Drive along Napa Valley’s Highway 29 and you’ll see some of the most famous names in wine and their stately, often museum-like, buildings such as Opus One, Hall Wines, Robert Mondavi Winery, and Beringer, to name a few. During weekends and harvest, this route draws even more traffic. Napa Valley insiders will tell you to plan your visit for midweek and off-season to avoid the crowds.
Or, go off the beaten path to discover some “hidden gems” worth a visit for both their spectacular settings and wines. Here are five to check out; advance reservations are required.
Joseph Phelps Vineyards
One of the legendary names in Napa Valley wine history, Joseph Phelps was in the construction business before founding his namesake winery in 1973 on a former cattle ranch. Today, the family-owned winery has over 400 acres of vines in several AVAs (St. Helena, Stags Leap District, Oakville, Rutherford, Oak Knoll, South Napa, and Carneros). The main winery is off the Silverado Trail east of Highway 29 and the beautiful drive promises even better things to come. Visiting Joseph Phelps is like entering a private country club. Here you can taste his renowned Bordeaux blends including his signature wine, Insignia.
Joseph Phelps Vineyards | 200 Taplin Road, St. Helena | 800.707.5789 or 707.963.2745
Jericho Canyon Vineyards
This tucked away winery is located along the road to the old Silverado mine just outside Calistoga in a canyon surrounded by steep terraced vineyards that require an ATV to tour. Another former cattle ranch, proprietors Marla and Dale Bleecher found evidence of a pre-Prohibition vineyard when they acquired the property in the 1980s. Today, it produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.
Jericho Canyon Vineyards | 3322 Old Toll Road, Calistoga | 707.942.9665
Driving up Spring Mountain you’ll enter private gates to a spectacular estate with a priceless view ready to welcome royalty. Lokoya produces limited edition 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines from four of Napa’s most esteemed mountain appellations: Diamond Mountain, Howell Mountain, Mount Veeder, and Spring Mountain.
Lokoya | 3787 Spring Mountain Rd, St Helena | 707.948.1968
Tamber Bey Vineyards
If you see a cloud of steam shooting up from one of Calistoga’s hot springs, you know you’re getting close. Turn east off Highway 29 to find Tamber Bey located at Sundance Ranch. The wine production facility is also a world class equestrian center that is home to prized Arabian endurance race horses owned by proprietors Jennifer and Barry Waitte. Many of the wines have equestrian themed names such as “Deux Chevaux” (two horses). Visitors can taste Tamber Bey’s wines in the tasting room barn or outside in the courtyard surrounded by stables.
Tamber Bey Vineyards | 1251 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga | 707.942.2100
You’ll most likely be greeted by Moose and Bouzy Rouge, two Golden Labrador Retrievers, when you drive up the dusty road to Tres Sabores (Spanish for “three flavors”). It’s a certified organic winery whose owner and winemaker, Julie Johnson, is a passionate gardener and advocate for sustainable farming practices. The property is surrounded by blooming flowers, Meyer lemon bushes, olive and pomegranate trees, as well as rows of dry farmed vineyards. In the small ranch house or outside in the gardens you can savor signature wines including Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Syrah, Petit Verdot and a delicate rosé named after the Ingrid Bergman and Julia Child roses grown in Julie’s garden.
Tres Sabores | 1620 Whitehall Lane, St. Helena | 707.967.8027