Napa Valley Stories and Tips

The Best of Napa Valley

A view from the top Photo, Napa Valley, California

Best Treatment of Designated Driver: Niebaum-Coppola was the only winery (of 12) which had anything other than water for the designated drivers to drink. They offered me a free soda. I was very grateful, as I was sick of drinking water all day.

Most Entertaining Wine Pourer: Gary at Sterling Winery. He was very friendly and was quite entertaining with stories of guests that he has had through the years working at the winery. Look for him and ask him to tell you the story about "the guy from New York," which I can’t repeat here.

Best Views: While several of the wineries had beautiful vineyards, Sterling had the best view overall, with a look down into the valley (you ride a tram to the top of a hill to get that view). Mumm came in a close second.

Best Winery Gift Shop: V. Sattui had a grocery/gift shop attached that could have kept me occupied for an hour at least.

Best Winery Building: Oh, of course this is perfectly subjective, but I fell in love with the building at Mario Andretti. I wanted to move in. With Spanish architecture and no crowds, it was almost a spiritual moment where we just stood back and said, "This is Napa Valley."

Best Spot for a Kodak Moment: Clos Pegase is worth seeing just for the statues alone. We were disappointed that there was a forklift parked in front of the building, but the rest of the grounds were prime spots for pictures. If you stand in front of the entrance and face away from the building, there is a great shot of hills and trees and vineyards. Additionally, there are sculptures all over the place. Don’t miss the big thumb sculpture.

Second Best Spot for a Kodak Moment: Just south of St. Helena on Highway 29 is the "Welcome to Napa Valley" sign, which is a cheesy photo spot, but fun nevertheless. There is a turnoff in front of the sign so that you can park.

Best Value for Tastings: Well, you can’t beat free tastings at V. Sattui; however, my friends said they didn’t like the wine there. Second best value was Cosentino, where a $5 generous tasting will also get you a free glass.

Most Knowledgeable Wine Pourer: This honor would have to go the Robert Mondavi tour guide, Ralph. Extremely smart, but also funny, he would have to be my favorite.

Secret Find: Open for only a few months, TwoMey was a pleasant surprise. Though they only poured Merlot while we were there, my friends liked the wine so much that they each bought a bottle. TwoMey is on Dunaweal Lane in St. Helena off of Highway 29, the same street as Sterling and Clos Pegase.

Worst Treatment of the Designated Driver: This would have to go to Sterling, because the tram ride up the mountain was $10, which included wine tasting, and they did not give any discount to non-drinkers (though the underage rate was $5.)

Most Crowded Winery: It was very difficult to find a parking space at Sterling, though once we got to the top of the hill, it didn’t seem to be as busy. The tasting room at Peju was very crowded at the end of the day because they were open later than other wineries (6pm), and so it seemed as if everyone got there at the same time.

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