The many vineyards of Napa Valley
A vineyard is a kind of farm, but it is like no other kind of farm. While all farmers worry about weather and soil quality, not even in Idaho has anyone ever been invited to a potato farm for a french fry tasting. Wine may have begun as something people drink to quench their thirst or get drunk, but it has long since become an art form, in which soil, sun, wind and rain are balanced against different varieties of grape to bring each variety of wine to its own perfection.
With so many different wines grown just in the Napa-Sonoma area, figuring out which are the best vineyards in Napa mostly depends on what sort of wine you’re thinking of. In the coolest parts of the valley, Pinot Noir and Merlot grapes can be grown. The hardy Cabernet Sauvignon grapes can grow in all parts of it, but produce better vintages where the microclimate is just right.
There are about 400 wineries in Napa Valley. The best vineyards in Napa have tasting rooms where both the newer and older wines can be tried for a reasonable fee, paired with artisanal cheeses or other gourmet dishes. Bigger vineyards have scheduled tours, whereas smaller ones can generally be toured by appointment. When you visit a smaller vineyard, chances are the person you’re talking to would normally be doing work, rather than somebody assigned to the task of looking after visitors.
The best time to visit is fall or spring, so as to avoid the crowds. (Yes, the vineyards can get crowded with tourists. They’re that popular.) In the fall, you get to see the harvest — the downside of this is that everyone will be very busy, and you might be in the way.
One of the best vineyards in Napa near St. Helena
Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards in Napa Valley, a 10-minute drive from downtown St. Helena, is one of the best vineyards in the Napa Valley area, widely known for their Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux blends. Their Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and non-malolactic Chardonnay also have a cult following. It holds tastings in its barrel caves, where current releases and library wines may be sampled and visitors can learn all about the process of making and storing the wine. Cave tastings are $65, but one tasting fee can be waived by joining their wine club or making a $100 purchase.
Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards produces world-class wines at affordable prices. The vineyard is a 40-acre estate just south of Howell Mountain, and has been owned and operated by the Anderson family since 1983. Anderson’s wines are sold online and in five locations in Napa Valley, and many other locations nationwide. Order a bottle today.