Such A Great Wine Tasting Experience In Napa Valley Area

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Looking Forward To Wine Tasting Experience In Napa

Our road trip in California brought us to many different wine regions. Early in our trip, we started with wine tasting in Temecula. Although we travelled through the vineyards in the Paso Robles area, we did not get to wine taste. But we finished with a long weekend in Napa. It gave us such a great wine tasting experience in Napa Valley Area.

Our friend Amber from WineTravelEats set up a series of wine tastings for us during our stay. She wanted to show us a smaller, more intimate and personal wine tasting experiences. And boy did she excel! We travelled around the various wine areas in and around the Napa Valley. The views were stunning. The wines were delightful. And the hospitality could not have been better.

Wine Regions Surround Napa Valley

When we visited Napa on our last trip, we learned that the wine areas of Napa and Sonoma are in separate valley areas beside each other.

There are a growing number of wineries in Green Valley. The Green Valley AVA (American Viticulture Area) is about one mile long and four miles wide. Many of the farms provide grapes for Napa Valley wineries. But there are also some great wineries in this area. We stopped at GV Cellars for a tasting. This small family winery produced 6 distinct varietals and a specialty wine every year. My David and I shared a mixed tasting of white and red wines. We just drank what we liked. But Amber took a more professional approach to her sampling. And shared her thoughts on the wines. Since she was the driver, she could only taste and spit.

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 GV Cellars Dolce Rosato - Wine Tasting Experience In Napa.jpg

Amber then took us for a drive through the lush and green valleys. Right beside Green Valley is Suisun Valley. They claim to be the Petit Sirah capital of the world. We did not stop for a tasting although we did pass several wineries.

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Touring the Green Valley and Suisun Valley AVAs was a great way to start our wine tasting experience in Napa Valley area.

We Started Our Full Day Wine Tasting At Keller Estates

We were excited when we learned that fellow travel bloggers Shaun and Kevin were in Napa at the same time we were. They are wine experts like Amber and we knew we would learn a lot about wine as we toured the Napa area wineries with them.

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Our first stop was at Keller Estates wineries. It had rained for days in Napa and the fields and roads were quite flooded. Two cell phones and the GPS each had a different routing to get us from Napa to Petaluma around the flooding. It was a good thing that David was patient as the directions changed regularly.

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As we pulled up the long driveway, we were greeted by a long set of poles with what looked like owl statues on top of them. When we pulled closer, we realized they were live turkey vultures. And one by one they spread their wings. Luckily the sheep in the other fields were much less interested in our arrival.

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We headed up and were buzzed through the gate. Keller Estates does wine tasting by reservation only. As we topped the hill, we got our first view of the rolling hills of Keller Estates. We later learned that there were 36 acres of olive trees. And the estate produces a spicy olive oil in addition to a broad selection of wines.

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The large cave and processing facility was closer to the gate. We did not do a tour of the cave. But it is something I would do on a return trip. From there we followed the drive to the parking area for the tasting room.

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As we approached Keller Estates, we were excited for our next wine tasting experience in Napa Valley area.

Keller Estates Has Wine And So Much More

The first thing we saw as we approached the tasting room was a beautiful model car statue in the front entrance way. We late learned that the man in the car was the founder Arturo. Around the walls we found more interesting wine-themed art.

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 Mercedes Benz Keller Estates - Wine Tasting Experience In Napa.jpg

When we entered the tasting room, we were stunned to see a beautiful black classic Jaguar. There were 200 classic cars on the estate. We were sure that a tour of the car facility would be another stunning way to visit Keller Estates.

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We were settled in and learned a little bit more about this winery. The winery was bought by Arturo in the mid 1980’s and they were open for their first tasting in 2007. Since 1998, Arturo’s daughter Ana has been guiding the winery. We were delighted when we got a chance to meet Ana and see her passion for the winery.

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Our wine tasting started with a 2015 Brut Rosé made from Pinot Noir grapes. Bubbles are always a great way to start.

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We went on to taste a oaky and smooth 2015 La Cruz Chardonnay. Comparison tastings of the 2015 La Cruz Pinot Noir against the 2015 El Coro Pinot Noir let us see the difference that region made to the taste of identical grapes. The La Cruz and El Coro areas are at different elevations. But the process was the same. We certainly could taste the difference in the two wines. Our final wine was the 2014 Rotie. This was an interesting blend of Sirah and Viognier grapes.

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We had a lovely personal visit to Keller Estates. The wines and winery were great. And there was so many more interesting touches to this spot. This was definitely a great way to begin the full day tour on our wine tasting experience in Napa Valley area.

A Bubbly Stop At Domaine Carneros

We had a little time before our next wine tasting reservation so we stopped at the beautiful Domaine Carneros winery. This was a regular stop for Shaun and Kevin since it brought back great memories of their wedding. As we approached the grand staircase up, we could certainly understand why this was a great spot for a celebration.

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This stop gave us a chance to try 4 different sparkling wines back-to-back. We started with the 2014 Ultra Brut and went sweeter through a sparkling rosé to the sweetest 2014 Vermeil Demi-Sec.

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Sparkling Wine Tasting Domaine Carneros Winery - Wine Tasting Experience In Napa.jpg

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It was great to be able to move between the sparkling wines experiencing the bubbles. I was surprised when David did not like the sweetest one the best. For me, the rosé hit all the right notes. We ordered a small nibble plate. And of course the sparkling wine was enhanced when we tried it with chocolate.

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There was a wide selection of sparkling wines to taste test and to buy. This winery was open and did not require reservations in advance. Since we had not planned this stop, we just settled in with everyone else and enjoyed our wines. But it was a little different than the rest of our wine tasting experience in Napa Valley area.

Clif Family Estates For Food And Wine

Amber had set up our reservation at the Clif Family Estates for us to do a wine tasting and have lunch. When we learned that this winery was established by the family that created the famous Clif bars, we were not sure what to expect. When we arrived at the estate, we saw the bright green Bruschetteria food truck that prepares all the food. But when our lunch arrived, it did not look anything like food truck fare. It was a delicious way to start our wine tasting.

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Bruschetteria Clif Family Tasting Room - Wine Tasting Experience In Napa.jpg

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Bruschetteria Clif Family Tasting Room - Wine Tasting Experience In Napa.jpg

The Clif Family Estates has a very long wine list. There were two different tasting menus. But our great host made sure we tasted so many more than just one list. If there was one we seemed interested in, someone got to try it. The Zinfandel and the Viognier we tasted were a great addition to the basic menu choices. One of the early wines we tried was the 2018 Rosé Grenache. I like a lot of the wine we tasted but this was one of my favourites.

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Through the wine tasting we got to try a number of wines back-to-back to see the differences. We also got to see the wide variety in the labelling of the bottles. Many of the vintages had great scenes of the family’s favourite cycling locations.

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We started with two Sauvignon Blancs – the 2018 Oak Knoll and the 2017 Rte. The effect that oak makes was strikingly obvious in these two blends. We also got to try the 2014 Cold Springs Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon against the 2013 Croquet Howell Mountain version. The Cold Springs area is a higher area with volcanic soil and the grapes have to fight harder. The Croquet site is lower on the mountain and with so much more sunshine is harvested a month earlier. The two versions of Cabernet Sauvignon definitely tasted different. Chocolate was the obvious choice to try with the robust red wines.

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Cabernet Sauvignon Clif Family Tasting Room - Wine Tasting Experience In Napa.jpg

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Our stop at the Clif Family Estates provided us with tasty food and an amazingly broad range of delicious wines to try. We were so glad this was part of our wine tasting experience in Napa Valley area.

The Old World Wines Of Luna Vineyards

The final stop on our wine tasting trip was at Luna Vineyards. This was a smaller tasting venue but there was a large bar area that looked like a great gathering spot. We started our wine tasting with a lovely crisp 2017 Pinot Grigio. We stayed with white wines and tried two different versions of Chardonnay (2017 Wente and the 2016 Dijon). One was finished in stainless steel and one in oak. We could definitely taste the difference in the two vintages. Neither of these convinced me to add Chardonnay to my favourite wine list.

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We then moved into the more unique wines produced in the Napa region. We were happy to try two different Sangiovese wines. Both the region and blend of grapes were different in the 2015 Classico and 2015 Reserve. For me, the Reserve had the right level of smoothness I love in a hearty red wine.

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We stayed with red wines and tried two different Cabernet Sauvignon wines. One was a 2015 from Atlas Peak and the other was the 2014 from Howell Mountain. We certainly enjoyed the Howell Mountain wines that day. The Howell Mountain wine was served with a Coravin gadget. This allows a bottle of wine to be open for a longer time and poured out as required. This was my new favourite gadget find on this trip.

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Cabernet Sauvignon Luna Vineyards - Wine Tasting Experience In Napa.jpg

We were curious about the 2015 Mille Baci and were told it was a late harvest wine. This was a great dessert wine. We love Canadian ice wines. And had we not had a large supply of ice wine at home, we would have taken a bottle of this with us. It was great to finish up our wine tasting experience in Napa Valley area at Luna Vineyards.

An Awesome Wine Tasting Experience in Napa Valley Area

We tried the wines in the Napa area on our last visit. But on this return visit, we got the most amazing wine tasting experience in the Napa Valley area. We really saw that there was more than one great wine region (or AVA). The wines and wineries were all so varied. But the wine tasting experience in Napa Valley area we got was exemplary. It was great to have the doors opened by Amber.

Our 3 days in Napa sped by. We did enjoy some time to just explore the town of Napa. But we definitely need to plan another return trip.

Did you have a great wine tasting experience in Napa Valley area? Did you have a favourite winery? Is there one that should top our list for a return visit?

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32 Comments

  1. Whoa! Those live turkey vultures spreading their wings as if they’re perfectly practiced! What a lovely picture it makes. The wine tour sounds wonderful. Did you buy any to take home?

    • Punita, The turkey vultures certainly were a big surprise! We thought they were statues until they moved. We bought a couple of bottles of wine. But not all of them made it home! There was so many great choices on this tour. Linda

  2. Great post! Wine tasting has been on our agenda for quite some time now and I think there is no better place to do it than Nappa Valley. Thanks for sharing these details.

  3. We were actually considering going here on our road trip, but we had to give it a skip as we were quite short on time, absolutely gutted as it sounds amazing! Then again, is there ever a bad wine tasting experience? Plus having some dark chocolate to accompany will always go down a treat.

    • Tom, This was our second visit to Napa and it did not disappoint. So much great wine. And beautiful wineries. Hope you get to visit if you are back in that area again. Linda

  4. I love visiting Napa Valley! It’s such a great escape from LA for me! I’ve been to Keller here on your list, but not the others- there are so many good ones that you can mix it up every time you visit.

  5. Woah! That picture of turkey eagles! If you hadn’t mentioned they were alive, I would have assumed they were decor pieces. Kelly and Domaine Carneros vineyard looks so pretty! I am not a wine person, but would love visiting Napa just to stroll around the Vineyards. 🙂

    • Vaisakhi, The turkey vultures certainly were a great treat. If they had not moved I would have thought they were statues too. Even if you are not a wine person, the wineries are great to visit. Linda

  6. Thank you for this lovely write-up about Napa Valley. The USA has so many places – fantastic places to visit. And I am a wine lover. The list of things to do when I return to the USA is growing daily!

  7. The wineries look exquisite and the wine so inviting. I had no idea that the Clif family made wine! What a pairing! I’m glad you got to try from both of the wine lists while you were there, choosing the right wine list can be treacherous work! And the food doesn’t look half bad either. I love the old black Jag! What a gorgeous car! Thanks for sharing!

    • Stevo, We too were surprised that the Clif Family did wines. Such a great selection. And the food truck was a great addition. The cars at the Keller Estates winery were a big draw for this car girl geek! Linda

  8. “Napas backside is taking shape” OMG, those guys have a sense of humor. Sounds like you had an awesome time. And having just visited SLO County, I can tell you the wines there are amazing as well!

  9. I’ve always wanted to do a wine tasting tour in Napa. And I love Keller Estates wine, so I’ll definitely add that to my tour list. Your shot of the turkey vultures is incredible!

    • Kate, There were so many great wineries in the area. We did love the whole Keller experience. If I had not taken the shot of the turkey vultures, I would have thought they were statues. Hope you get to visit. Linda

  10. Wine tasting experiences are funfilled ones! Haven’t been anywhere near Napa valley but would love to get there for the photo opportunities. Such a lovely place.

  11. I keep reading articles about wine tasting in Napa it must be really popular there. I love that they had accompaniments with the wine too, looks delicious

  12. Napa Valley has such a romantic connotation for me…maybe the movies or the books. From your pictures and description of the vineyard, I can quite imagine it all. I sure would love to stay here and experience the place for a day or two – feel those vibes as I sip the wine.

  13. Keller Estates looks so beautiful! This part of California never ceases to amaze me, it reminds me so much of Italy. The Clif Family Estates looks really nice too. I’d love to try something from their extensive wine list!

  14. Great! We just had a Wine Tour Tasting in Thailand last week but Asia’s wine is very different. I love this side of California, so green and quiet! Did you buy a bottle of wine in each visit? I love to taste Cali wines, too!

    • Katrina, The Napa area definitely was a great spot to visit. We bought some wine but not at all stops. But we did taste a lot of interesting wine we would not get at home. Linda

  15. I haven’t been to Keller Estates but I love the sculpture of the owner in his car. It’s interesting that the same grapes grown at different elevations can make that much of a difference

    • Sherianne, We loved our visit to Keller Estates. I would have loved to see the rest of the car collection. It was great to do tastings back to back to really understand the differences that the grape area can make. Linda

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