Napa Travel Guide
If you’ve come to this part of the state, odds are that wine tasting tops your list of what to do in Napa. To break up the trips to tasting rooms, there are plenty other classic things to do in Napa:
The castle-like Beringer winery, in Helena, is the oldest operating winery in Napa, having been founded in 1876, and which produced sacramental wine during Prohibition. The winery still has its hand-chiseled rock tunnels for cellaring, and its Rhine house, which is filled with Belgian art-nouveau furniture made from oak and walnut trees.
Hot air ballooning is one of the most thrilling (but non-wine-related) things to do in Napa. You can get an astonishing and scenic view over the city and the Lake Barryessa.
The town of Calistoga has been famous since the 1800s for its toasty mud baths, made from volcanic ash and fabulous natural hot springs. The town’s name was born when a wine-lover tried to call the area the “Saratoga of California” and got slurry.
If you stick to the side roads, biking can be a wonderful way to explore the beauty of wine country. Calistoga Bike Shop is a good place to start, as they can arrange packages that include rentals, maps, wine-tasting appointments, lunch reservations, and (if you need it) roadside assistance, for around $80 per person.
The 40,000-square-foot Oxbow Public Market, has everything from heirloom apples to wines made on-site at Folio Enoteca & Winery. The $11 million gourmet mall is the pet project of Steve Carlin, former manager of San Francisco's Ferry Building marketplace.
You can blend three varietals into a barrel—that’s the equivalent of 288 bottles, which can be shipped home after a year of aging. (lessons from $195, plus $6,500 per barrel)
At its foundation, Shafer is a relationship between father and son, as are a number of Napa Valley wineries. John Shafer, who abandoned a successful career in the publishing industry, and his son Doug, who graduated from UC Davis, have been operating Shafer together since 1983.
Surrounded by two lakes and mountains blanketed with sequoia trees, this organic vineyard is situated on a 1.9-acre parcel of land that was once part of the Aetna Springs Resort, a popular vacation destination in the late 19th century.
With its strikingly modern landscaping and architecture, this property at first looks more like a museum (or perhaps a James Bond film location) than a winery.
Being that William Jarvis studied physics and electronics at UC Berkeley, it seems appropriate that his winery is not only one of the most technologically advanced in Napa but also environmentally efficient by way of solar power. The entire facility, from fermentation tanks to bottling machinery,
As part of the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, the Rudd Center provides a variety of wine-related courses and programs for both professionals and casual oenophiles.
Decades after winning first place at the 1976 Judgment of Paris wine tasting, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars is still highly respected for its Cabernet Sauvignons. Located just off the Silverado Trail, the winery has two adjoining vineyards as well as a $5 million cave system that houses operations.
The Green Spa Network property has a worm-bin composting program that literally eats trash.
Inspired by her international art education, Napa native Gretchen Kimball founded Alla Prima Studio as a way to bring both novice and experienced artists together to absorb and paint her hometown’s landscape.
Pinot noir thrives in Napa Valley’s Carneros region—a reason that this winery has succeeded in revolutionizing the California wine industry since its inception in 1981.
Established by siblings Anette and Brent Madsen, this downtown sweet shop is housed in a yellow-walled, wood-floored space that was formerly Patrick’s candy store.
Four miles northeast of downtown St. Helena, Andrew Lane winery doubles as the personal residence of owner Andrew Dickson. Established in 1978 by Andrew’s father Dave, the winery is now a professional 2,000-case business run by chief winemaker Andrew and his brother Lane.
Getting to this mountaintop winery, which lies at the end of several winding, wooded country roads, can be a bumpy ride; by the time you pull up to the ivy-covered, historic stone winery building, you’ll be ready to sit still for a while.