Surrounding the approximately 6000 residents of the city of St. Helena, the appellations of St. Helena and Spring Mountain are prime growing grounds for Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel. With elevations from 600 to 2200 feet, the Spring Mountain area has slightly cooler temperatures and receives a little more rainfall than its valley floor counterpart.
Favorite Tasting Rooms in Spring Mountain and St. Helena
Beringer Family Vineyards – Founded in 1876, Beringer Vineyards is the oldest continuously operating winery in the Napa Valley and in 2001 the estate was placed on the National Register for Historic Places as a Historic District. Our favorites here are the Private Reserve Chardonnay and the Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, so go for the reserve tasting in the Rhine House. 2000 Main Street (Highway 29), St. Helena (866) 708-9463
Clif Family Winery – The “Velo Vino” tasting room is a unique place where the passions of cycling, wine and food are celebrated and blended. Owners and founders Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford have crafted a Napa Valley destination offering premium wines, a Bruschetteria food truck, and a specialty food line. All of the estate grown fruit is in transition to becoming organically certified and all other fruit is sourced from growers that have demonstrated a commitment to the environment and sustainable farming of their land. At the food truck (led by Executive Chef John McConnell), we heartily recommend the Formaggi and Funghi Bruschettas, the Rosemary and Lemon Roasted Chicken, and the Devilish Chocolate Cookies. In the tasting room, our favorites have been the Rte. Blanc Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Kit’s Killer Cab and Gary’s Improv Zin. 709 Main Street, St. Helena (707) 968-0625 [Groups of 6 or more please call ahead]
Joseph Phelps Vineyards – This family winery specializes in Rhone and Bordeaux style wines, and may be best known for their Insignia red wine blend. When the weather is nice, their outdoor tasting on the terrace comes with gorgeous views of the valley. Aside from the Insignia, our favorites here are the Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and their dessert wine Eisrebe. Sometimes you can also taste some wine from Joseph Phelps Vineyard’s sister winery, Freestone Winery, during your tastings here at JPV. 200 Taplin Road, St. Helena (800) 707-5789 [reservation required]
Paloma Vineyards – At elevations ranging from 2060 feet to 2240 feet on Spring Mountain, this small family winery produces stunning Merlots and Syrahs. After their Merlot was named the Wine of the Year in 2003 by the Wine Spectator, the winery became even more popular, increasing exponentially the difficulty in finding the wine. 4013 Spring Mountain Road, St. Helena (707) 963-7504 [reservation required]
Prager Winery & Port Works – And now, for something completely different. A family owned winery in Napa Valley that has been specializing in Ports since their first harvest in 1979. Friendly, funky, and popular tasting room. The Alyssa Golden Dry Port and Noble Companion Tawny Port are what we like the most. 1281 Lewelling Lane, St. Helena (707) 963-7678
Pride Mountain Vineyards – You will drive up a long winding mountain road to the top of Spring Mountain to reach this stellar family-owned winery whose property straddles the dividing line between Napa and Sonoma counties, but the journey is so worth it. Excellent Viognier, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon can be found here. 4026 Spring Mountain Road, St. Helena (707) 963-4949 [reservation required]
St. Clement Vineyards – This boutique winery is situated in a beautiful old house built in 1878 with a front porch (and swing) that overlooks the valley. There is a steep hike up the driveway to the front door once you get here, but if anyone has mobility problems you can also drive up and drop them off at house-level before you go back down to park. Our favorites here are their Abbotts Merlot, multiple Cabernet Sauvignons, and the Bordeaux-style blend Oroppas. 2867 St. Helena Highway (Highway 29), St. Helena (866) 877-5939
Salvestrin Winery – Three generations of Salvestrins live on this 26 acre property which has been in the family since 1932 on the west side of Highway 29. We especially like the Sauvignon Blanc, Sangiovese, and Retaggio (a Sangiovese-based Super Tuscan blend) here the most. 397 Main Street (Highway 29), St. Helena (707) 963-5105 [reservation required]
Favorite Food Stops in Spring Mountain and St. Helena
Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen – Part of chef Cindy Pawlcyn’s empire, this California-casual restaurant is bright and welcoming. The Mushroom Tamales, Rabbit Tostada, and Duck Burger are all (deservedly) popular. 1327 Railroad Avenue, St. Helena (707) 963-1200
Cook – This comfortable, unpretentious restaurant on St. Helena’s main drag is small (only 31 seats) but is usually packed due to the delicious food. There’s a small menu here, but the Fetuccine Vongole and Braised Short Ribs are sure bets if you are hungry. 1310 Main Street, St. Helena (707) 963-7088
DEAN & DELUCA – This gourmet food and wine store isn’t as densely packed with products as it used to be, but it’s still a reliable source of local wines, artisan cheeses, and gourmet food items to go (including tasty sandwiches). They also have a great coffee bar and an astounding selection of pastries sourced from Napa Valley bakeries. 607 South St. Helena Highway (Highway 29), St. Helena (707) 967-9980
Gott’s Roadside – Local institution that originally established its fame for gourmet burgers and fries under the name “Taylor’s Refresher”. If you’re not in the mood for a shake to go with your cheeseburger and fries, how about a beer or some wine? This is the original location – there are also other branches in downtown Napa (at the Oxbow Public Market) and in San Francisco (at the Ferry Building). 933 Main Street (Highway 29), St. Helena (707) 963-3486
Model Bakery – Part of Napa Valley’s culinary scene for almost 90 years, this favorite with locals specializes in artisan breads and other baked goods. Come here for breakfast or lunch (or to get something to go). In 2008, Model Bakery opened a second location at the Oxbow Market in Napa. 1357 Main Street, St. Helena (707) 963-8192
Terra – This fine dining restaurant evolved into two separate establishments in 2011. On one side, Terra provides classics (and some new creations) in the elegant fieldstone dining room where you’ll probably need reservations. On the other side, Bar Terra offers lighter fare in a more casual environment that doesn’t require reservations. The Asparagus Salad, Beet Salad, Black Cod, and Duck Breast are all divine here. 1354 Railroad Avenue, St. Helena (707) 963-8931
The Restaurant at Meadowood – Elegant, romantic, stellar restaurant at Meadowood, Napa Valley’s first luxury resort. The Restaurant was awarded three Michelin stars, but promotes itself as a casually elegant dining experience which may seem contradictory until you go to the restaurant’s website and discover that not only are jackets not required, they even allow jeans (but Meadowood does gently suggest on their website that “well-kept denim in a dark shade is preferred”.) 900 Meadowood Lane, St. Helena (707) 963-3646
Tra Vigne – If you are looking for a quintessential wine country restaurant, this may be it. This amazing Italian restaurant, focused on regional and seasonal ingredients, has a classic neo-Italian dining room inside and a shade-covered Tuscan courtyard outside. Long-time favorites on the menu include Pizzetta with Cambozola Cheese, Pappardelle with Rabbit Ragu, and Braised Beef Short Ribs. 1050 Charter Oak Avenue, St. Helena (707) 963-4444
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 (or at a second location in Napa). 1138 Main Street, St. Helena (707) 963-7812
Woodhouse Chocolate – This artisan chocolate store uses only the highest quality nuts, cream, butter and spices they can find in their beautiful handmade creations. Even if you don’t want to buy, you should at least walk over and check out the window display. 1367 Main Street, St. Helena (800) 966-3468
Spring Mountain District Association – Association of wineries and growers in the Spring Mountain AVA.
Appellation St. Helena – Organization of wineries and grapegrowers in the St. Helena AVA.
Napa Valley Vintners – Trade association promoting Napa Valley appellation as the premiere wine growing region.
Silverado Trail Wineries Association – A group of more than 40 businesses and wineries along the historic Silverado Trail.