Hawaii Mom Blog: Visit Napa Valley: My Top Three Wineries




March 14, 2016

Visit Napa Valley: My Top Three Wineries

Kenzo Estate Winery

I was so excited for my very first trip to Napa Valley, California that I polled my friends on Facebook for their must-visit wineries.  My friends were gracious with their responses and recommended a number of wineries.  But because we only had two full days in Napa and found out (the hard way) you really should only visit 2 wineries a day, we fit 5 on our itinerary: Castello di Amorosa, Schramsberg Vineyards, Duckhorn Vineyards, Kenzo Estate Winery, and Jarvis Winery.  We really did not do ourselves a favor by booking them back to back so that was another lesson learned.

I honestly had a great time and exponentially expanded my knowledge of wine on all the tours, but here are my top three of the five.

1.  Kenzo Estate Winery - 3200 Monticello Road, Napa

We arrived early to our Flight of Four ($40 -flight of 4 one ounce tastings) and our guide was super accommodating and prepared to start right away.  He was so knowledgeable and his passion and love for wine really made our experience excellent.  

I fell in love with the asatsuyu, the only white wine from Kenzo Estate, and the Murasaki -  a merlot-influenced Bordeaux blend.  For the Murasaki, I wasn't prepared to spend $250 on a bottle of wine so I took home the half bottle to savor for a special occasion.  Currently, they don't have any retail outlets besides their online store.  The wines are served in restaurants in Hawaii so I am looking forward to ordering a glass at my next dinner.

If we weren't already late to our next tour, I would have loved to stay much longer and walk the grounds.  On our way down, we spotted two deer!  Tours are by appointment only and minors are not allowed.

2.  Schramsberg Vineyards - 1400 Schramsberg Road, Calistoga

I love bubbly so naturally I was very excited to visit Schramsberg Vineyards known for their sparkling wines.  My friends and I took their $60 appointment-only tour through the 125 year old caves.  We learned about their classic method of producing sparkling wine and tasted four of their wines.

The Blanc de Blancs (white from white) made from Chardonnay grapes was my favorite and I enjoyed the story about how it was the first wine Schramsberg produced in 1965 and gained international recognition in 1972 when then President Nixon served the wine at the historic "Toast to Peace" in Beijing, China.  The picture of the toast is up on the wall in the reception area.  Very cool!

We left so impressed that my friend joined their wine club and I ordered a glass of the blanc de blancs at dinner the next night.

3.  Jarvis Winery - 2970 Monticello Road, Napa

The Jarvis Estate winemaking facility is entirely contained within 45,000 square feet of cave tunneled into the Vaca Mountains and includes a waterfall!  Pretty amazing!  Our tour guide Cora was awesome!  She was extremely friendly and knowledgeable.  These tour guides really can make or break your experience so cross your fingers you get a good one!  

After the tour, we headed to the Tasting Chamber where tasted six of the Jarvis Estate and Reserve Collection wines.  The Chardonnay and the Reserve were my most favorite.  The tour was a little pricey at $80, but I had a wonderful time.  The Tour and Tasting is available daily by appointment and minors are not allowed.

Quite a few people recommended a visit to Castello di Amorosa so we signed up for the $60 cheese and wine pairing guided tour.  In hindsight, the self guided tour which also includes a tasting would have been just as good. 

After two back to back wine tours and tastings, I was glad to have a seated tasting at the beautiful Duckhorn Vineyards Estate House.  By this tasting, we were pretty much wined out and just wanted to chat.  The $30 portfolio tasting featured five current release wines.  I was thankful for a place to rest and have good conversation, but a little underwhelmed by the wine selection.

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