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Napa Valley is a very special place that I look forward to visiting each year. There are endless wineries to visit and countless varieties of world class wine to taste. Usually, the wineries most often visited are the big-name producers that are well known all over the country. But what about those smaller wineries that have been around even longer than some of those massive wine producers? Although a little harder to find, there are many boutique wineries in Napa that offer a unique experience to those who visit. Today I am sharing with you 5 Napa wineries off the beaten path that you should consider checking out on your next trip to California Wine Country.
Failla is a boutique winery that is inspired by European and old-world winemaking practices. They are known best for their “cool climate wines”, especially their eight different kinds of Chardonnay and three different Syrahs. They offer a family-like experience that feels personal along with great hospitality. When you plan your visit, you can opt to do a cozy lodge tasting, a cave tour tasting, or a spotlight tour and tasting, all accompanied personally by a knowledgeable member of the team.
This winery was established in 1890 and is the oldest family owned winery in Napa Valley! It is definitely off the beaten path, as its tucked up in the mountains above the valley, but well worth the scenic drive. If you are looking for a charming place with lots of history, Nichelini is a great stop. Although it is a small winery, they produce many varieties from a Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé to a Merlot, Sparkling Wine, or a Zinfandel, so everyone is sure to find a wine they will enjoy.
Burgess Cellars is another winery located high in the mountains, 1000 feet above the valley, and provides a unique experience to all who visit. They offer mountainside tasting with panoramic views or cellar tasting giving you the inside scoop on their wine making practices. While Burgess offers many of your typical wine varieties, they also offer the opportunity to buy vintages 10 years or older for those interested. These vintages are quite uncommon, as most of the newly produced wines in Napa Valley typically only age for a few years.
Crocker & Star uses sustainable farming methods to create their small production of impeccable wines from their vineyard estate located in St. Helena. Inspired by the terroir of their vineyard, the co-owner designs magnificent wines such as a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Sauvignon Blanc, a Malbec blend and more. When visiting their winery, they offer different tasting experiences based on preference. If you’re interested in pairing wines with artisan cheeses and charcuterie, they have an Al Fresco Tasting option that is sure to give you the full experience with their estate wines.
Last but not least, Larkmead is another historic family owned establishment that started back in 1895. Although it has gone through different owners over the years, it has managed to keep its home and family like atmosphere while still producing world class wine in Napa Valley. Each visit is personally guided through the winery and followed with a delightful tasting informing visitors all about the making and history of the wines. Their wine list is filled with a variety of elegant wines that possess interesting names and different selections for fall and spring releases. If you are looking for exquisite world class wine with the family hospitality experience, Larkmead must make it on your list.
These wineries are sure to give you an incredible and intimate experience that you can’t get at some of the larger wineries in Napa Valley. Because these wineries are small and only have a few employees, you have to book an appointment for a tasting in advance. Take the road less traveled by and explore Napa off the beaten path. On your next trip, support the lesser known wineries while enjoying world class wines in the California Wine Country. Cheers!