I’m a self-proclaimed wine connoisseur. My friends call me “wine mom,” and it’s a pretty accurate description. So a trip to Napa is always on my itinerary, but unfortunately it’s not always in my budget. Much like trying to find the best cheap wine in a grocery store, finding decently priced, good tasting wine in Napa takes a lot of trial and error. Luckily for you, I’ve done a few reconnaissance trips, and this is what I’ve found.
1. Napa Cellars
Napa Cellars has a variety of wine tasting flights for $15 each. Not only do they showcase wines from Napa Cellars Winery, but also wines from Folie à Deux and Ménage à Trois wineries, giving you a range of wines to try all at one cost-efficient location. The vibe is very relaxed and fun, and you can step outside with a glass of wine to play yard games such as corn hole.
2. V. Sattui
This is my absolute favorite winery. Not only does the winery feature $15 tastings in their main tasting room, but there is an artisanal deli that’s to die for. After you do their tasting, grab a bottle of your favorite wine (which you can only find at this winery or in Italy), some food from their market, and have a picnic out in their picnic grounds. If the weather isn’t great, they have tables in their wine cellar where you can eat.
Be sure to check out their calendar of events before planning your trip to see if you can make it to one of their special events.
This recognizable wine brand is $25 a tasting in their Old Winery Tasting Room, but offers winery-exclusive wines. As California’s longest continually operating winery, you know you’re in good hands. A bonus? They’re environmentally friendly in their wine-making process and focus on sustainably farming their grapes, so you can drink guilt-free.
Built by the same owner as V. Sattui, this castle boasts 13th-century Tuscan architecture and Italian style-wines to put you right in the Italian countryside without the price tag or jet lag. $25 gets you a wine tasting, a map of the castle, and access to all the upper levels of the castle. They also offer upgrades to your wine tasting, such as chocolate pairings for $5 or a European cheese pairings for $15.
At $25 for a tasting in their basic tasting room, Raymond Vineyards is a little pricier, but it’s one of the most unique vineyards and is definitely worth checking out. For $5 more, you can have your tasting in their working wine cellar, the Crystal Cellar, where they actually make the wines. The Crystal Cellar also features a display of historic crystal decanters and the corridor of senses, where you see how wine feels on your various senses.
They also have a free outdoor “theater of nature,” which is a display of the different parts of nature that go into the wine-making process. My favorite part, however, is the sub-winery, The Frenchie Winery, where you can bring your dog wine-tasting with you (or if you’re like me, obsess over Frenchie, the owner’s French bulldog and official mascot of the winery).
Alternate Option: Napa Valley Wine Train
If you’re willing to splurge a bit, check out the Napa Valley Wine Train. Travel through the Napa countryside on a train while enjoying a gourmet meal and delicious wines. With different options ranging from stops at wineries like Castello di Amorosa or the Murder Mystery Dinner, you’ll definitely have a unique experience.
Pick one to make a day of, or try them all. You can’t go wrong because wine is the greatest.