So many wineries, so little time. With so many great places you could visit, how do you narrow the options? Here’s a winning day trip on which you’ll enjoy exquisite wines in three of the most relaxing, enchanting and exclusive settings in Napa Valley.
Start your day at Stags’ Leap, which has fixed tasting appointments at 10 and 2:30 daily. A quick phone call a day or two ahead nets you a seated tasting in a captivating setting under the bluffs of the Stags Leap Palisades. Visitors tour the historic Manor House, a two-story stone structure with a corner castle-like tower built with rocks from a local quarry in 1891.
Stags’ Leap wine educators will guide you through a flight of five wines. The winery, best known for its elegant Petite Syrah, also produces Viognier, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The 90 acres of estate vineyards surrounding the Manor House are largely planted to Petite Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. These estate grapes are featured in “The Leap,” the winery’s most collectible Cabernet Sauvignon.
After a leisurely lunch in nearby Yountville or St. Helena (see the dining guide in this magazine), go to St. Clement Vineyards. Here you’ll find more rich Napa Valley history as well as six wonderful single-vineyard Cabernets and the iconic Bordeaux-style blend, Oroppas. St. Clement’s main tasting room is in a classic Gothic Victorian built in 1878 by stained glass merchant Fritz Rosenbaum. Architecture buffs will appreciate this remarkable building, which has been meticulously restored to the finest detail.
Eight of the 13 wines produced by St. Clement are only available at the winery. These include single-vineyard Cabernets from Howell Mountain, Diamond Mountain, Mount Veeder and Rutherford. The winery-only wines are featured in the Reserve Room behind the main house, where you can taste indoors or enjoy table-side service on the terrace.
Wrap up your day at Etude, the distinguished producer of estate-grown Pinot Noir in Carneros. Etude (which means study in French) was founded in 1982 by legendary winemaker Tony Soter as a study in the craft of making Pinot Noir, considered by many winemakers the most difficult grape. Etude now makes several superb Pinot Noirs from an estate vineyard located at the foot of Sonoma Mountain.
Etude’s beautiful, contemporary tasting room is now open to the public daily. Guests can enjoy a flight at the tasting bar or on the patio. The winery also offers for tasting exceptional Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Rosé plus three simply magnificent Cabernet Sauvignons.
Itinerary For A Great Day In Napa Valley
Where To Taste:
Stags’ Leap Winery, 6150 Silverado Trail, Napa, (near Yountville), www.stagsleap.com; 800-395-2441. Open by appointment only, with daily set appointments at 10 AM and 2:30 PM
St. Clement Vineyards. 2867 Saint Helena Hwy North, St. Helena, www.stclement.com; 707-963-7221. Open daily 10 AM to 5 PM
Etude Wines, 1250 Cuttings Wharf Road, Napa, www.etudewines.com; 707-257-5300. Open daily 10 AM to 4:30 PM, with seated reserve tastings by appointment at 10 AM, 1 PM and 3 PM
Where To Eat:
Bistro Jeanty, 6510 Washington St., Yountville; 707-944-0103. Claiming to be the only French owned and operated restaurant in the Napa Valley, this bistro features classic dishes such as mussels au vin rouge, cassoulet, and Chef Philippe Jeanty’s special tomato soup.
Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, 1327 Railroad Ave, St. Helena, 707-963-1200. This upscale eatery has become a beloved destination for locals and visitors alike. It features a menu of delicious, cooked-from-scratch cuisine created from quality ingredients.