The utterly romantic tasting table in the cave at Schramsberg. (Courtesy of winecountrytable.com)

9 Underground Wine Caves Open for Tastings in Napa + Sonoma

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In Wine Country, a cave is more than a cave: It's a magical place where wine quietly chills out to age gracefully.

Despite the ubiquity of world-class wine producers in Napa and Sonoma, wine caves—especially those that can be visited by the tasting public—are relatively few and far between. Head underground for a unique look at behind-the-scenes wine production and a taste from a classically aged barrel at these wineries (one of them even has a waterfall!).


Cellar 47 at Pine Ridge Vineyards.(Courtesy of Pine Ridge)

Pine Ridge Vineyards

The centerpiece of Pine Ridge Vineyards' network of hillside caves is Cellar 47, an elegant tasting venue decorated with soft lighting, inviting furnishings, and sculptures by the glass magician Dale Chihuly. In their exclusive Savor Pine Ridge wine and food pairing, wine educators take guests underground for a walk through five estate cabernet sauvignons—including the Howell Mountain Cab, with its lush, later-harvest flavors of cassis, blackberry, and dark chocolate—in one of Napa Valley's best cave tours. Small bites by winery chef Susan Lassalette are prepared to perfectly complement each sip ($125/person, reservations required at least 48 hours in advance). // 5901 Silverado Trail (Napa), pineridgevineyards.com


Schramsberg Vineyards

If you're considering popping the question to your S.O., a candlelit sparkling wine tasting in the historic, 125-year-old caves at Schramsberg, in the rolling hills above Calistoga, would be a golden opportunity. Here you'll learn the winery's Old World ways of producing bubbly in the methode champenoise, and may even be invited to try your hand at riddling the aging bottles. Tours are limited to just six guests, guaranteeing that each tasting is a perfectly intimate experience—go for the all sparkling experience ($80/person) or team three sparklers with three red wines from Davies Vineyards wines ($70/person). Don't miss out on the lesser known, toastier (and more expensive) J. Schram sparklers. Reservations are a must. // 1400 Schramsberg Rd. (Calistoga), schramsberg.com

The waterfall at the heart of Jarvis Estate's wine cave.(Courtesy of Jarvis Estate)

Jarvis Estate

If there were an award for most spectacular wine cave, Jarvis Estate would be hard to beat. The 45,000 square foot cave, dug in a curved parabola shape, is accented with cast bronze doors and wall sconces, arched alcoves, and fiber optic chandeliers. In the center, a natural underground water source has been harnessed into a cascading waterfall and stream. Following a tour of the underground operation, guests are seated in the tasting chamber to sample six of Jarvis' estate and reserve wines, such as the 2014 Reserve Merlot with hints of dark red fruits and oak on the finish. Reservations ($100/person Monday through Thursday and $125/person Friday through Sunday) are required. // 2970 Monticello Rd (Napa), jarviswines.com


Vine Cliff Winery

Vine Cliff has more than one tasting room in Napa County, but it's only at their historic estate on Silverado Trail where you'll get to travel underground to taste wines like the 2018 Oakville Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, a combination of plum and vanilla with scents of black cherry, licorice, violets, and crushed lavender. In Vine Cliff's 90-minute Legacy Estate Wasting Experience, guests tour the 100-acre property where winemaking began in the 1870 and the 15,000 square foot wine caves before tasting what's on offer along with a pairing of artisan cheeses ($85/person, reservations required). // 7400 Silverado Trail (Napa), vinecliff.com

The Thomas George Estates wine cave dressed up for a private event.(Courtesy of Thomas George Estates)

Thomas George Estates

A little over a decade ago, Russian River Valley wine pioneer Davis Bynum converted a hop kiln from the 1920s into a state-of-the-art wine making facility. In 2010, an 8,000 square foot wine cave was added as a barrel-aging and tasting/event space. In their luxurious Single Vineyard Tasting, guests get a taste of six wines such as the savory and classic 2016 Pinot Noir Baker Ridge Estate. The experience ends at the tasting table for an intimate underground pizza pairing ($60/person, reservations required. // 8075 Westside Rd (Healdsburg), thomasgeorgeestates.com


Gundlach Bundschu Winery

Gundlach Bundschu was making wine for a century before they added their French-inspired wine caves in the 1990s. Guests may choose between the Vineyard & Cave walking tour or the Pinzgauer tour ($85/person, plus 18 percent gratuity) in a cool Swiss Army transport vehicle that will take you through the historic vineyards. You'll sample five estate wines—including the 2018 Gundlach Bundschu Merlot with flavors of blueberry, black tea, cocoa, and spice—along with cheese and charcuterie. If the process of winemaking interests you as much as its taste, opt for the walking tour that runs 11am to 2pm daily ($65/person, plus 18 percent gratuity). // Reservations are required; 2000 Denmark St (Sonoma), gunbun.com

The mystical entrance to the cave at Bella Vineyards.(Courtesy of Bella Vineyards)

Bella Vineyards and Wine Caves

Enter the 7,000 square foot cave beneath Bella's historic Lily Hill vineyards for a tasting of wines like the crisp and refreshing 2020 Ru's Farm Sauvignon Blanc Growler, Fridays through Sundays ($30/person). Go a little more in depth with a private lawn tasting ($30), which guides guests through both the vineyards and caves and offers tastings among the aging barrels. // 9711 W Dry Creek Rd (Healdsburg), bellawinery.com


Benziger Family Winery

Benziger is a two-time winner of Wine Enthusiast's people's choice award for the best winery tour—and the people were not wrong. In the Tribute Estate Tour and Tasting ($75/person), guests get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the estate's biodynamically farmed vineyards, winery and wine caves. The tour ends with a seated tasting of wines in a semi-private underground room. // 1883 London Ranch Rd (Glen Ellen), benziger.com


Del Dotto Winery

Del Dotto has not one but two wine caves—one on the St. Helena Estate, the other at the historic winery in Napa. The Napa property, restored in the late 1990s by the Del Dotto family, was one of the Valley's first wineries and its caves date back to the 1880s. At the St. Helena estate, which opened in 2007, the caves are far more opulent with chandeliers and wine sconce that would be at home in a Medieval castle. While the Napa winery's cave is temporarily closed, wine lovers can take a 90-minute cave tour and barrel tasting of eight wines in St. Helena. A small pizza pairing is on offer ($80-120/person, reservations required). // 1055 Atlas Peak Rd (Napa) or 1445 St. Helena Hwy (St. Helena), deldottovineyards.com

The historic wine caves at Del Dotto Winery.(Courtesy of Del Dotto Winery)

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