Hot Spots

What Not to Do in Napa Valley

by Christina Henry

Don't…
Buy on the spot

Purchasing wine directly from the vineyards is all part of the fun: You taste, you like, you buy. You get to admire the sunny hillsides where the grapes were grown. You directly support the vintner who produced the wine. And when you serve your souvenir bottles at your next dinner party, you have a convenient excuse to brag about your trip. The trouble is, not every winery has its own tasting room.

Instead…
Shop around

Save some time (and wine budget) for the small artisanal producers that aren't open to the public—and whose wines you can't find elsewhere. Silenus Vintners' tasting room outside of Napa is the place to go for small-batch wines from a dozen or so vintners (ask about the Matthiasson 2009 white wine, a blend of sauvignon blanc, ribolla gialla, sémillon, and tocai Friulano). Also on-site are picnic tables and a bocce court, in case you'd like to stay a while. Napa Vintner's Collective (pictured), housed in a historic building in downtown Napa, sells a curated selection of bottles from high-end boutique makers, some of which produce as few as 75 bottles a year. The French Laundry's sommelier has been known to poke around here.

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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