Moved to Napa this summer. What wineries should be on my list?
I moved to Napa about a month ago. Like many people before me, I want to pursue one of my life-long dreams of being in the wine industry. If Mr. Big from “Sex & The City” did it, I can too.
I grew up in Marin, the county to its south. I started visiting Napa around age 10, picnicking at Cline. As I got a little older, I sipped at St. Supery and had a once-in-a-lifetime lunch at French Laundry. I’m rusty with the Valley because I lived in Southern California for decades. So now that I’m here in the Motherland and can explore Napa as never before, I need your advice. Where should I go?
I bought one of those old-fashioned tour maps to help me understand the basics. Once you drive up “the 101” (those in Cali will know I was in So Cal awhile), you take the 37 to the 29 North. Voila! You’re in the Wine Country.
Upon arriving, the first place you hit is downtown Napa with its well-known wine train. I remember when the wine train was first installed and many of the locals were upset. I wonder how they feel now as I suspect it’s been great for tourism. Should I take it?
To the west, you have some big names like Artesa and Hess. Should I venture that way first?
Now the decision becomes, do I head up the 29 or veer right to the Silverado Trail? Either way, I’d go through Yountville (with French Laundry!), Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena and Calistoga. What would you do? I’m told the Silverado Trail is more scenic but it has fewer wineries than 29. I’m cautious about the 29 as a local told me it’s like Disneyland.
I think I’ll take the Silverado Trail because I hate Disneyland. Also, this route will get me to Calistoga with Chateau Montelena, the winery responsible for putting Napa on the world wine map in 1976 (watch the “Bottle Shock” movie).
The Silverado Trail has some pretty darn famous wineries like Darioush, Clos du Val, Chimney Rock, Stag’s Leap, Cliff Lede, Silver Oak, Plumpjack and Groth (and that’s just in Yountville). In Oakville,there’s Mumm and Frog’s Leap. Rutherford has Joseph Phelps. And St. Helena has Duckhorn, Rombauer and Burgess! And, finally, there is Chateau Montelena.
On the other hand, going up 29 first is tantalizingly tempting. Before Yountville there’s Hess. Complimenting French Laundry and Bouchon Bakery, Yountville has Domaine Chandon and Cosentino. Oakville has Robert Mondavi, Turnbull, Cakebread and St. Supery. And Rutherford has Grgich Hills, Provenance and Raymond.
St. Helena has some hearty wineries itself: Heitz, Clif Family, Hall, Sutter Home, Beringer and Charles Krug. Keep going and you’d be on the west side of Calistoga with Freemark Abbey, Sterling, Twomey and Schramsberg.
So, if you were me, where would you go?
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