vineyard sunset in sonoma

Sunset in Sonoma. (Photo: Getty Images)

Eat + Drink

Savor Every Sip at These Top Napa Valley Wineries

Head to the storied Signorello Estate winery in Napa Valley for a taste of Syrah. (Photo: Alamy)

The little slice of Northern California heaven called Napa Valley is home to approximately 400 wineries. You could spend a lifetime visiting the many tasting rooms, but with limited time, how do you hit the highlights? It’s all about the wine, after all, so why not start with the varietals that Napa does best?

From your Napa Valley hotel, you can easily visit the many wineries that produce a handful of varietals like no other place on earth. We’ve culled the list for you and recommend the following three as must-taste stops.

The Winemaker’s Grape

Chardonnay, known as the “the winemaker’s grape” because it can be used for so many different types of wine, is the most commonly planted white variety in Napa. Each vineyard processes the Chardonnay grape differently, resulting in flavor profiles from fruity to buttery. Chardonnay is versatile; poultry and pasta dishes pair with it equally well.

If you’re in search of a quality Napa Chardonnay, look no further than Chateau Montelana, a striking, English Gothic-style winery dating back to 1888. In 1976, the vineyard famously won a wine competition against French white Burgundies (the French equivalent of Chardonnay), an honor never before achieved by an American winery.

In addition to its high-caliber Chardonnays, you can enjoy Chateau Montelana’s Old World character with guided tours.

Catch a Cab

Cabernet Sauvignon is called “the king” of Napa Valley red grapes and it’s the one most grown in the region. Considered the American version of France’s Bordeaux wines (similar to those from Médoc), Napa Cabernet Sauvignon must be made of at least 75 percent Cabernet grapes according to California law.

Cab Savs, as they’re affectionately known in the area, are typically characterized by black fruit flavors such as currant and cherry, sometimes with spicy or oak notes. They’re best enjoyed with red meat.

While there’s an embarrassment of riches when it comes to Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, Frog’s Leap Winery in Rutherford has a wonderful option with distinctive floral and red fruit notes. A local pioneer in organic wines, Frog’s Leap offers several ways to tour and taste on site.

Que Syrah?

Though the first Syrah in Napa only debuted in the 1960s, this wine is now considered one of the best in the region. Varying in flavor from smoky to peppery, it can be found with notes ranging from dark berry to black olive. Syrah partners well with grilled meat and hearty game.

For a solid Syrah that’s garnering a great deal of attention, head to the storied Signorello Estate winery in Napa Valley. Before you even taste the rich, silky flavor or eye its dark purple color, the flowery aroma of a Signorello Syrah will have you convinced.

The winery experience itself gets high marks, with events such as Enoteca Signorello, a private tasting offered Wednesdays through Sundays.