Spring Mountain and St. Helena

St. Helena Highway near Beringer Family Vineyards

St. Helena Highway near Beringer Family Vineyards

St. Helena wines are more than able to stand their ground next to wines from Mt. Veeder, Howell Mountain, and Calistoga.  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. Visiting the estate provides a glimpse into Napa Valley’s past preserved for enjoyment today. If you are looking for a Napa Valley historic winery tour, Beringer is an excellent choice. 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 

Brasswood Estate – This “lifestyle property” offers visitors the chance to wine taste and/or tour their wine caves (17,000 square feet of them) on a 52-acre campus housing multiple tasting rooms, a custom crush state-of-the-art winery, and separate onsite restaurant and café establishments (each with a bar) which are collectively open from 8 am to 9 pm.  You’ll also have a chance to shop at a Bottleshop + Mercantile store selling luxury goods, wine and liquor.  The tasting room offers a Signature Tasting to walk-in visitors, or additional tasting experiences are available with a reservation.  Our favorite wines here include the Estate Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.   3111 St. Helena Highway North, St. Helena  (707) 968-5434

Charles Krug Winery – Founded by Charles Krug in 1861, this became California’s first tasting room when he opened it to the public in 1882.  With over 150 years of winemaking experience, the winery has been stewarded by C. Mondavi and Family since 1943.  The Estate Tasting features five small-lot estate wines paired with small bites from the winery’s Cucina di Rosa Salumeria.  The 90-minute Tour and Tasting experience is offered weekday mornings, educating you about the history of the property and its owners, as you explore the property’s farm-to-table garden, and the historic Redwood Cellar.  This experience also includes tastes of wines and small bites.  Our favorite wines here are the Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley Merlot, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon.  2800 Main Street, St. Helena  (707) 967-2229  [reservations available but not required for walk-in tastings at tasting bar, tour and tasting experience requires a reservation]

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. 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]

Crocker & Starr – Charlie Crocker purchased the estate in 1971, joined forces with winemaker Pam Starr in 1997 to form this winery, and they recently created a delicious “Stone Place” Cabernet Sauvignon to commemorate where they met to start this partnership.  The estate is all sustainably farmed and the annual “Carnivus Maximus” is a fun party celebrating current and past vintages.  Our favorites here include the Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec (“Canali”) and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Regardless of whether you opt for the tasting experience on the farmhouse porch, a vineyard stroll and seated tasting, or a guided pairing of artisan cheeses and charcuterie with the estate wines, you’ll need a reservation.  700 Dowdell Lane, St. Helena  (707) 967-9111

Ehlers Estate – There’s a lovely story here about how the original 42-acre property was established in 1885, then broken into smaller parcels over time and separated into different individual owners’ hands, until new owners were able to reconstruct the entire original property. Generally speaking, the wines are made in a Bordeaux style while still embracing the wonderful Napa Valley fruit grown on the estate.  Some of our personal favorites include the “1886” Cabernet Sauvignon, the “Portrait” red wine blend (primarily Cabernet Sauvignon), Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Sylviane Rosé (made from Cabernet Franc). 100% of the proceeds from the sale of Ehlers Estate wines are returned to the Leducq Foundation to support international cardiovascular and neurovascular research. 3222 Ehlers Lane, St. Helena, (707) 963-5972  

El Molino – Founded in 1871, this is one of the first wineries in Napa Valley and the label still reflects the original design of the Bale Grist Mill (“El Molino”).  Lily Oliver Berlin originally moved to the property when she was nine years old.  Her husband, Jon Berlin, has previously worked as winemaker for Viader and consulted for other wineries.  Together, Lily and Jon craft a limited production of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines using traditional winemaking techniques, from grapes grown at their Star Vineyards in Rutherford.  We are huge fans of both the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir here.  3315 St. Helena Highway North, St. Helena  (707) 963-3632  [reservation required]

Freemark Abbey – Another Napa Valley winery steeped in history, this one was started by the first female Napa winery owner on record (Josephine Tychson) back in 1886.  Later, in 1939, three businessmen purchased the property and coined the Freemark Abbey name by combining their names: Charles Freeman, Marquand Foster and Albert “Abbey” Ahern.  The property was sold again in 1967 to a group of seven partners.  The tasting room was remodeled and reopened in 2016 and we’ve always found great customer service here.   Our favorite wines include the Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon and the Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon.  We also highly recommend the Cabernet Bosché, one of the earliest vineyard-designated wines in California with its first vintage harvested in 1970.  3022 St. Helena Highway North, St. Helena  (800) 963-9698 

Joseph Phelps Vineyards – This family winery may be best known for their Insignia, California’s first proprietary red Bordeaux-style blend. However, the winery also produces other wonderful wines including Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. All wines in the Joseph Phelps portfolio are made from 100% estate-grown fruit from vineyards in Napa Valley and the western Sonoma Coast. 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 include the Sauvignon Blanc, Pastorale Vineyard Chardonnay, Freestone Vineyards Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and their dessert wine Eisrebe.  200 Taplin Road, St. Helena  (800) 707-5789  [reservation required]

Long Meadow Ranch – Owned by Ted, Laddie and Christopher Hall, Long Meadow Ranch is a collection of 5 properties in Napa Valley, Anderson Valley and West Marin.  Napa Valley properties include 16 acres of vineyards in the Mayacamas Mountains where Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc are grown, and 74 acres on the Rutherford Estate are planted to Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. LMR’s Anderson Valley Estate has 69 acres planted to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.  LMR’s diverse estate is also home to over 500 varietals of organic heirloom fruits and vegetables, as well as beehives and chickens.  Our favorite wines here include the Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé of Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir Blanc, Anderson Valley Pinot Noir, Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon and both of the Tanbark Mill Vineyard Pinot Noirs (Pinole and Perrygulch Block Selections).  Tasting experiences include seated wine tasting, food and wine pairings, olive oil tastings, and/or a visit to the mountain winery and caves on the Mayacamas estate.  In St. Helena, tastings take place in the Farmstead General Store daily (and the excellent Farmstead restaurant is onsite as well).  In Anderson Valley, tastings take place at The Madrones in Philo but only Thursdays through Mondays (and they also offer Stumptown Coffee espresso drinks).   738 Main Street, St. Helena  (707) 963-4555 and 9000 Highway 128, Philo  (707) 963-4555

Paloma Vineyard – Lcoated at the top of Spring Mountain, at elevations ranging from 2060 feet to 2240 feet, this small family winery produces stunning Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.  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. Barbara and Jim Richards have passed on, but their son Sheldon continues their legacy. 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. Three generations of Pragers are currently involved in the crafting of their premium ports. The tasting room is rustic, casual, friendly and funky.  The Alyssa Golden Dry Port and Noble Companion Tawny Port are what we like the most.   1281 Lewelling Lane, St. Helena  (707) 963-7678  [reservation required] 

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. The tasting room feels like a well-appointed mountain lodge and the property also features over 23,000 square feet of subterranean caves.  Excellent Viognier, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon can be found here.  4026 Spring Mountain Road, St. Helena  (707) 963-4949  [reservation required]

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. The vineyard at Salvestrin has been farmed sustainably for over 80 years and holistic guidelines have been used since 2006, all culminating with the winery and vineyard earning a Napa Green certification. We especially like the Sauvignon Blanc, Sangiovese, Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Retaggio (a Sangiovese-based Super Tuscan blend) here the most.   397 Main Street (Highway 29), St. Helena  (707) 963-5105 [reservation required]

Smith-Madrone Vineyards and Winery – This is a hidden gem, offering outstanding wines and a nostalgic tasting experience in a beautiful natural setting. Founded by Stuart Smith, Smith-Madrone has been producing top quality wines since its first vintage in 1977. The winery sits on top of Spring Mountain, with elevations between 1,300 and 2,000 feet, surrounded by natural beauty and wildlife. They produce Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Riesling wines, and when the vintage is superior, a proprietary Bordeaux blend called Cook’s Flat Reserve. Smith-Madrone’s wines are made entirely from the winery’s estate vineyards and we’ll confess, we like them all.   4022 Spring Mountain Road, St. Helena  (707) 963-2283 [reservation required]

Tudal Winery – The Tudal family draws upon four generations of growing and winemaking experience to create a portfolio of limited-production fine wines.  In 1912, George “Bacci” Cerruti emigrated from Italy to California and began a produce company in the East Bay.  His daughter Alma married Arnold Tudal and ​Tudal Winery was founded in 1974 when the couple purchased ten acres in northern Napa Valley.  Their children John, Marilyn, and Janet now own the winery which is best known for its Cabernet Sauvignon wines and we heartily recommend their Clift Vineyard, Estate and Old Vine Estate Cabernet Sauvignons.  We are also impressed by their Pope Canyon Ranch Sauvignon Blanc, Chevlen Vineyard Chardonnay and Charbono.  1015 Big Tree Road, St. Helena  (707) 963-3947 [reservation required] 


Favorite Food Stops in Spring Mountain and St. Helena

Acacia House – Housed in the Alila Napa Valley hotel, this fine dining option headed by Executive Chef Chris Cosentino offers a modern twist on classic dishes.  You can’t go wrong starting with the house Margarita which comes with Sea Salt Foam and Lime Zest.  Ice-Cold Crudités are paired with evolving dips  such as Tuscan Bean Pesto or Sunflower Seed Hummus.  Dinner options also change seasonally, but we were very impressed by a Sweet Pea Rigatoni with Morels and Crème Fraiche, and a Cornish Game Hen with Roasted Grapes and Turnips.  Desserts, including a Tres Leches Cake from Pastry Chef Curtis Cameron were also outstanding.  Acacia House is now open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.  1915 Main Street, St. Helena  (707) 963-9004      

Brasswood Bar + Bakery, Brasswood Bar + KitchenBrasswood Estate has two onsite dining options. The Bar + Bakery Café opens at 8 am where Executive Pastry Chef Mai Nguyen bakes fresh goods such as Cream Puffs, Fig and Blackberry Tart and Red Velvet Cupcakes. Warm Breakfast items include a Breakfast Burrito and a Breakfast Sandwich and the Lunch menu includes Salads, Panini, and Sandwiches.  The Café also has a full liquor license. The Bar + Kitchen Restaurant is headed by Executive Chef David Nuno featuring a Ribeye Burger with Cambozola, Butter Lettuce and Pasilla Aioli accompanied by Truffle Fries.  You’ll also find pasta dishes such as Spaghetti with Mussels and Clams, Herb Infused Pappardelle and Short Rib Sugo , and Four Cheese Risotto with Duck Leg Confit.  3111 St. Helena Highway North, St. Helena  (707) 968-5434

The Charter Oak – A new restaurant from Christopher Kostow and Nathaniel Dorn, The Charter Oak is centered on a celebratory, family-style dining experience with simple, approachable, and seasonal food.  The dining room has line of sight onto a wood-burning hearth and your table provides a personal cutlery drawer.  Our favorites here included a Summer Tomato Tartine, Grilled Cucumbers with Dill, Fresh Cheese Malfatti, Grilled Beef Rib with Beets, and Pavlova with Olive Oil Pudding and Fresh Strawberry Jam.  1050 Charter Oak Avenue, St Helena  (707) 302-6996

Clif Family Bruschetteria Food Truck –  Chef John McConnell has taken a “farm to truck” approach to cooking up amazing bites, based on the freshest ingredients possible from the Clif Family farm and trusted local purveyors.  The truck is usually parked next to the winery serving an ever-changing menu of bruschetta, farm fresh salads and seasonal sides.  We highly recommend the bruschetta here including the Porchetta, Formaggi and Funghi versions.  The Rosemary and Lemon Roasted Chicken with Salsa Verde is available to purchase whole or as a half-chicken, and you should really consider the Chocolate Cookies.  Open 11:30 am to 4 pm Tuesday through Sunday, until 7 pm on Wednesday.  709 Main Street, St. Helena  (707) 301-7188

Cook St. Helena – This comfortable, unpretentious restaurant on St. Helena’s main drag is small but is usually packed due to the delicious food.  Chef/Owner Jude Wilmoth opened Cook in 2004 to show that food doesn’t have to be complicated to taste great, and his expansion into Cook Tavern & Pizzeria next door proves his success.  There’s a small menu here, but the Fried Calamari, Fetuccine Vongole and Braised Short Ribs are sure bets if you are hungry.  1310 Main Street, St. Helena  (707) 963-7088

Farmstead – Guided by Executive Chef Stephen Barber, the farmhouse cuisine here showcases ingredients fresh from the Long Meadow Ranch farm, ranch and vineyards.  In the morning, the Café offers house-made pastries, panini and Stumptown coffee.  For Lunch and Dinner, the menu offerings include Wood-Grilled Artichoke, Arugula Salad, Blackened Trout, and a Grass-Fed Cheeseburger.  Nightly dinner specials include Meatloaf (Mondays), Fried Chicken (Tuesdays) and Grass-Fed Lamb (Wednesdays).  The weekday (4 – 6 pm) Happy Hour menu includes $7 well drinks and an extensive list of small plates including Pimento Cheese Dip, Barbecued Oysters, Pulled Pork Nachos, and Mac and Cheese.  Our favorite dishes here include the Mini Ham Sandwiches with Pepper Jelly, Grass-Fed Beef Meatballs and a Pulled Pork Sandwich.  738 Main Street, St. Helena  (707) 963-4555

Gott’s Roadside – This local institution originally established its fame for gourmet burgers and fries under the name “Taylor’s Refresher”.  The menu is full of American roadside favorites and California classics made to order using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.  The beverage menu includes glasses of wine, craft beers, or you can match your cheeseburger and fries with an excellent shake made with Three Twins’ ice cream.  This is the original location – there are now four other branches in downtown Napa, San Francisco, Palo Alto and the San Francisco airport.  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.  The breakfast menu (including several Breakfast Sandwiches) is available until noon and the lunch menu includes sandwiches made to order as well as pre-made and ready-to-go. Karen Mitchell purchased the business in 1984 and the Model Bakery Cookbook was released in 2013, including their famous English Muffin recipe.  In 2008, Model Bakery opened a second location at the Oxbow Market in Napa.  1357 Main Street, St. Helena  (707) 963-8192

Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company – The Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company first opened its doors in Napa in 1985 and added a second location in St. Helena in 1991.  They roast their coffee in 20-pound batches, ensuring the highest possible quality, and carry nine single-origin coffees from Indonesia, Africa, and the Americas.  The Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company creates signature blends for Napa Valley’s prestigious restaurants and wineries as well as proprietary blends for non-profit organizations and charities.  Open daily until 7 pm for walk-in customers, you can also purchase their coffee online and/or join their Coffee Club for monthly shipments.  1400 Oak Avenue, St. Helena  (707) 963-4491 or 948 Main Street, Napa  (707) 224-2233

Pizzeria Tra Vigne – Come here for authentic and handmade Neapolitan pizzas, expertly cooked in a brick oven, for lunch or dinner seven days a week.  House specialties include a Funghi Pizza with Wild Mushrooms, Fontina Cheese and Truffle Oil, or a Fig Pizza with Gorgonzola and Arugula.  Or, you can create your own starting with ingredients such as Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Tuscan Salami, Chicken, or Prosciutto.  Pizzeria Tra Vigne also offers a selection of fresh salads and house made pastas including Nonna’s Spaghetti and “Tra Vigne” Ravioli.  1016 Main Street, St. Helena  (707) 967-9999

Villa Corona – Ismael and Guillermina Villasenor immigrated from Mexico, moved to Napa, and opened “Villa Azteca” in 1972.  Eventually, the name was changed to Villa Corona and today the family business is operated by their children.  This is a reliable choice for reasonably priced, authentic Mexican food made with fresh ingredients in a casual atmosphere.  Aim for the Burritos, Enchiladas, and Tacos, and the Machaca Burrito for Breakfast here (or at their locations in Napa or Vacaville).  1138 Main Street, St. Helena  (707) 963-7812 

Woodhouse Chocolate – This artisan chocolates and confections store uses only the highest quality nuts, cream, butter and spices they can find for their beautiful handmade creations.  Fresh Mint Chocolates, Praline Noisette Chocolates, Dark Chocolate Gooey Caramel Pecan Clusters and Chocolate Caramels with Fleur de Sel are among our personal favorites.  Even if you don’t want to buy, you should at least walk over and check out the impressive and beautiful window displays in a historic 1890’s stone and brick building.  1367 Main Street, St. Helena  (800) 966-3468

Other Links for Spring Mountain and St. Helena 

Spring Mountain District Association – A nonprofit association of over 30 family owned and operated wineries and growers in the Spring Mountain AVA.

Appellation St. Helena – A nonprofit organization of wineries and grapegrowers dedicated to encouraging and promoting the highest quality standards in grape growing and wine making in the St. Helena American Viticultural Area (AVA), and to gain recognition for the oustanding quality ot St. Helena wines through education of the membership and the public.

Napa Valley Vintners – A nonprofit trade association, of over 525 members, that champions Napa Valley as the premier wine region in the world and has a mission to promote, protect and enhance the Napa Valley appellation.


Cook on Urbanspoon
Gott's Roadside on UrbanspoonModel Bakery on Urbanspoon
Restaurant at Meadowood on UrbanspoonTra Vigne on UrbanspoonVilla Corona on Urbanspoon


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