Napa and Sonoma

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Napa and Sonoma - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Aonair Wines

    A long, sometimes narrow road meanders east from the Silverado Trail through Conn Valley to this 17-acre Howell Mountain estate. Grant Long Jr., its resourceful proprietor, made his first batch of wine while still a teen. After proving his mettle at a few Napa wineries, he started his own label. While guests sip wines on the cliffside tasting room's lofty deck, taking in views of vineyard rows sloping sharply into the valley, uniformly cheery staffers fill in the details of Long's compelling wine journey. Cabernet Sauvignon and the Mountains Proprietary Blend, both Napa Valley, and a Sierra Foothills Grenache-heavy blend stand out among a mostly reds lineup. The appointment-only winery advises making a reservation at least a month ahead. Tastings and the wines are reasonably priced—how Long manages this in America's costliest growing region is part of the Aonair (pronounced "ay-oh-nair") mystique.

    647 Greenfield Rd., St. Helena, California, 94574, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Contact winery for tasting fee, Closed Sun. and Mon.
  • 2. Aperture Cellars

    As a youth, Jesse Katz tagged along with his photographer father, Andy Katz, to wineries worldwide, stimulating curiosity about wine that led to stints at august operations like the Napa Valley's Screaming Eagle and Bordeaux's Petrús. In 2009, still in his 20s, Katz started Aperture, a success from the get-go for his single-vineyard Cabernets and Bordeaux blends. Among the whites are Sauvignon Blanc and an old-vine Chenin Blanc that's one of California's best. Katz's wines, which benefit from rigorous farming and cellar techniques, are presented by appointment only in an ultracontemporary hospitality center about 2½ miles south of Healdsburg Plaza. One tasting explores Aperture's various wine-growing sites and their soils, the other the single-vineyard wines. The center's shutterlike windows and other architectural elements evoke Andy Katz's photography career; his images of the Russian River Valley and beyond hang on the walls.

    12291 Old Redwood Hwy., Healdsburg, California, 95448, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings from $60, Closed Tues. and Wed.
  • 3. Arista Winery

    Brothers Mark and Ben McWilliams own this winery specializing in small-lot Pinot Noirs that was founded in 2002 by their parents. The sons have raised the winery's profile in several ways, most notably by hiring winemaker Matt Courtney, who has earned high praise from Wine Spectator and other publications for his balanced, richly textured Pinot Noirs. Courtney shows the same deft touch with Arista's Chardonnays. Appointment-only introductory tastings focus on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and the family's sustainable farming practices; another session examines the single-vineyard wines. The property's Japanese garden predates the winery.

    7015 Westside Rd., Healdsburg, California, 95448, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings from $35
  • 4. Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve

    Here's your best opportunity in the western Wine Country to wander amid Sequoia sempervirens, also known as coast redwood trees. The oldest example in this 805-acre state park, the Colonel Armstrong Tree, is thought to be more than 1,400 years old. A half mile from the parking lot, the tree is easily accessible, and you can hike a long way into the forest before things get too hilly. During hot summer days, Armstrong Redwoods's tall trees help the park keep its cool.

    17000 Armstrong Woods Rd., Guerneville, California, 95446, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $10 per vehicle, free to pedestrians and bicyclists
  • 5. AXR Napa Valley

    Three entrepreneur-investor types established AXR with a winemaker-partner, Jean Hoefliger, who describes a vineyard as "the soul of a wine" and his job in the cellar "to create an emotion." Hoefliger, who in 2021 completed a 15-year run with the Napa Valley's Alpha Omega Winery, crafts multilayer Chardonnays from sourced grapes (including an often highly rated entrant from Sonoma County's Ritchie Vineyard) and dense yet supple 100% Cabernet Sauvignons. The Cabs come from notable sites like Sleeping Lady in Yountville, Denali in St. Helena, and the estate V Madrone Vineyard. Hosts at one-on-one tastings convey the passion, science, and experience underlying Hoefliger's wines and the history of the redwood-studded AXR property. Some sessions unfold in a renovated barn, others in an 1876 house once part of a pre-Prohibition restaurant and inn that thrived here.

    3199 St. Helena Hwy. N (Hwy. 29), St. Helena, California, 94574, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings from $90
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  • 6. Bacchus Landing

    The small wineries of this energetic collective pour mostly Sonoma County wines inside and on patios of Spanish Mediterranean–style buildings bordering a large piazza. Music, art, and culinary events lend the dog- and kid-friendly space a village-square feel. Smith Story, Convene by Dan Kosta, Dot Wine, and Montagne-Russe make Pinot Noir; visiting more than one reveals the roles of clones, locations, farming, and cellar strategies in the finished product. The Lopez family of Aldina Vineyards, which developed Bacchus Landing, specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon, as does The Setting, whose partners include Jesse Katz of nearby Aperture Cellars. Aldina and Dot collaborate on California sparkling wines. There's a food market on-site; on Friday and weekend afternoons, you can order a wood-fired pizza to accompany your tasting.

    14210 Bacchus Landing Way, Healdsburg, California, 94558, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings from $25, Closed Tues. and Wed. except by appointment
  • 7. Belden Barns

    Experiencing the enthusiasm this winery's owners radiate supplies half the pleasure of a visit to Lauren and Nate Belden's Sonoma Mountain vineyard, where at elevation 1,000 feet they grow fruit for their all-estate lineup. Grüner Veltliner, a European white grape, isn't widely planted in California, but the crisp yet softly rounded wine they produce from it makes a case for an increase. Critics also hail the Grenache, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and a nectarlike late-harvest Viognier, but you're apt to like anything poured. Tastings take place in a high-ceilinged former milking barn whose broad doorway frames a view of grapevines undulating toward a hilltop. The Beldens tailor visits to guests' interests but will nearly always whisk you into the vineyard, past a 2-acre organic garden, and over to a wishing tree whose results Lauren swears by.

    5561 Sonoma Mountain Rd., Santa Rosa, California, 95404, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings from $20
  • 8. Benovia Winery

    Winemaker-partner Mike Sullivan's Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs would taste marvelous even in a toolshed, but guests to Benovia's unassumingly chic Russian River Valley ranch house will never know. Appointment-only tastings of his acclaimed wines—Benovia also produces Grenache, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon—take place in the brown-hued living room or on the open-air patio. From either vantage point, views of the estate Martaella Vineyard all the way to Mt. St. Helena draw the eye. Wine educators leading vineyard tours focus on Benovia's earth-friendly farming practices; a production tour tracks the wine-making process from vineyard to barrel to glass. Sullivan's handling of two Chardonnays from Martinelli-family grapes typifies his minimalistic approach. He subtly emphasizes minerality in a wine from the Three Sisters Vineyard in the coastal Fort Ross–Seaview AVA. By contrast, a hint of California ripeness emerges in La Pommeraie, from Zio Tony Ranch in the warmer Russian River Valley.

    3339 Hartman La., Santa Rosa, California, 95401, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings from $45
  • 9. Blue Farm Wines

    Anne Moller-Racke, founder of the Pinot Noir powerhouse The Donum Estate and its president for nearly two decades, established this smaller label also devoted to serious Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Moller-Racke, who describes herself as a winegrower in the French vigneron tradition that places agriculture at the pinnacle of wine making, practices "precision farming" to produce the best possible fruit. Hosts of private tastings at her 13-acre estate explain her philosophy and the five Sonoma County appellations where she cultivates grapes. Anchored by a circa-1880 Victorian and adjacent pump house, the former horse farm is now planted to 7 acres of grapes. Near the residence, a formidable century-old pepper tree and a rose garden with dozens of varieties catch the eye, the Mayacamas Mountains supplying the idyllic setting's backdrop. The appointment-only winery requests prospective guests inquire about visits at least 48 hours in advance.

    San Luis Rd., off Hwy. 12, Sonoma, California, 95476, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings $65, Closed weekends
  • 10. Bricoleur Vineyards

    According to cofounders Mark and Beth Hanson, the French word bricoleur loosely translates to "flying by the seat of the pants," the feeling the two experienced when they purchased a 40-acre estate southwest of Windsor's town green and set about establishing a winery and lavish hospitality center. The Hansons enlisted several Wine Country veterans to develop wine-making and culinary programs, and—voilà! (well, almost)—a star was born. The Windsor property produces Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with vineyards in Alexander Valley (Zinfandel, Carignane) and Fountaingrove (Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, and Grenache for rosé) supplying additional varietals. By appointment, hosts pour these self-assured wines in a 10,000-square-foot barn, a courtyard shaded by London plane trees, an open-air pavilion, and other settings with vineyard, garden, or Russian River Valley views (sometimes all three). All tastings involve food pairings overseen by the winery's culinary advisor, chef Charlie Palmer. 

    7394 Starr Rd., California, 95492, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings from $75, Closed Tues. and Wed.
  • 11. Cāpo Creek Ranch

    Halfway through a wine-and-food pairing at this serenely rustic Dry Creek Valley winery you may find yourself asking not only "How does she do it?"—"she" being Dr. Mary Roy, Cāpo Creek Ranch's proprietor, winemaker, chef, and hostess with the mostest—but also "How does she make it look so easy?" The answer might simply be that running a winery isn't likely to faze someone who raised six kids while operating a bustling radiological imaging center. Whatever the reason, in "retirement" Roy has created a magical showcase for her mostly Rhône-style whites and reds (the stars) along with Cabernet Sauvignon, estate old-vine Zinfandel, and numerous blends. Most tastings occur outdoors facing east toward the heritage-Zin vineyard, with the cave and the tasting room alternative possibilities. All tastings involve Roy's food, but a worthwhile splurge is the six-course Ultimate Food & Wine Pairing, which lives up to its name.

    7171 W. Dry Creek Rd., Healdsburg, California, 95448, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings from $85
  • 12. Cartograph Wines

    The husband-wife team behind Cartograph believes in Pinot Noirs emphasizing "balance, nuance, and complexity, rather than power and intensity." To that end they select vineyard sites based on climate and clone compatibility, harvest their grapes on the early side, and intervene as little as possible during the wine-making process. The resulting wines please on their own and pair well with food. Unlike many Sonoma County Pinot producers, Cartograph eschews Chardonnay for its still whites, opting instead for the Alsatian grape Riesling, done in a refreshingly crisp and dry style. Chardonnay does, however, appear in the winery's sparkling wine. Visits to the storefront space a block northeast of Healdsburg Plaza are by appointment (call for same-day).

    340 Center St., Healdsburg, California, 95448, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings from $30, Closed Sun. and Mon.
  • 13. Chappellet Winery

    When Donn and Molly Chappellet established their renowned Pritchard Hill winery in 1967, most Cabernet Sauvignon was grown on the Napa Valley floor, but the couple and other early adopters proved that mountain fruit could produce complex ageworthy wines. The Chappellets chose their rocky, tree-studded, now 640-acre property for its grape-growing potential, but the striking views north to Lake Hennessey and Mt. St. Helena undoubtedly played a role, too. The winemaker and vineyard manager have worked here for more than three decades, and with the family's second generation in charge, a sense of purpose and continuity prevails. Relaxed tastings of wines that might also include Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc often take place in the cavernous original winery amid rows of stacked oak barrels. A tasting of current releases follows the once-a-month group hike of Pritchard Hill, highly recommended for those in shape.

    1581 Sage Canyon Rd., St. Helena, California, 94574, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings from $125
  • 14. Charles M. Schulz Museum

    Fans of Snoopy and Charlie Brown will love this museum dedicated to the late Charles M. Schulz, who lived his last three decades in Santa Rosa. Permanent installations include a re-creation of the cartoonist's studio, and temporary exhibits often focus on a particular theme in his work. Children and adults can take a stab at creating cartoons in the Education Room.

    2301 Hardies La., Santa Rosa, California, 95403, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $14, Closed Tues. early Sept.–late May
  • 15. Chenoweth Wines

    Distinguished producers like Patz & Hall and Kosta Browne make wines from grapes farmed by the Chenoweth family, whose ancestors settled in the redwood-studded hills northwest of Sebastopol in the mid-1800s. In 2000, Charlie Chenoweth converted apple orchards to vineyards, in recent years reserving some of the fruit for his wife, Amy, to craft the namesake Pinot Noirs and rosé of Pinot Noir. Her excellent wines alone warrant a visit to the several hundred–acre property, but the lofty Russian River Valley perspectives, down-home hospitality, and hardworking but fun-loving family vibe elevate the experience exponentially. Appointment-only tastings, often conducted by the gregarious Amy herself, include a rollicking UTV tour to sip Pinots where their grapes were grown. If you can't make it to the ranch, Region wine bar in The Barlow pours two Chenoweth wines.

    5550 Harrison Grade Rd., Sebastopol, California, 95472, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: UTV tour and tasting $150, Closed Fri. and Sun.
  • 16. Cliff Lede Vineyards

    Inspired by his passion for classic rock, owner and construction magnate Cliff Lede named the blocks in his Stags Leap District vineyard after hits by the Grateful Dead and other bands. Two other Lede obsessions are rock memorabilia and contemporary art like Jim Dine's outdoor sculpture Twin 6' Hearts, a magnet for the Instagram set. The vibe at this efficient, high-tech winery is anything but laid-back, however. Cutting-edge agricultural and enological science informs the vineyard management and wine making here. Lede produces Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Bordeaux-style red blends. All the wines are well crafted, though the Cabs truly rock. Book a Backstage Tasting Lounge session to sip top-tier wines amid a rock music–related art exhibition.

    1473 Yountville Cross Rd., Yountville, California, 94599, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings from $60
  • 17. Corison Winery

    Respected for three 100% Cabernet Sauvignons, Corison Winery harks back to simpler days, with tastings alfresco in view of the half century–old Kronos Vineyard or amid oak barrels inside an unadorned, barnlike facility. The straightforward approach suits the style of Cathy Corison. One of post-1960s Napa Valley's first women owner-winemakers, she eschews blending because she believes her sunny St. Helena AVA vineyards (and other selected sites) can ripen Cabernet better than anywhere else in the world. Critics tend to agree with her approach, often waxing ecstatic about these classic wines. The highly recommended Library Tasting, which starts with a brief winery and vineyard tour, includes recent releases and older vintages that together illustrate Corison's consistency as a winemaker and how gracefully her wines mature. All visits are by appointment.

    987 St. Helena Hwy., St. Helena, California, 94574, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings from $95
  • 18. Davis Estates

    Owners Mike and Sandy Davis transformed a ramshackle property into a plush winery whose predominantly Bordeaux-style wines live up to the magnificent setting. In fashioning the couple's haute-rustic appointment-only hospitality center, the celebrated Wine Country architect Howard Backen incorporated cedar, walnut, and other woods. In fine weather, many guests sit on the open-air terrace's huge swinging sofas, enjoying broad valley views while tasting Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay whites, with Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Cabs and Cab-heavy blends among the reds. The wines can be paired with small bites by Mark Caldwell, the executive chef. Tastings are by appointment only.

    4060 Silverado Trail N, Calistoga, California, 94515, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings from $100
  • 19. Domaine Carneros

    A visit to this majestic château is an opulent way to enjoy the Carneros District—especially in fine weather, when the vineyard views are spectacular. The château was modeled after an 18th-century French mansion owned by the Taittinger family. Carved into the hillside beneath the winery, the cellars produce sparkling wines reminiscent of those made by Taittinger, using only Los Carneros AVA grapes. Enjoy flights of sparkling wine or Pinot Noir with cheese and charcuterie plates, caviar, or smoked salmon. Tastings are by appointment only.

    1240 Duhig Rd., Napa, California, 94559, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings from $40
  • 20. Dry Creek Peach & Produce

    If you happen by this farm stand in the summer, don't pass up the chance to sample the tree-ripened white and yellow peaches, some of which may have been harvested moments before you arrived. You can buy peaches in small quantities, as well as organic peach jam. How good are these peaches? Customers include the famed Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley.  The stand is typically open from July to mid-September between noon and 5 on Wednesday, Friday, and the weekend. Call ahead to confirm, though.

    2179 Yoakim Bridge Rd., Healdsburg, California, 95448, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Closed mid-Sept.–June and Mon., Tues., and Thurs. July–mid-Sept

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