2023 CA Road Trip: Napa

Sep 8, 2023by Andrew Lowry

LWC went on a road trip through some major wine regions in CA!!! We’ll be recapping each of our stops to share where we tasted and how to navigate each area. First stop: NAPA!

What kind of wine is Napa known for?

Short answer - Cabernet Sauvignon.

Napa was put on the world map as a reputable wine region because of Cabernet Sauvignon. About 45% of the grapes planted in Napa are Cabernet Sauvignon! Of course, there are other fantastic varietals but you’re likely to find a cab at almost every winery. Some of the other varietals that you are likely to find are Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, and Chenin Blanc for whites and Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir (Carneros only), and Bordeaux blending grapes like Petit Verdot, and maybe some Malbec.

Where we tasted:

CHAPPELLET

 

This is one of Napa's most respected and long-lived wineries. The second winery to be founded after prohibition by Don and Molly Chappellet. (Molly is still around and we are very lucky to have run into her at the winery!)

Chappellet specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon from the Eastern mountain range on what is called Pritchard Hill. They produce a very small amount of Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc (Molly's favorite grape) on the property as well. These wines are hard to beat, but definitely come with a hefty price tag — They've earned it. 

GHOST BLOCK

 

Ghost Block is a family owned vineyard, where their wine production business is more of a passion project than money making business. Their primary business is growing quality grapes and selling them to vineyards in the valley. There are many big hitters that purchase their grapes from the Ghost Block vines!

Although the wine making is not their main business, their wines are absolutely delicious! Their long history in farming high quality grapes allows them to produce high quality wines.

LONG MEADOW RANCH 

 

We started our experience on the mountain top! We had a private table overlooking Napa valley accompanied with a great tasting through their Estate wines (Chardonnay, Sangiovese, and two separate vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon) and some charcuterie. In addition to the planned tasting, we were able to try some of their Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc.

After our tasting, we headed down to their restaurant called Farmstead. There is an additional tasting room here, but we went straight for the food! We were seated among vines and garden where produce for the meal was grown. It was absolutely gorgeous and the fresh food could not be beat!

FROGS LEAP

 

We started our morning tasting at Frogs Leap. The estate itself is a beautiful home, and it is only enhanced by the surrounding gardens and vineyards. Frogs Leap prides itself in organic and biodynamic farming their vines and produce.

Following the tasting, you are able to choose a glass of wine and walk the grounds. We could’ve stayed here forever, but had places to be and more wine to drink ;)

GRIGICH

Just rated one of the top 100 wineries of the world by Wine Enthusiast!

You’ve probably seen this name in a store while wine shopping. This winery is a Napa Valley legacy that has been producing wine for over 40 years.

The wines here are classic and sure to please any drinker. We opted for a table with glass service. We had a larger group, so this allowed us to catch up in a more casual setting and for everyone to choose the types of wines that they enjoy. Of course, we tasted each varietal and loved them all!

SCHRAMSBERG

Schramsberg’s claim to fame: when Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 1969 was served at the State dinner “Toast to Peace” hosted by President Richard Nixon for the Premier Zhou En-lai in Beijing, China, marking the first time Schramsberg or any American wine was served at any White House or State event, at home or abroad. This toast to peace ended the U.S.-China Cold War disputes.

We toured through their endless caves filled with literally millions of bottles of sparkling wine. They stack their bottles so precariously that you feel as if they could all come tumbling down at any moment. If there is ever an earthquake they surely will.

  

In the darkness of one of the cave outcroppings, and by candlelight, we tasted their 2017 blanc de noir and then went through two non-vintage blanc de blancs, two blanc de noirs, and one sparkling rosé. The wine, of course, being one of the top producers in California for sparkling wine was delicious — they make their sparkling wine just like Champagne does, the methode traditionelle. But no, it still isn’t as good as Champagne, but it comes at a very attractive price point. And it’s local!

REGUSCI

 

This is a Lowry family fav! Andy’s parents visited this winery in their early days of marriage, and Andy and Madi visited on their honeymoon. It was only right that we come here every time we’re in Napa. This time, we secured a table in their garden with 6 of our friends and purchased a few bottles to share. We tasted their Rose and 2019 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The views of the Stags Leap district at Regusci are stunning! As mentioned, we tasted in their garden which consisted of the most vibrant flowers and flourishing produce. You can find a few restaurants in Downtown that source their produce from this garden.

A few places we ate (and drank):

Compline Restaurant and Wine Shop - experienced sommeliers with a killer wine list and a blend of French and American food. 

Angele - upscale French restaurant on the Napa river

Model Bakery - French bakery in Downtown Napa. Get there early to snag some of their famous English Muffins!

Gott's Roadside - Burgers and so much more! We stopped at their St Helena location between wine tastings, but there is an additional location in Downtown.

Petit Soleil - American style breakfast in a cute cottage in Downtown Napa.

Napa Yard Beer Garden - Beer garden and kitchen in Downtown Napa. Located on the edge of Downtown, this expansive beer garden is a great place to hang out among the trees, drink, and play yard games!

Archer Rooftop Bar Sky & Vine - Rooftop Bar in Downtown Napa with views of the valley on all sides! Yummy cocktails and snacks.

Farmstead at LMR - Farm to table restaurant nestled along the vineyards in the middle of Napa Valley, owned by Long Meadow Ranch Winery.


Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.