During these crazy uncertain times, I am reflecting more on what brings me joy. My family (all the littles!), friends, cycling and, wine, of course. Thought I would share my Napa trip highlights and recommendations with you.

I am not a Cabernet girl, so Napa has never been high on my wine bucket list. But as a wine professional, of course, I also know that Napa grows more than just Cabernet. So when my group of friends planned a visit in January, I was happy to schedule the winery visits, making sure to find wineries that also specialized in Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

January is a great time to visit – less crowds and easy to get around. Just remember to always check and see if reservations are required.

Domain Carneros

Fantastic tasting of bubbles, or bubbles and Pinot, or just a Pinot flight. Really knowledgeable staff and a gorgeous view. A perfect way to start the trip.

Wine pick: 2013 Late Disgorged Brut Cuvée – five years on the lees gives this a fabulous toasty, brioche note.

Cliff Lede (pronounced “lady”)

This winery names its vineyard blocks after rock ‘n roll songs. Oh my gosh – there is just so much to love about that. The wines from Cliff Lede and its sister label FEL were fantastic.

Wine pick: 2017 FEL Chardonnay Anderson Valley – lemon zest, grapefruit and flint

Staglin Family Vineyard

A stunning winery with exceptional wines, but most impressive is the winery’s commitment to brain health research and other philanthropic causes. Since its 1985 beginning, it has donated and helped raise over $1 billion (with a B!) to support charities.

Wine pick: 2014 Staglin Family Estate Cabernet – cherry, raspberry, cedar and hint of mint

Taylor Family Vineyards

A small family-owned winery, off the beaten path, that offers a fabulous wine and cheese pairing tasting. Can’t wait for my 2019 Sauvignon Blanc to ship!

Wine pick: 2018 Sauvignon Blanc Yountville – tangerine, green apple, with nice acidity

Etude Wines

Known for Pinot Noir, Etude and its Fiddlestix (makes me chuckle) Vineyard Pinot did not disappoint. Super fun running into some Buffalo Gap Wine & Food Summit friends there!

Wine pick: 2017 Pinot Noir Carneros – dark cherry, raspberry, spice

Failla Wines

Nestled on sofas in a tiny sitting room, we tasted through two Chardonnays and three Pinots from winemaker and owner Ehren Jordan whose story hit home because he got his start at a wine store in Washington, DC (where I lived for 10 years) and was a sommelier in his younger years.

Wine pick: 2017 Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay – crisp, fresh apple and pear

Heitz Cellar

One of the first groups to do a tasting at its original estate, we enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc, Grignolino Rosé, and several Cabs from this organic and biodynamic winery.

Wine pick: 2013 Martha’s Vineyard, Oakville Cab – red and black fruit, sweet tobacco, leather and earth

Let’s not forget the food!

Gott’s Roadside was fantastic! We called ahead and picked up our order, skipping the lines!

You don’t want to miss the Oakville Grocery for its amazing sandwiches and its sweet little store.

And capping off our weekend: Bouchon in Yountville. Amazing food, service and wine. (Yes, I ordered Chablis!)

For transportation, we highly recommend Marty Paradise with Paradise Tours.

He knows his wineries and way around, not to mention, he’s a private chef and makes his own port!

Cheers,  Denise

Certified Wine Educator, WSET Advanced, Certified Sommelier, French Wine Scholar, Les Dames D’Escoffier Austin
Phone: (512) 587-5879
Email: denise@deniseclarkepr.com