Napa Valley, California – home to the most famous wine region in the United States. In this region, you’ll find everything from famous labels like Domaine Chandon and Opus One to smaller producers like Forman Vineyards and Rattlesnake Hills Wine Company.
With so many excellent options, it can be hard to know where to start when trying to build your Napa Valley wine collection.
This guide will tell you the top Napa Valley wines you need in your collection, no matter what type of wine you enjoy drinking or how much you want to spend on these wines.
Table of Contents
- 1) Conundrum, by Screaming Eagle
- 2) Cakebread Cellars, Sauvignon Blanc
- 3) Rombauer Vineyards, Chardonnay
- 4) Far Niente Winery, Merlot
- 5) Grace Family Vineyards, Chardonnay
- 6) Continuum Estate Vineyard, Zinfandel Rose
- 7) Abrente Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon
- 8) Eberle Winery & Vineyards, Merlot
- How Does Napa Valley Wines Taste Like?
1) Conundrum, by Screaming Eagle
This cult Cabernet Sauvignon comes from a tiny, family-owned vineyard in Oakville. Only 900 cases are produced each year, so grab it when you can. Screaming Eagle also produces two other fine wines: Cashmere and Cordon Rouge.
2) Cakebread Cellars, Sauvignon Blanc
Cakebread Cellars’ Sauvignon Blanc was one of my first introductions to Napa wines, and I still think it’s a great place for wine novices (and experienced drinkers alike) to start.
The white is crisp and bright with pear, citrus, melon, and tropical fruit notes that are both bold and vibrant. The Sancerre-like flavors are perfectly balanced by a good acidity level that makes for an easy sipper.
If you like white wines that taste more like fruit juice than liquid grape (as many fruity whites can), you’ll definitely want a bottle of Cakebread Cellars on hand at all times. This Sauvignon Blanc will do just fine on its own—no food necessary!
3) Rombauer Vineyards, Chardonnay
With its bold, full-bodied flavor, Rombauer’s Chardonnay is ideal for a special meal or holiday celebration. This wine has been a favorite of mine since I was in college and it pairs wonderfully with Thanksgiving turkey or other heavy meals.
The grapes for Rombauer Vineyards Chardonnay are sourced from many of Napa Valley’s top producers, including Allen Cellars Winery, Beringer Vineyards and Cole Ranch.
Made using barrel fermentation and aged in oak barrels for 18 months, Rombauer’s chardonnay should not be missed. (This 2006 vintage scored 92 points out of 100 at Ultimate Wine.)
4) Far Niente Winery, Merlot
This is a classic California Merlot with flavors of cherry, dried fruit, leather and oak. It’s complex and full-bodied but not overpowering; it drinks like a high-end Cabernet Sauvignon but costs about as much as Pinot Noir. You can find it for under $25 in most stores.
If you drink red wine with meals, it’s an easy gateway into collecting wine that won’t break your bank (or your palate).
5) Grace Family Vineyards, Chardonnay
$20/bottle: This California winery was founded in 1882 and was purchased by Jeannette Wagner as a wedding gift for her daughter and son-in-law in 2005. Today, their grapes are organically grown on their vineyard land and provide an elegant wine that is soft, crisp, and delicious.
It’s a perfect bottle of white wine if you enjoy drinking a chardonnay that is flavorful but not too dry. I like how smooth it goes down—and I especially like how it pairs with almost any meal.
From pork chops to filet mignon, Grace Family Vineyards will enhance your dining experience without overpowering it.
6) Continuum Estate Vineyard, Zinfandel Rose
2012 – Continuum Estate Vineyard is a true classic. Aged in 40% new French oak, it opens with aromas of ripe red berries, plums, and peaches. Those notes carry into flavors of bright red.
Raspberry and strawberry preserve atop an earthy undertone that gives way to a lush mouthfeel. This balanced wine has mouthwatering acidity but finishes dry, making it a perfect daily drinker for those looking for affordable drinking but complex taste.
To experience Continuum Estate Vineyard at its peak, decant half an hour before serving and keep away from direct sunlight after opening.
7) Abrente Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon
10-12 years old and drinks best with a meal. The Cabernet Sauvignon is layered with flavors, including dark cherry, cinnamon, vanilla and wood smoke. It has a bright acidity that’s married well with food.
The wines pair well with classic dishes such as a rack of lamb or roast duck breast. Aged 18 months in 80% new French oak barrels and 20% one-year-old French oak barrels.
Released in December 2015 for $65 per bottle. Release date: Dec 2015; Bottled from: Jul 2014 ; Production: 1,600 cases (375 each); Alcohol by volume: 14%. Score: 90/100
8) Eberle Winery & Vineyards, Merlot
The 2013 Merlot from Eberle has a nice deep purple color. On the nose you’ll get hints of plum, cherry and smoke along with licorice, pepper and a touch of eucalyptus.
The wine is nicely balanced with good acidity that pairs well with lamb or salmon dishes. It can also be enjoyed on its own or with mild cheeses.
How Does Napa Valley Wines Taste Like?
If you love wine, then chances are that you’ve heard of Napa Valley. It’s no secret that Napa has become synonymous with excellence.
This region is known for producing wines that are highly sought after, not only by connoisseurs but also by wine drinkers who may not have a deep appreciation for fine wines.
In fact, many are even fans of cheap boxed wine—but there’s no denying that there’s something magical about these bottles from famous vineyards and wineries. What is it?
What is it about these wines from California’s premier grape-growing region that sets them apart from their less well-known counterparts? Is it a matter of flavor or prestige? A combination of both?
Before you start your collection, it’s important to know which wines you should focus on. Pinot noir is a good choice because it’s so versatile and pairs well with food.
A premier cru Chardonnay is another good choice because it has a reputation for aging well and can be found for relatively cheap.