By Culina Sommelier Rebekah Turpin.
At Culina, we love working with and supporting local purveyors, which is why we’re so lucky that Napa Valley is only a hop, skip and a drive up the Grape Vine. I recently had the chance to tour Wine Country, and visit the region’s incredible vineyards and wineries, which produce the most remarkable wines – many of which we pour at Culina! For those of you planning a visit up North, I’ve put together this list of the best wineries for you to visit, with a few insider tips for each.
Opus One It doesn’t get any more luxurious than this. Napa Valley pioneer, Robert Mondavi, and founder of Château Mouton Rothschild in Bordeaux France, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, teamed up to create this magnificent winery where you can enjoy a tour of the pristine grounds, including the flawless production facilities and underground barrel room.
Know before you go: Winery tours are by appointment only, so be sure to call ahead to make your reservation.
Swanson For a swanky wine and food pairing experience, head straight to Swanson. Here, you will sample some of Napa’s most memorable wines. Schedule a tasting in one of the winery’s luxe private dining rooms, and your personal host will guide you through a series of perfect pairings, think caviar on a handmade potato chip paired with their Napa Valley chardonnay, chocolate truffles and Cabernet, and artisan cheeses hand selected to go with each wine.
Insider Tip: Tastings at this winery are very intimate (seating about eight at a time), making it the perfect place to host a small celebration.
Round Pond The drive into Round Pond alone will leave you with the quintessential California wine country feeling. Casually cruise several miles down a road lined with palm trees, olive trees and seemingly endless vineyards, and end at the spectacular winery. Grab a glass of their Sauvignon Blanc and spend your afternoon sampling freshly picked spinach and fava beans from their organic gardens. End your day watching the sunset on their glorious outdoor patio. If you’re able to go on a Sunday, be sure to make a reservation for their brunch in the vineyard.
Wine Not: In addition to creating incredible wines, they make and bottle their own olive oils – try the Blood Orange, it won’t disappoint.
Mumm Napa Change up the pace with a chilled, refreshing glass of bubbly at this delightful winery. There is a beautiful outdoor seating area with large tables for group tastings overlooking acres and acres of their vineyards. Mumm also offers educational tours of their champagne producing facilities, which is a unique and fun experience in Napa Valley.
Not to be missed: Made using the méthode traditionnelle, the DXM vintage rose champagne was by far my favorite. If you had to choose only one sparkling wine to try, this most certainly would be it!
Jamieson Ranch After tasting your way through multiple wineries, this is the perfect place to end your day. The outside walls of this winery are covered with the work of prominent urban graffiti artists, lending itself to the shabby chic vibe felt throughout the property. Settle into one of the lounges on their sprawling outdoor patio, where they serve charcuterie plates and feature live music on the weekends.
Special sightings: While relaxing on the patio, be sure to keep an eye out for their miniature ponies (they call them “minies”), which can be spotted wandering the winery throughout the weekend.