Suggestions for visiting Napa?

Truchard, on the Napa side of Carneros, makes a beautiful Cab Franc and a Merlot, both with a more old world restrained style (still ripe, it is CA after all, but not the crazy high brix stuff). Truchard doesn’t get a ton of recognition on WB, but absolutely deserves it. The quality of the farming and the winemaking is not indifferent to producers charging hundreds for tastings and their wines. The difference is they’re still family owned, and they’ve owned their land outright since the 70s so they have the luxury of producing great wines at below market prices. My wife and I had a great tour last June with some of the most wholesome and genuine people you’ll find in Napa. I also really love their Rousanne, and the Chardonnay is excellent as well.

I’m a club member and just put my spring order in for a bunch of the Cab Francs, they’re really exceptional, and at $37 a bottle, an outrageous deal for Napa.


Go down to the Santa Cruz Mountains and taste at Mount Eden. Go over to Sonoma and taste at Littorai. A few years ago, I would have said taste at Stony Hill, but since it has been sold I don’t know what to expect there. Taste at Chateau Montelena.


Respectfully I firmly disagree with this. My visit in Jan 2022 was extremely underwhelming. Whisked into a room and tasted wines while the host pushed their club. Not shown the grounds, winery, vines, anything really.


Same experience here. I enjoy their estate cab, but the tasting experience was certainly not near the top of my list.


Same here in April 2022. All I heard about was Judgement of Paris and their club (which I was a member of at the time). Tiny pours, was ready to leave after 30 minutes of a 60 minute tasting. Even my wife said how disappointing it was without being prompted.


Jumping on this recommendation also, A&D cab franc is something you should definitely try given your interest.

+1 for Mayacamas as a benchmark.

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Very interesting! He (Steve Matthiasson) also makes an A&D Merlot for A&D, and their cab franc. We recently drank the A&D 2015 Vineyard 1 Cabernet Sauvignon, a lovely, complex, and elegant 12.6% Napa cab, but it looks like Diana Snowden makes their cabs now.


Thanks for the comments regarding the Montelana and Larkmead visits. We have gone to both places in the past, and have bought several cases of both of their wines, but have not visited there in a few years.

Regarding Mayacamas, there is a downtown tasting room and their estate on Lokoya Road. Both are excellent visits.

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You might consider Newton. They have some old merlots that are only available at the winery. Merlot and CF is not their primary wine, but they are both excellent. The tour and grounds at this winery are lovely as well. Well known for their gardens.

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I noticed a sentimental favorite that offers really good experiences is now over $100pp. I think it may cement my viewpoint to order a winery’s best offering BTG or bottle & take in the views at our leisure and skip tasting through wines I have no interest in.

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We really, really enjoyed visiting @Bobby_Moy at Chiron. Off the beaten path, personalized tasting experience, great breadth and quality. Appointment required. Definitely recommended.


B Moy is the man. His spirit is infectious and the wines are superb. We, too, had a fabulous visit.


The winery and grounds were heavily damaged by the Glass fire. I think they’re doing tastings temporarily in Calistoga.

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That’s very depressing to hear…

Thank you again everyone for all of the suggestions. Our trip was great despite the fact that it rained the entire time that I was there. My wife is still out there for work now, enjoying the better weather without me!

Aeris by Rhys
We started with Aeris in Sonoma. Aeris is project of Rhys that focuses on Italian varieties, mostly Sicilian. We enjoyed the tasting. In collaboration with Salvo Foti, they have vines in Sicily so we were able to taste both their domestic and Sicilian Carricante and Nerello Mascalese. I preferred each of the Sicilian wines, but I think there is some promise with the domestic wines.

The 2017 Aeris Wines Etna Etna Rosso Centenari was the wine of the day, followed by the 2017 Rhys Pinot Noir Bearwallow Vineyard

I won’t go into details on dinner, but we went to The Matheson in Healdsburg which is down the block from Aeris tasting room. The feel was very pretentious. I didnt enjoy the vibe or hostess, but our waitress was great. The food was great and I had a half glass of 2013 d’Yquem (great, but I expected more) and a glass of Colonel EH Taylor Barrel Proof which is one of my personal favs in the bourbon world.

Opus One
On day 2 we made 3 stops starting with Opus One. The wines were excellent as expected. The 2012 was the standout and we preferred the 2017 over the 2019. Time will tell of course. Overture was also excellent. If you are not familiar with it, it is usually a blend of wine that was not used for Opus One. It is a very good wine that has a serious marketing challenge because although it is much more affordable than Opus One, it is not an inexpensive wine. It still carries fine tannins and a great deal of elegance, but not the collect-ability of Opus One. As expected, the place is beautiful, the wines are old world-like and excellent and our guide, Nancy Hawks, was was a pleasure to converse with. She was quite knowledgeable and also quite modest.

Seavey Vineyard
Beautiful area in the middle of nowhere. We were greeted by a playful cat, and enjoyed a portion of our tasting with that cat, and a lovely dog, that may have been the most friendly creature on the planet. The 2016 Caravina (86% Cab, 11% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot) and the 2016 Merlot were our favorites. We tasted 6 wines in SBS fashion. 2 Merlot, 2 Caravina and 2 Cabs. We are both not huge cab fans, but that may overstate our sentiment a bit. About 10% of our cellar is Cabernet Sauvignon, though mostly old world. The wines were good and clearly need lots of aging. They are too big for us in their youth, made in a more Napa style, but we did buy a few bottles of a Merlot and a Caravina to put away.

PS do not Uber/lyft unless you schedule them in advance, and maybe not even then. We had a car rented, but it was cancelled last second and we decided to uber/lyft. There is little to no cell service, and uber/lyft drivers do not want to drive there. We were stuck there for 45 minutes after and nearly missed our next stop.

Pride Mountain Vineyard
And that next stop was Pride Mountain Vineyard. This sits next to Opus One as our favorites of the trip. We were lucky enough to try the 2006 Merlot both out of a Magnum, and a 750. The 750 was great though possibly better a year or 2 back, but I loved it and bought a few. I am jealous of anyone who has magnums though! The 2007 Syrah was also fantastic, as was the very young 2019 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. We left with a few of each. This part of the trip would not have been possible if not for the helpful staff at Pride. Jay Herbert in particular who stayed late to make sure we were able to enjoy our tasting. He was a great guide, and it is interesting again how the most knowledgeable of our guides were the most humble and modest.

The next day we did not have set plans as we thought we may just want to enjoy a relaxing day somewhere, but with the rain we decided to try to make some visits. We aimed for Matthiasson, but sadly it was not possible with such a short notice.

Freemark Abbey
Being a slower rainy Monday, Freemark Abbey accommodated us and we were fortunate to get to taste the 2003 Cabernet Bosche, which was excellent, but still a bit too big for our palates. We did several SBS tasting here. I was initially most intrigued by the 2019 Partners Blend (59% Cabernet Franc, 39% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon), but this was still a bit big for my preference. Lastly we had a 2015 Syrah Port, which stood out for me enough for us to leave with few.

Castello di Amaorosa
This was our last stop. Outrageous castle, built with actual stones from old castles imported from Europe. The place is truly incredible, but did not seem very much about wine. The guide was a great tour guide and made the tour fun, but she did not know much about wine, while she often pretended she did and sidestepped any meaningful questions. The wines were the weakest of the trip, but I did enjoy the semi sweet Gewürztraminer, which seemed more sweet than semi-sweet.

Long note for anyone who is interested, but most importantly I wanted to thank everyone for the suggestions. There were still many other suggestions that seemed great that we will hopefully get a chance to visit on our next trip to Napa! Thank you everyone!