The Napa Valley is an appellation, which means that the climate and terrain have a distinct impact on grapes grown here causing certain characteristics to shine through, compared to grapes grown elsewhere in the world. The wines made from Napa Valley grapes are internationally admired, and this is a great place to come wine tasting and have some fun.
In addition to all of Napa Valley being an appellation, there are actually 15 other subappellations within the valley as well. If you read below, you will see our favorite wine tasting rooms and food destinations in the city of Napa, as well as two appellations, Mount Veeder and the Oak Knoll District.
Favorite Tasting Rooms in Napa City, Mount Veeder, and the Oak Knoll District
Falcor – One of several tasting rooms in Napa’s Corporate Park at the south end of the city, this winery and tasting salon also offers a food and wine pairing with 48 hours’ notice. We really like their Trosseau Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, and their Bordeaux-style blend Le Bijou. 2511 Napa Valley Corporate Drive, Suite 115 (888) 402-9463.
Hendry – This family-owned estate winery makes consistently delicious wine across ten different varietals and the lessons learned from more than 70 harvests on this property come through on the palate. While we are always impressed by their entire spectrum of wines, our favorites include the unoaked Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Blocks 7 and 22 Zinfandel, Primitivo, and the Block 8 Cabernet Sauvignon. 3104 Redwood Road, Napa (707) 226-8320 [reservation required]
Hess Collection – One of the first 10 wineries to receive certification for the Napa Green Winery program, Hess Collection winery also houses an interesting modern art collection based on 20 living artists. The most reliable wines here are the Mount Veeder Chardonnay, the Hess Collection Cabernet Sauvignon, and the 19 Block Cuvee. 4411 Redwood Road, Napa (707) 255-1144
Hyde de Villaine (HdV) – This is a family venture between Larry Hyde of Napa Valley (owner of Hyde Vineyards in Carneros) and Aubert & Pamela de Villaine of Burgundy (Aubert de Villaine is one of Burgundy’s most recognized individuals, born and raised in the rich traditions of France’s greatest winemaking techniques). The winemaker, Stéphane Vivier, was born and raised in France and joined HdV in 2002. We were most enamored by their Chardonnays and a Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend called “Belle Cousine.” 588 Trancas Street, Napa (707-251-9121) [reservation required]
John Anthony Vineyards – Small family winery offering wines from vineyards in the Oak Knoll District, Carneros and Coombsville regions with a convenient tasting room next to the Avia Hotel. Very nice Sauvignon Blanc, and an impressive Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc as well. 1440 First Street, Napa (707) 265-7711
Judd’s Hill – Son of pioneering vintners Art and Bunnie Finkelstein, Judd Finkelstein and his wife Holly hand-craft delicious wines at the southern end of Silverado Trail where they limit their production to 3000 cases per year. The Cabernet Sauvignons shine here. 2332 Silverado Trail, Napa (707) 255-2332 [reservation required]
O’Brien Estate – When you visit this 33 acre estate, you will have a friendly and casual wine tasting experience in the owners’ backyard sitting at picnic tables under oak trees. After you fall in love with the wines (which you will) you should come back in July for their “Date Night at the Drive-In,” an event where they serve food and wine and then show a movie on the side of their barn. We especially like their Chardonnay, Merlot, Flirtation Rosé, and Seduction Bordeaux Blend. 1200 Orchard Avenue, Napa (707) 252-8463 [reservation required]
Robert Biale Vineyards – One of California’s best Zinfandel producers, this winery has a great story behind their Black Chicken Zinfandel wine. Several of their wines are so popular that only wine club members are able to buy them. Our favorites here are their Sangiovese and the wide range of Zinfandels (Aldo’s Vineyard, Black Chicken, Old Crane Ranch, Grande, Monte Rosso, Stagecoach, and Valsecchi, to name a few). 4038 Big Ranch Road, Napa (707) 257-7555 [reservation required]
Robert Craig Winery – Come here! The owners are lovely, the hospitality staff are friendly, and the wines are just awesome. This is your opportunity to learn how terroir can influence the same grape varietal, as Robert Craig makes separate Cabernet Sauvignons from Mount Veeder, Howell Mountain, Spring Mountain, and also makes a Bordeaux-style Cabernet Sauvignon blend called Affinity. We love all of their Cabernets, and the Durell Vineyard Chardonnay and Howell Mountain Zinfandel (from Black Sears vineyard) are also excellent. Although the Robert Craig winery is up on Howell Mountain, their tasting salon is in the city of Napa. 625 Imperial Way, Napa (707) 252-2250 [reservation required]
Trefethen Family Vineyards – This winery was originally built in 1886 as Eschol Winery, by the person who designed other classic wineries such as Greystone (now the Culinary Institute of America), Far Niente, and Inglenook. The Trefethens purchased this property in 1968 and restored it, and it is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are particularly impressive here. 1160 Oak Knoll Avenue, Napa (866) 895-7696 [reservation required for parties of 7 or more]
Y Rousseau Wines – This small family-owned winery produces food-friendly wines made in the Old World French Style. We really enjoy the traditional Napa wines (Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon) at Y Rousseau but there is a soft spot in our hearts for the less commonly found varietals Colombard and Tannat that are crafted into absolutely stunning treats here. Winemaker/Owner Yannick Rousseau and his wife Susan opened their tasting room in May 2013 and we strongly encourage you to visit. 902 Enterprise Way, Suite O, Napa 415-713-4203 [reservation required]
Favorite Food Stops in Napa City, Mount Veeder, and the Oak Knoll District
ABC (Alexis Baking Company) – The best place in Napa Valley for breakfast (either eat-in or to-go) with specials each day driven by seasonal produce. Breakfast Sandwiches, Omelets, Eggs Benedict, and French Toast with Fruit are all solid choices (and she has great coffee here). 1517 3rd Street, Napa (707) 258-1827
Andie’s Café – Not a glamorous setting (what with being in front of a car wash and all) but a great choice for a good burger or other convenient lunch items. 1042 Freeway Drive, Napa (707) 259-1107
Angele Restaurant and Bar – French Country restaurant offering wine, cocktails, and great Bistro food inside or on a terrace near the Napa River. The menu evolves based on seasonal choices, executed well. 540 Main Street, Napa (707) 252-8115
Azzurro Pizzeria e Enoteca – Great pizza place popular with both locals and tourists from a former Chef de Cuisine and partner at Tra Vigne. The Margherita, Verde, and Funghi pizzas or one of the Manciatas are sure bets. 1260 Main Street, Napa (707) 255-5552
Bistro Don Giovanni – Local institution of rustic Italian fare is the place for outstanding wine country dining including homemade pasta dishes. They use herbs, vegetables and produce from local farmers and support ranches that raise humanely-treated, free-roaming livestock and poultry. Fritto Misto, Pizzas, Linguine & Clams, Ravioli with Lemon Cream, Pappardelle with Sugo, and Grilled Berkshire Pork Chop are excellent choices if you have trouble deciding. 4110 Howard Lane, Napa (707) 224-3300
Carpe Diem Wine Bar – Welcoming wine bar and restaurant in downtown Napa with tasty food and a good choice for happy hour. Truffled Popcorn, House Fries, Wild Mushroom Flatbread, and Short Rib Sliders are worthwhile options here. 1001 2nd Street, Napa (707) 224-0800 (Carpe Diem’s regular location is being remodeled due to the 2014 earthquake, so they are currently operating a “pop-up” store at Oxbow Public Market)
Celadon – Another great restaurant in the historic Napa Mill, next to the Napa River. Enjoy your meal of global comfort food inside, or outside in the sheltered courtyard. Crab Cakes, Endive and Pear Salad, Top Sirloin Steak, and the 5-Spice Duck Breast are winners here. Sister restaurant to Cole’s Chop House just a few blocks away. 500 Main St # G, Napa (707) 254-9690
Cole’s Chop House – If you are looking for a Great American Steak House, come on in. From the same owner as Celadon, this usually crowded restaurant features 21 day dry-aged prime steaks, Certified Angus Beef, formula fed veal, New Zealand lamb and fresh seafood. 1122 Main Street, Napa (707) 224-6328
Fume Bistro & Bar – This friendly casual restaurant is a little north of downtown Napa, off of Highway 29, and has a wide range of options to choose from. Roasted Artichoke, Pear Salad, BBQ Baby Back Ribs, and the Grilled Pork Chop are all great here, but watch out for the crowds on Monday nights when they offer their “5 Buck Chuck” burger in the bar for only $5.55 before you load your options. 4050 Byway East, Napa (707) 257-1999
Genova Delicatessan – Classic and very popular deli in central Napa. Breads are made fresh daily, and you have your choice of a vast variety of cheeses, meats and condiments to customize your own hot or cold sandwich. 1550 Trancas Street, Napa (707) 253-8686
Gott’s Roadside Cafe – Formerly known as Taylor’s Automatic Refresher, this gourmet burger joint is a sister restaurant to the original up in St. Helena and a third location in San Francisco (at the Ferry Building). If you’re not in the mood for a shake to go with your cheeseburger and fries, how about a beer or some wine? 644 1st Street, Napa (707) 224-6900
Il Posto Trattoria – This family-style Trattoria serves comfort Italian food in a location that has been almost everything except a restaurant over the years (paint store, jean store, etc.). You can find the expected dishes here prepared well (Pizza, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Chicken Parmigiana,Veal Saltimbocca) but it’s the less-common dishes we are most impressed by here (Bruschetta with Ricotta and Fava Beans, Ravioli with Swiss Chard and Ricotta, Penne in a Walnut Sauce with Crumbled Biscotti, and Oreccchiette with Italian Sausage, Cauliflower, and Red Cabbage). 4211 Solano Avenue, Napa (707) 251-8600
La Taquiza – High-quality fish tacos are the name of the game at this Mexican casual dining restaurant. Fish can be ordered “California Style” which is seasoned and grilled, or “Baja Style” which is battered and fried. All of the dressings and salsas are made in-house too. 2007 Redwood Road, Suite 104, Napa (707) 224-2320
La Toque – Chef Ken Frank’s elegant restaurant is the recipient of a Michelin star, having moved to its Westin Verasa location in September 2008. The menu evolves constantly in order to show off seasonal ingredients, but you can either create your own multi-course experience or go with the five-course Chef’s Tasting Menu or Vegetable Tasting Menu. 1314 McKinstry Street, Napa (707) 257-5157
Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company – Local institution selling coffee drinks from beans they roast themselves in small batches. In addition to this downtown store, they also have a second location in St. Helena. 948 Main Street, Napa (707) 224-2233
New York Pizza Kitchen – Neighborhood pizza joint also offering a take-and-bake option. If you are staying somewhere with a kitchenette, or you just want a pizza to take back to the room (to go with the wine you bought today), this is a great choice. Or, if you are looking for delivery, they do that too! 657 Trancas Street, Napa (707) 255-8488
Norman Rose Tavern – Looking for a casual and comfortable bar/restaurant to go with friends for great food and TVs showing the game? This is your place. If you’re not in the mood for their excellent fish and chips, then a Cheeseburger, Hot Dog, or Grilled Chese Sandwich can be ordered here as well as fries made four different ways – Natural (Sea Salt and Pepper), BBQ, Truffle & Parmesan, or “Disco” (with pork sausage gravy and cheddar cheese). 1401 First Street, Napa (707) 258-1516
Oenotri – Excellent Italian restaurant with a daily changing menu and some very interesting dishes in downtown Napa. Genuine Neapolitan pizza, stellar pastas, and housemade salumi can be found here. 1425 First Street, Napa, CA (707) 252-1022
Oxbow Public Market – This popular market of specialty merchants seems to have one of everything you could possibly need. Excellent quality purveyors of meat (Five Dot Ranch), charcuterie (Fatted Calf), breads (Model Bakery), cheese (Oxbow Cheese Merchant), spices (Whole Spice), cupcakes (Kara’s Cupcakes), ice cream (Three Twins Organic Ice Cream), coffee (Ritual Coffee Roasters), wine (Oxbow Wine Merchant) and produce (Oxbow Produce and Grocery) are all here. If you’re hungry for something else, you can also choose between oysters (Hog Island Oyster Company), cheeseburgers (Gott’s Roadside Cafe), tacos (C Casa), or you can give Venezuelan food a try (Pica Pica Maize Kitchen). 610 and 644 First Street, Napa
Sweetie Pies – This retail and wholesale bakery sells delicious baked goods direct to the public at this cute storefront in downtown Napa at the Hatt Building (also known as the Historic Napa Mill). 520 Main Street, Napa (707) 257-7280
Villa Corona – The place to go if all you want is some reasonably-priced authentic Mexican food made with fresh ingredients in a casual atmosphere. Aim for the burritos, enchiladas, and tacos here (they also have another location in St. Helena). 3614 Bel Aire Plaza, Napa (707) 257-8685
ZuZu – Very popular tapas restaurant in the heart of the Old Town district of Napa. The chefs here use fresh, seasonal ingredients to prepare classic and modern tapas to crowds of very satisfied customers. Watermelon Gazpacho, Jamon Iberico, Tortilla Española, Bacalao, Pimientos de Padron, Albondigas, and the Lamb Burger are just some of the reliable selections here. 829 Main Street, Napa (707) 224-8555
Mount Veeder Appelation Council – Association of wineries and growers in the Mount Veeder AVA.
Napa Valley Vintners – Trade association promoting the Napa Valley appelation as the premiere winegrowing region.
Napa Valley Welcome Center – Helpful tourism center on the Riverfront in downtown Napa at 600 Main Street