When visiting Napa, sometimes you want to get dolled up and be treated like royalty and other times you just want to keep it casual. Here are some of my favorite tasting experiences for the times when you want to sip excellent wines in your t-shirt and jeans.
ZD has a whole lot of history and with that, a quiet confidence and charm. They offer a cycling tour that includes a brunch made by family member/president Brett DeLeuze that’s served on their vineyard-view deck. I highly recommend the Chardonnay.
Hourglass Vineyards is not only a state-of-the-art beauty but lives almost completely within a sparsely decorated cave. They made this list because Jeff Smith, musician and founder, is about as cool and down-to-earth as they come. He’s extremely knowledgeable and relates to his guests on an individual level.
Zahtilia specializes in Zin and Cab but owner Laura Zahtlila and the homey, relaxed feel are what makes this place special. The grounds — covered in gardens and flowers — make you feel like you're in the middle of the country.
Nils Venge and his son, Kirk, both offer very down to earth tasting experiences at their respective wineries. Visit Nils at Saddleback Cellars and enjoy a relaxed picnic table-tasting in the vines with no rush, no expectations and a bevy of quality wines to choose from. At Venge Vineyards, Kirk has a newly- remodeled, stylish house for tastings and a brand new wine facility; but the architecture and feel remain relaxed so that you'll be confortable no matter what your mood or attire.
Farella Vineyards in Coombsville has a simple dirt road leading up to a large but modest winery that’s filled with barrels, surrounded by trees and is without the frills you might expect from a winery that makes such high-end vino. The owner, Tom Farella, will likely be there and has specialized in food-friendly wines and doing things his own way for over 25 years.
At Titus Vineyards you can choose between a tasting patio in a vintage house or a picnic table under the tress. Dump what you don’t drink right there on the dirt and chat with the pourers, who are just as approachable as the wines and prices.
20-rows, located in downtown Napa, has a posh tasting room and a topnotch wines, but without the hoity-toity vibe. It’s family-owned and operated and you'll be guided through the wines, the barrels and all the other cool stuff you’d expect out of a private tour without the “private” prices.
What are your favorites? Let us know in the comments