The Carneros Region (aka Los Carneros) is an area that spreads across the southern ends of both Napa and Sonoma Counties. Closer to the Bay, this cooler region is best known for growing excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Favorite Tasting Rooms in Carneros
Artesa – This scenic winery, at the former site of Cordoníu Napa, is set into the highest hill of its 350-acre estate and has great views from the terrace. The Visitor’s Center here provides a dramatic backdrop for original works of sculpture, painting, and mixed media. While here, you should aim for the Albariño, Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, and Merlots. 1345 Henry Road, Napa (707) 224-1668
Bouchaine – Friendly, family-owned winery focused on producing excellent Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs. Their food-and-wine pairing program (Table for Two) offers a range of salads, spreads, cheeses and other nibbles along with a bottle of their estate Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. Bouchaine also has a fun self-guided tour through the vineyards where you can see different varietals being grown, learn about farming techniques, and see great views of the valley on a 0.7 mile stroll. We really like the Riesling, Pinot Meunier, and Rockin H Pinot Noir. 1075 Buchli Station Road, Napa (707) 252-9065
Cuvaison Estate Wines – This tasting room for Cuvaison in the Carneros region is a modernistic building of metal framework and lots of windows, so you can see the surrounding vineyards (if you’re not sitting outside on the patio in the first place). We especially like the Two Estates Meritage and the Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon. 1221 Duhig Road, Napa (707) 942-2455
Domaine Carneros – Founded by Champagne Taittinger, this beautiful 18th century château-style building has a lovely patio where they provide table service to visitors (and they are open until 6). We usually prefer the sparkling wines to the still wines, and our favorite here is Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs. 1240 Duhig Road, Napa (800) 716-2788
Etude Wines – You will find excellent Carneros Pinot Noir and Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon here. Open for regular tastings each day but they also offer wine and food pairing experiences with an appointment. 1250 Cuttings Wharf Road, Napa (877) 586-9361
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards – The first sparkling wine house in the Carneros region, established in 1986. The atmosphere here is a charismatic blend of vibrant Spanish tradition and casual Sonoma County elegance. Visitors have a choice of four different guided tours. The vintage Brut Rosé, vintage Blanc de Blancs, and the non-vintage VA de VI shine here. 23555 Arnold Drive, Sonoma (707) 933-1917
Jacuzzi Family Vineyards – Enjoy complimentary tastings of up to 5 different wines at the Villa here, and they do wonderful things with Italian varietals. Make sure to try the Vernaccia, Nero d’Avola, Sangiovese, and Barbera. 24724 Arnold Drive, Sonoma (707) 931-7575
McKenzie-Mueller Vineyards and Winery – Bob Mueller and Karen McKenzie lead this family operation which now produces about 3000 cases per year from grapes grown in two vineyards. The Oak Knoll region is a source for Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes, and the Carneros region vineyard is the source for white wine grapes as well as some red varietals. We highly enourage planning a trip in advance so you can make a reservation, and our recommendations on what to be sure to try are their Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot wines. 2530 Las Amigas Road, Sonoma (707-252-0186) [reservation required]
Saintsbury – Established in 1981 by David Graves and Richard Ward, Saintsbury invites their guests to sit in an English garden overlooking a portion of the estate vineyard while they experience a personalized hour of tasting five wines usually ranging from their Estate Carneros Chardonnay to some of their Vineyard Series Pinot Noirs. Personally, our favorites here are the Pinot Noirs, particularly the “Big George,” Stanly Ranch, and Toyon Farms. 1500 Los Carneros Avenue, Napa (707-252-0592) [reservation required]
Schug Carneros Estate – Walter Schug, founding winemaker at Joseph Phelps Vineyards in the 1970s, started his namesake winery in 1980. True to the region, the Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs here stand out. Our favorites include the Carneros Chardonnay, the Carneros Pinot Noir and the “Heritage Reserve” Pinot Noir. The Sauvignon Blanc also stood out for us.
Favorite Food Stops in Carneros
Boon Fly Cafe – Part of the Carneros Inn complex and a particularly good choice for breakfast. The coffee, donuts, and Boon Fly Benedict are worthwhile options here. 4048 Sonoma Highway, Napa (707) 299-4870.
Carneros Wine Alliance – Association of wineries and growers in the Carneros AVA dedicated to telling the story of the appellation, and to promote the distinction, diversity, and authenticity of this wine region.