Boeschen: My wife went to college with the wife of the winemaker. Took her about five years (and countless trips to Napa) to let me know this. Once she did, we visited the next trip. Really nice wines (the Sauvignon Blanc and the Cabs were very nice) and a beautiful property and winery. Appointment Only.
Cornerstone Cellars: Located in the town of Yountville, Cornerstone should be a stop on just about any visit to Napa Valley. I think they do their best work with Bordeaux varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc), but they also have very nice Pinot and Chardonnay whose fruit they source from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Wines at just about every price point, and one of their least expensive wines (a Rosé of Syrah) is one of my favorites. Tasting Room.
Cosentino: My first ever wine club, so I certainly have a soft spot for Cosentino. The winery went through a tough time financially, but seems to have straightened things out. For a small winery they sure do make a lot of different wines. Right next to Mustard’s Grill in Yountville. UPDATE: I am not impressed with the direction of this winery–quality has suffered and customer service is impersonal. I would avoid this former favorite of mine.
Failla: On Silverado Trail just south of Saint Helena. My favorite tasting in Napa. Incredible Pinot Noir, Syrah and Chardonnay. You need to make an appointment, but it is one of the most intimate tastings you will ever have. Some of the nicest people I have met in the wine industry work at Failla. Ask for Kathy, she’s a gem. Appointment Only.
Morlet: Started just a few years ago by Luc and Jodie Morlet. Luc comes from a family of Champagne producers (woot!) but produces only still wines (at least for now?). He used to be the winemaker at Peter Michael and his wines are simply mind-blowing (and not cheap). Without a doubt, the single best tasting I have ever had (and I have had a ton). Appointment Only.
Mumm Cuvée Napa: The second wine club I ever joined. It was started by the Mumm of Champagne fame, but long since sold. I love sparkling wine (my own motto: “If it doesn’t sparkle, it doesn’t matter.”) and Mumm Napa does a nice job. Sure, it’s a big, humongous outfit and seems to get sold every third week, but it is a beautiful spot on Silverado Trail and a nice change from the still wines up and down the valley. Tasting Room.
Van der Heyden: At the southern-most end of the Silverado Trail, another one of the first few wine clubs I joined. Tiny little tasting room and the owner is Dutch (not really well known for wine), but I always enjoyed the wines, which age well. Famous for his late harvest cabernet, but don’t discount the other wines. Tasting Room.