets on their website as well if you’d like to try it out.

Nickel & Nickel came highly recommended from a number of friends so we booked a tour of the winery in Oakville. The premises are stunning, located in an old plantation home that is decorated in the  Queen-Anne period that the house was built. In the sitting room where you are greeted with a glass of Chardonnay, there are black and white photos of the residents and workers that once ran the farm.

Our tour guide, Walt, grew up in the region so he was well acquainted with the evolution of Napa Valley and its rebirth after Prohibition. He was equally energetic and knowledgeable, making for an entertaining tour. After walking around the premises and learning about the climate in the area and the factors that go into creating the flavor of Nickel & Nickel’s wines, we sat down in a tasting room and tried some delicious wines paired with cheese and compared the flavors of each wine.
Our experience at Joseph Phelps was unlike anything else we did in Napa. I’ve been a huge fan of Joseph Phelps’ Insignia blend for years. Insignia is a premium bottle of wine and the blend of grapes changes each year depending on a number of factors including the weather and the quality of different grapes.

We had the pleasure of signing up for an Insignia blending class that was so informative and fun, and allowed us to flex our vino muscles after a few days of tastings. Walking inside the classroom is like an adult chemistry class. There are empty wine glasses and small beakers that you use to measure out different flavors to balance your blend. After trying each of the wines that we would have the opportunity to use in creating our blends, we began mixing, and let’s just say it is easier said than done. My first batch was so-so, but the second one was really delicious. Of course, at the end of the class we sipped some of Joseph Phelps’ Inginia blend and neither of our blends could hold a candle to it.

This was a great class to do with a significant other or a group of friends and is a nice change from the more traditional tastings.

Darioush is truly unique winery in the Napa region and has a very distinct point of view. The grounds of this winery are stunning, with Persian influence depicted throughout. We loved the enormous columns out in the front that contrasted with the bright blue skies in Napa.

When you walk inside Darioush, it is a stunning venue that is so well curated for a younger, hip audience.I was so impressed by their collection of objects for sale throughout the tasting room, which effortlessly blends their wines and retail. For instance, they had Want Les Essentials leather bags, Fornacetti candles, Kelly Wearstler wine stops, etc. It was wine and retail, so pretty much it was my happy place.

Next, we tried some of Darioush’s wines paired with pistachios. My favorite of the flights were the Cabernet Sauvignon and their Shiraz, but everything we tasted was amazing. I would absolutely recommend a tasting here if you make it to the area.

More on Napa Valley: Our Favorite Restaurants

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