It's summer time in Napa Valley and after a long winter of, wine tasting outdoors sounds divine. We share with you some of our best and most recommended wineries in Napa Valley that offer outdoor tastings.
Napa Valley is a hop, skip and jump from foggy San Francisco and well worth the 54-mile drive. Most of the people we are seeing in the valley right now are coming from the Bay Area. It's easy to put on your summer clothes, hop in your car and make a beeline for the luscious Napa Valley! Where else can you drive for an hour and find yourself amongst the vineyards, eating farm to table seasonal dishes and drinking some of the best wine in the world?
If the drive doesn't make you relax, your arrival to Napa Valley will definitely deliver. Upon arrival, you will feel the difference between city life and country life. The open spaces and manicured vineyards have a relaxing effect upon everyone who visits. The vines are starting to show veraison (onset of ripening) and soon harvest will be upon us. Summer is an exciting time to visit wine country, and we can't wait to see you at a few of the wineries we have recommended. These days, its all about being outdoors, and we have gathered a handful of the best outdoor tastings in Napa Valley or you to enjoy.
TIP: Be sure to plan well ahead (space is very limited), make a reservation (online or by phone), bring a mask, plenty of sunscreens and possibly a Panama hat! Most wineries will pre-charge for the tasting, so have your credit card handy when you pick up the phone or get online to book.
Clif Family (St. Helena) is a lovely place to get great wine in a relaxed and tranquil setting. Located in the heart of St. Helena, this essential stop is right on the beaten path. The back terrace is perfect any time of the day for socializing (up to six people) and light eats from Bruschetta Food Truck/Kitchen (located in a separate building, behind the tasting room). Since Napa Valley is a popular cycling area, folks like to stop off at Clif for some respites while on their ride. It's a great place to get provisions, a nice lunch and some wine at the end of the day. Monday through Thursday from 10AM to 4PM grab a bottle of wine or have a seated tasting and enjoy the vibrant patio. Be sure to call and reserve your spot. Space is limited. From Clif, you are steps away from world-class boutiques and restaurants in downtown Saint Helena. Reservations required.
Living in Napa Valley, one cannot ignore the constant buzz at V. Sattui Winery (St. Helena). Even if you are only visiting, you will notice the action at V. Sattui when you drive by. The outside area is approachable and teeming with excitement. After ordering your food from the marketplace, you can reserve a seat outside and enjoy your meal. Established in 1865 and with 60 plus wines to choose from (several ratings in the 90+ range), it's no wonder people love visiting V. Sattui Winery. Storybook like in every way, the grounds are well-kept and filled with exciting nooks that inspire many to have their wedding here. Probably one of the most photographed wineries in Napa Valley, V. Sattui is easy to get to and full of life! Pick up some food at the Artesian Deli on site or the weekend BBQ and reserve a seat in the glorious garden. Open daily from 9:30AM - 5PM
Tucked away in the storied AVA of Rutherford, sits a very special family-owned winery called William Harrison Winery (Rutherford). While the vineyard may be modest (7 acres), the fruit that they yield from the vines is profound. In a mere 1800 cases of wine annually, the Bordeaux style reds are refined, well-made and truly outstanding. With a top-notch team on board, owner William (Bill) Harrison leads his work family with expertise and wisdom. While driving up the long, tree-lined driveway, don't be surprised if your heart skips a beat. Stunning in every way the property is welcoming in a way that makes you feel as if you have come home. Tastings are all outdoors and a great value at $30 per person. If you are fortunate enough to be a club member, your tastings are complimentary. Don’t leave without buying a few bottles of the Rutherford Red. One of my absolute favorite blends, this wine sells out fast and is worth every penny. Reservations are required. Open Thursday through Monday from 11AM - 5PM.
Frank Family Vineyards (Calistoga) is a favorite for many reasons. If you have any interest in wine country history, you will want to pay homage to the storied Frank Family Vineyards. Located in Calistoga, on a quiet and quaint lane, the drive there will weave through vineyards and trees. Once you arrive, you will see several buildings, one of which is the Larkmead Building. This structure dates back to 1884 and is listed as a point of Historical Interest in the State of California, as well as the National Registry of Historic Places. Be sure to take a look south from the parking lot. A long time ago the train used to run all the way into Calistoga. There was a stop there at the Larkmead Station. The tracks were removed in 1970, but there remains a grand sense of the past.
Over the years, the property has changed hands several times. The current owners, Rich and Leslie Frank, have made sure that the property and the wines are nothing short of brilliant. Considering Rich’s prolific career in Hollywood, it’s no surprise that time spent at the estate is a delightful experience from start to finish. Most of the wines poured are tasting room-only and are served with finesse by personable staff. You will love the shade filled outdoor area! Beautiful grounds. Great team. Great wine. Great history. Call and make your reservation today. You won't be disappointed! Open daily from 10AM - 5PM
Ashes & Diamonds (Napa) is a fantastic outdoor adventure in wine tasting. In their own words, “the winery is a love letter to the Napa Valley when it took its world-wide stage in the 60s.” Every time I go to Ashes & Diamonds, I am left speechless. I have often said to friends that I am not sure if my love for Ashes & Diamonds stems from the perfectly crafted wines, the post-modern architecture, or the careful attention to food and connectivity. A geek at heart, I am a sucker for anything intellectual and at Ashes & Diamonds there is a sense of getting smarter with each visit. Trust me, just go! Located on the Highway 29 corridor (adjacent to Bistro Don Giovanni), the winery is easy to access and a delightful breath of fresh air. I recommend the Classic A & D experience with wine + cheese. However, if you're feeling hungry, try the wine + food experience and you will be completely blown away. Of course, if you really just want to keep it casual, go for the picnic and you will walk away completely satisfied. Open daily from 11AM to 7PM.
As you leave the great Napa Valley, we hope you take a few bottles of wine with you. As they say, wine is poetry in a bottle. What’s more, is that we want you to remember the great experiences you have had while you visited. After you get home and open a bottle of Napa Valley wine, the memories of the time that you shared in the valley will come rushing back. We hope you remember us well and visit again soon. There are always new places to discover and new ways to make Napa Valley your own. Summer in Napa Valley is the best time to enjoy all the outdoor beauty, great wine, great food and extraordinary company.