Ridiculous views are just one perk of wine tasting atop Napa Valley's iconic mountain appellations. These wineries promise big, complex wines that benefit from volcanic and sedimentary soils, elevation, and extra vitamin D—and many of them get better with age. Just plan ahead, as all of these tastings are by appointment. (Hint: No crowds.)
Diamond Mountain District
(Courtesy of Schramsberg)
The farthest north of the four mountain appellations, overlooking Calistoga, Diamond Mountain receives the most affection from the sun, though it's still moderately cooler than the valley floor. The mountain's rocky, volcanic soil stresses the vines, making them work overtime—but it's worth it for the resulting big, bold and structured reds, best poured after a lengthy stay in your cellar.
Like most of Diamond Mountain, it's all about cabernet sauvignon at Von Strasser (1510 Diamond Mountain Rd., Calistoga). Taste a selection of both New- and Old World–style cab in the petite, no frills tasting room, and don't leave without asking for a sampling of the grüner veltliner, a dry white wine that grows almost exclusively in Austria.
Next door, you'll find Reverie (1520 Diamond Mountain Rd., Calistoga), where tastings can take place beneath the branches of a mystical redwood grove. Cabernet franc is what they're known for, but look for a few fun and rare varietals.
The best bubbly in Napa Valley can be found at Schramsberg (1400 Schramsberg Rd., Calistoga), which has been poured at prestigious White House functions since the short-lived Nixon administration. Walk through the historic, 125-year-old caves, get a lesson in riddling, and sip the sparkling nectar of the gods.