The Best Napa Wineries for First-Time Visitors

With over 400 wineries to choose from, it can be a bit overwhelming to plan a visit to Napa Valley. We're here to help.

Napa Valley is widely considered one of the premier wine destinations in the world. Millions of people come here each year to sip wine, eat good food and stay in luxury resorts. But with over 400 wineries to choose from, it can be overwhelming to plan a first visit.

To help visitors create a perfect trip itinerary, we have put together this list of Napa wineries that offer a great introduction to the superlatives of the region. And, because the ambiance and setting is just as important as the wine, we have created a photo gallery above that offers a peek at each winery.

Domaine Carneros

Every visit to Napa Valley should begin with bubbles. Founded by the famed Taittinger family, Domaine Carneros produces French-style sparklers from sustainably grown estate vineyards. Take in the vineyard views from a table on the patio — you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a French countryside chateau.

Tasting to try: Domaine Carneros’s “A Journey to Southeast Asia” pairs sparkling wines with a menu inspired by the cuisines of Vietnam, Thailand and India. It includes savory and sweet bites and four sparkling wines: Ultra Brut, Estate Brut Cuvée, Brut Rosé and Verméil Demi-Sec. $99 for a 90-minute experience.

1240 Duhig Road, Napa. 800-716- 2788.


Founded in 1862, Schramsberg is one of the oldest sparkling wine producers in California. The historic property was purchased by Jack and Jamie Davies in 1965 and is now listed as a California Historical Landmark, complete with a Victorian mansion. Shortly after buying the winery, the Davies made their first vintage of Blanc de Blancs — the first commercial use of chardonnay in a sparkling wine made in the United States.

Tasting to try: The cave tour experience at Schramsberg is educational, starting with a tour of the historic property and caves followed by an all-sparkling wine tasting, or three Schramsberg sparkling wines and three red wines from sister winery, Davies Vineyards. Cave tastings start at $85. By appointment only.

1400 Schramsberg Road, Calistoga. 800-877-3623.


Both locals and visitors to Wine Country tout the views and wine at Artesa, where the hillside tasting room and winery overlooks 350 acres of vineyards. Opened in 1991 by Spanish winemaking family Codorníu Raventós, the winery offers estate-grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir crafted by winemaker Paula Borgo. (“Artesa” means “handcrafted” or “artisan” in Catalan.)

Tasting to try: After snapping selfies by the winery’s impressive entrance, enjoy the classic “Taste of Artesa” pairing of Ibérico ham and wine by the modern Mediterranean tasting bar, or on the patio, which offers 360-degree views — on a clear day you can see San Francisco. $105 per person. Reservations recommended.

1345 Henry Road, Napa. 707-224-1668.

Ashes & Diamonds

Midcentury-modern design and excellent wines make this one of the hottest destinations in Wine Country. The winery has been featured in a variety of lifestyle publications, including Architectural Digest, Vogue and Goop, but tastings here remain relaxed and casual, and come with great music playlists curated by winery owner Kashy Khaledi.

Tasting to try: It’s hard to go wrong with pizza and wine. The “A&D Wines + Shroomy Schmaltzy” tasting features pizza with locally foraged wild mushrooms, aged mozzarella and crème fraîche paired with three wines. Yum! $45 per person. Reservations required.

4130 Howard Lane, Napa. 707-666-4777.

Outdoor area at Ashes & Diamonds winery in Napa. (Ashes & Diamonds)
Outdoor area at Ashes & Diamonds winery in Napa. (Ashes & Diamonds)
The tasting room at Ashes & Diamonds winery in Napa. (Ashes & Diamonds)
The tasting room at Ashes & Diamonds winery in Napa. (Ashes & Diamonds)

Beaulieu Vineyard

“Beau lieu” means “beautiful place” in French, which was an apt name for this Rutherford property thought the de Latour family when they bought it in the early 20th century. One of the oldest wineries in California, Beaulieu Vineyard (or simply “BV”) is a must-visit for wine lovers seeking a touch of heritage with their estate Cabernet.

Tasting to try: The reservation-only “Legacy Experience” starts with a tour of the winery followed by a tasting of a selection of reserve wines in the winery’s Legacy Room. $130 per person. Reservations recommended.

1960 St. Helena Hwy., Rutherford. 800-373-5896.


The first winery to have both a red and a white wine named “Wine of the Year” by Wine Spectator, Beringer has been crafting wines for nearly 150 years, making it the oldest continually operating winery in California. If that isn’t enough to convince you to visit, the gardens and the stately Victorian-era tasting rooms, housed in the Beringer family’s former home — the Rhine House — should seal the deal.

Tasting to try: The “Legacy Cave Tour” winds through the old winery and into the cave to explore the hand-carved tunnels. The tour includes a tasting of three wines. $35 per person. Reservations recommended

2000 Main St., St. Helena. 707-257-5771.

Castello di Amorosa

It’s no surprise that some refer to Dario Sattui, a fourth generation vintner and the man behind Castello di Amorosa, as a modern-day Don Quixote. Sattui spent 15 years building this medieval-style Tuscan castle in Napa Valley as a place to showcase his wines. The result: a 107-room, eight-level, 136,000-square-foot building complete with drawbridge, secret passageways, torture chamber — and tasting rooms.

Tasting to try: The “Diamond Estate Tour” includes a guided tour of the castle and its production area, followed by a tasting of five current-release reserve and small-production wines. $75 per person. Reservations required. Adults only.

4045 St. Helena Highway, Calistoga. 707-967-6272.

Charles Krug

Charles Krug, an immigrant from the German state of Prussia and one of the pioneers of Napa Valley winemaking, founded this winery in St. Helena in 1861. Robert Mondavi, another winemaking legend, got his start here after he convinced his parents, Cesare and Rosa Mondavi, to purchase the historic winery in 1943. The winery has remained a Mondavi property for over 75 years and four generations.

Tasting to try: Charles Krug’s “Tour and Tasting” experience offers a taste of winemaking history and five signature, current release wines paired with a gourmet cheese and charcuterie board. $90 per person. Reservations required. Adults only.

2800 Main St., St. Helena. 707-967-2229.

Chateau Montelena

We can thank this Calistoga winery, founded in 1882, for putting California wine on the international wine map. Yes, there once was a time when American wine was the laughingstock of France and its wine producing neighbors. But that all changed when Chateau Montelena’s 1973 Chardonnay won the famous Paris Tasting. Today, the winery continues to produce delicious and accessible wines, including their legendary Chardonnay and collectible Cabernet Sauvignon.

Tasting to try: The “Montelena Estate Collection” showcases the winery’s Estate Cabernet Sauvignon by offering a comparative tasting of four vintages. Don’t worry, you will get to taste the Chardonnay, too. Don’t leave the property without exploring its beautiful Chinese garden, lake and vineyards. $125 per person. Reservations required. Adults only.

1429 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga. 707-942-5105.


Wine lovers flock to Napa Valley for Cabernet Sauvignon, but on a first visit it is also worth seeking out Merlot. The best place to taste the resurgence of the ruby red is at Duckhorn Vineyards in St. Helena. Duckhorn Merlots have been named “wine of the year,” “Merlot of the year” and “just plain darn delicious” by a variety of publications, including Sonoma Magazine, so you don’t want to miss a taste while in Napa Valley.

Tasting to try: The unpretentious tasting room at Duckhorn is surrounded by beautiful gardens. Make a reservation on the veranda for the “Portfolio Tasting Experience” and enjoy five current-release wines: Paraduxx, Goldeneye, Migration, Decoy, Canvasback and Calera. Splurge on a cheese plate; it is a good excuse to linger. $65 per person. Reservations required. Adults only.

1000 Lodi Lane, St. Helena. 707-963-7108.

Far Niente

Another Napa Valley landmark, Far Niente was founded in 1885 by John Benson, who made his money in the California gold rush. (Another fun fact: Benson’s uncle was famous American impressionist painter Winslow Homer.) The historic winery, surrounded by 13 acres of landscaped gardens, is located next to a hillside with 40,000 square feet of caves that age the winery’s award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

Tasting to try: The 90-minute “Tour and Tasting” experience boasts a sweet ending — a tasting of the winery’s lauded late-harvest wine, Dulce. Don’t miss a chance to see the oldest bottle of wine in California, an 1886 Far Niente Sweet Muscat, which the winery proudly displays. $130 per person. By appointment only.

1350 Acacia Drive, Oakville. 707-944-2861,

Hall Wines is one of the best Napa wineries for first-time visitors.
The Bunny Foo-Foo sculpture at Hall Wines in St. Helena. (Hall Wines)

Hall Napa Valley

One of the best things about Napa Valley is the diversity of wine tasting experiences available here. One minute, you’re sipping sparkling wine in a 100-year-old wine cave; the next, you’re tasting bold red blends surrounded by contemporary art. At Hall, pair eco-friendly wines with fine art — the winery is the brainchild of Kathryn Walt Hall (philanthropist and former ambassador to Austria) and her husband, Craig.

Tasting to try: The “HALLmark Tour and Tasting” includes a tour of the innovative production facilities in St. Helena, which will impress any techie, as well as the organic gardens. Then, enjoy a seated tasting where you will nibble on cheese alongside a flight of four wines. And don’t forget to snap a selfie with the Bunny Foo-Foo sculpture outdoors. $75 per person. Reservations recommended.

401 St. Helena Highway, St. Helena. 707-967-2626.


Founded in 1879, Inglenook was the go-to wine for the American elite — including presidents — by the turn of the 20th century. Today, Inglenook wines are among the most collected in the country. The winery was purchased by filmmakers Francis Ford and Eleanor Coppola in 1975 with profits from The Godfather films. Dress up and charge your phone for pictures — the property looks like a movie set.

Tasting to try: During the “Private Library Tour and Tasting” explore the chateau and grounds, wine in hand. Then visit the caves, the vineyards and one of the oldest winemaking facilities in the country, with huge redwood barrels. End the experience with a seated tasting of library wines paired with artisan cheese. $150 per person. By appointment only.

1991 St Helena Highway, Rutherford. 707-968-1161. 

Robert Mondavi Winery

One of Napa’s most well-known wineries has temporary downtown digs. Robert Mondavi Winery’s Arch & Tower has moved into the city’s historic Borreo building. (The space was formerly occupied by Stone Brewing Co.). Mondavi’s wine tasting experiences will take place at the downtown Napa location while the namesake winery property in Oakville undergoes a multi-year renovation.

Tasting to try: Robert Mondavi founded his namesake winery in 1966, planting Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. The “Napa Exploration” tasting introduces you to four Estates-tier wines. Snag a seat on the River Terrace and take in views of the Napa River while you sip and swirl. $65 per person. Reservations required.

930 Third St., Napa. 888-766-6328,

Silver Oak Cellars

This Napa Valley winery was founded in 1972 by onetime Colorado oil prospector Raymond Twomey Duncan and winemaker Justin Meyer. Their goal: to make Cabernet Sauvignon aged exclusively in American white oak. Today, Silver Oak Cellars is operated by Twomey Duncan’s  sons, David and Tim Duncan, who are committed to sustainable winemaking practices and operations and continue to focus on Cabernet from Napa Valley and Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley.

Tasting to try: The “Silver Tasting and Tour” allows visitors to observe the winemaking process from a glass-enclosed cellar while sipping cab in a modern tasting room built from hand-quarried limestone. Pinot lovers will enjoy the opportunity to taste bottles from Silver Oak’s sister property, Twomey. Tastings start at $65.

915 Oakville Cross Road, Oakville. 707-942-7022.

Silver Oak Cellars in Oakville. (Silver Oak Cellars)
Silver Oak Cellars in Oakville. (Silver Oak Cellars)
Spootswoode Winery in St. Helena. (Spootswoode Winery)
Spootswoode Winery in St. Helena. (Spootswoode Winery)

Spottswoode Winery

This family-owned and operated winery is setting the standard for sustainability in Napa Valley. In 1985, Spottswoode was the first in Napa Valley to farm organically. In 2020, the estate earned biodynamic certification and became the first Napa Valley winery to earn B Corp Certification. Most recently, Spottswoode added Regenerative Organic Certification to its long list of eco-friendly accomplishments.

Tasting to try: Private “Estate Tastings” are hosted by appointment Monday through Friday. After touring the estate and learning about the winery’s farming practices, you’ll enjoy a seated tasting of current-release Spottswoode wines. $150 per person.

1902 Madrona Ave., St. Helena. 707-963-0134,

Tres Sabores 

This family-owned, woman-led winery produces organically farmed wines in a postcard setting. Along with vineyards, owner and winemaker Julie Johnson tends to pomegranates, Meyer lemons, olives and more. A plus: leashed dogs are welcome with advance notice.

Tasting to try: Grab a seat on the sunny patio or at a shady picnic table and sip on five current releases while watching hummingbirds in the heirloom garden, sheep “mowing” in the vineyards, and red-tailed hawks soaring above. $60 per person. A locally-sourced cheese and charcuterie platter large enough for four can be reserved for an additional $28. Reservations required.

1620 South Whitehall Lane, St. Helena. 707-967-8027,

Dana Rebmann contributed to this article.