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Five Fantastic Off-the-Beaten-Path Wineries and Their Neighbors

Photo by Donna Jones

There are lots of “off the beaten path” wineries that line the hills and mountains of Napa Valley and we’d like to introduce you to a few of the best. Here are five wineries that are well worth leaving your comfort zone to visit and some nearby recommendations to help plan a day in the neighborhood.

Arkenstone Vineyards' new tasting room doesn’t open to the public until November 1, but they are definitely not new to making wine or playing host. This family-owned and operated winery is up on Howell Mountain along with Cade and Viader, and is on par with these famous wineries when it comes to architecture, view, and tastiness. The volcanic rocks and obsidian-laden soils make for great flavors, and the grand caves and posh insider experience is balanced by the relaxed family members who lead all tours. Reserve ahead.

When I think of Hunnicutt Winery, I think: “easy." Everything about this forested winery, including the people, landscape, impressive new caves, and shiny winemaking facility has an easygoing vibe. The wines are affordable and the drive is quick, which means planning day trips is a breeze, because must-visits like VengeLarkmead and Chateau Boswell are nearby.  Reserve ahead.

Kenzo Estate Winery is owned by businessman and entrepreneur Kenzo Tsujimoto, founder of Capcom (yes the gaming mogul that brought us Street Fighter).  Kenzo wanted to "combine skillfully crafted wines with a beautiful Japanese artistry and aesthetic" and has been quoted saying that the quality of the land surrounding his estate “surpasses that of all other vineyards.” Although I’m not going to agree or disagree with that statement, I will say that you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t appreciate the quality of his wines and the beauty of the winery and its property. While you’re up there, check out neighbors Jarvis and Altamura. Reserve ahead.

Flora Springs is at the base of the Mayacamas Mountains near Hwy 29, but located at the very end of a windy road and far enough back that you’ll feel like you’re discovering something hidden and new. The clever and youthful staff is sure to spice things up while you wander the 13,500 square feet of hillside, caves, barrels, gardens, fruit trees, and bocce courts. Reservations are required, and don't confuse it with the Flora Spings Tasting Room on Hwy 29 in St. Helena. I recommend a spontaneous day of trying new things in the Rutherford region and up Zinfandel Lane–there are tons to choose from that don't require reservations. 

You might not consider Oakville Ranch off the beaten path if you are a local or visit frequently, but it’s on only a few peoples' radars. It's located on the Silverado Trail (the road less frequently traveled) and surrounded by wild grasses, meadows and woodlands. The winery is next to Oakville Crossroad so stop by Rudd and Gargiulo on your way back to the comforts of Hwy 29 or spend a day exploring the wineries of the Silverado Trail like Signorello Estate.

If you'd like to plan your own off the beaten path adventure, I recommend using GoVine.com. Please share your favorite hidden gems in the comment section below!