With hundreds of wineries to choose from and experiences that range from hoity-toity tastings to off-road excursions, it's tough to give Napa fist-timers a balanced sampling of the valley. That said, here are six wineries that will give you a nice blend of the best the area has to offer in a weekend:
Viader exemplifies the valley’s elegant, personal, private, experiences — and you'll get a beautiful view of the valley from their mountainside tasting room. This family-owned and operated winery has a range of varietals and a great reputation for their bold reds. Their Tempranillo has been garnering a lot of buzz in the valley as of late.
Chateau Montelena is one of the most famous wineries in Napa Valley for good reason — this Calistoga landmark and grandiose chateau makes a Chardonnay that arguably put Napa Valley on the map. With vast grounds to explore, they offer a diverse range of experiences. You’ll leave with a taste for the Calistoga AVA and a piece of valley history. Their Zin is one of my favorites.
Tres Sabores, longtime leader in the organic and eco-movement, is your opportunity to show visitors a wine cave and check out the off-the-beaten path, green, and “farmy” side of Napa.
Silverado Vineyards is not off-the-beaten-path but rather on the “road less traveled”: The Silverado Trial. Though there are many famous vineyards and wineries on The Trail, it’s often missed by travelers who stick to the more popular Highway 29. Silverado Vineyards offers an expansive view of the valley (opposite vantage point from Viader) and has lively afternoon and evening patio tastings with a range of good wines.
Page Cellars has guitars on the walls and lava lamps to match the rock-and-roll themed motif. They make big red wines with heart and conviction. Though this is their tasting room and not the full-on winery, their location in the middle of Yountville allows you to walk to a variety of spots and into some of the most famous restaurants in the valley.
Vintners Collective has a modern, youthful feel and is the perfect reason to bring your guests to Downtown Napa, which is growing in leaps and bounds. Collectives like this one are a great way to taste similar varietals from different wineries and be exposed to some of the boutique wineries and labels of the valley that lack their own tasting rooms. Try as many wines as you want at the collective and then bounce to 20 Rows, the only actual winery in downtown Napa.
Peruse 7x7's Napa Page to plan a custom trip for your crew, read Sparkling Wine: A Tour of Napa Valley if you’re looking for bubbles and check out this article if you’ve got a late-night crowd on your hands.