Napa Wine Producers A-F
This historic winery produces one of California’s iconic Cabernet Sauvignons, Georges de Latour Private Reserve. One of California’s largest-volume producers, Beaulieu is again among the greats, thanks to winemaker Jeffrey Stambor’s renewed focus on quality. Beaulieu’s Reserve line and Appellation-tier bottlings offer good quality at reasonable prices.
Founded in 1876, Beringer is the oldest continuously operating winery in Napa Valley. Today’s Beringer wines owe much to the 25-year tenure of winemaker Ed Sbragia. Protégé Laurie Hook now oversees the portfolio, which delivers quality across a broad spectrum, from blush wine to the storied Beringer Private Reserve.
Jack Cakebread launched his winery with the release of a 1973 Napa Valley Chardonnay. The runaway success of that ripe, full-bodied wine fueled Cakebread’s growth. Today 450 acres of estate vineyards contribute to a broad range of reds and whites, and though Chardonnay remains a star, winemaker Julianne Laks also has a deft hand with Cabernet and red blends.
Caymus’s flagship wine, a Napa Valley Cabernet called Special Selection that was first produced in 1975, was one of the first cult California Cabs; it remains among the country’s benchmark reds, along with Caymus’s other Napa Valley Cabernet offering. Chuck Wagner, son of the founders, directs this Rutherford winery, which continues to concentrate on Cabernet Sauvignon.
Chappellet Vineyard & Winery
Founded by Donn and Molly Chappellet in 1967, this winery was one of the first to focus on Napa Valley’s mountain terrain. Grapes come mainly from 100 acres of vines on Pritchard Hill. The cellar-worthy Napa Valley Pritchard Hill bottling is a star; the Chardonnay and Mountain Cuvée red are also highlights.
Chateau Montelena Winery
Chateau Montelena vaulted to stardom when its 1973 Napa Valley Chardonnay famously bested prestigious white Burgundies in a 1976 tasting in Paris. It was only the second vintage for the historic Calistoga estate, which had been bought and rehabilitated by Jim Barrett. Son and winemaker Bo Barrett, who is at the helm today, displays a similarly delicate hand with oak.
Cliff Lede Vineyards
Canadian Cliff Lede’s high-end winery has been getting a lot of attention ever since it was established in Napa’s Stags Leap District in 2002. Lede enlisted French winemaker Philippe Melka and equally renowned viticulturalist David Abreu for his all-star team. Together they produce a lively, delicious Sauvignon Blanc and a range of ambitious Cabernet Sauvignons.
Tim Mondavi, who directed winemaking for his family’s legendary Napa Valley winery until its sale, works today with his sister Marcia to oversee Continuum, a superpremium project consisting of a single Cabernet-based red. Grapes come mainly from a prized estate vineyard high on Napa’s Pritchard Hill.
Cuvaison Estate Wines
This eco-friendly, family-owned winery is justly famous for its terrific Chardonnay, sourced from estate vineyards on the Napa side of the Carneros region. Winemaker Steven Rogstad works in a solar-powered facility built in the middle of the vineyard; a Mount Veeder vineyard provides fruit for two Cabernets.
Rich, layered Napa Valley Merlot and Cabernet are the best-known wines from this estate, established by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn in 1976. Spin-off brands such as Goldeneye and Migration offer Pinot Noir at lower prices. Paraduxx concentrates on unique red blends; affordable varietal wines go by Decoy.
Tony Soter founded Etude with the aim of making great Pinot Noir; he planted eight different clones and eight low-yielding heirloom varieties at this Carneros estate. Now owned by Treasury Wine Estates, Etude is still known as a Pinot Noir powerhouse, though its Cabernets and whites are sought after as well.
The late Gil Nickel and his wife, Beth, bought this run-down pre-Prohibition winery in 1979 and beautifully restored it. Lavish gardens and vintage cars offer pleasant distractions, but the wines are the real draw. Far Niente’s Chardonnay and Cabernet earn high marks—and command high prices—every vintage.
At this popular Napa winery, Janet Myers is the latest in a line of well-known winemakers, following Chilean vintner Agustin Huneeus, Justin Meyer and, most recently, Greg Upton. A quartet of mid-priced Napa Valley bottlings offer reliable quality, and the Sauvignon Blanc is excellent. The premium offerings, including the red Bordeaux-variety blend Magnificat and the Cuvée Sauvage Chardonnay, can dazzle.
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Napa Wine Producers G-P
Dedicated to crafting top-notch Napa Valley Cabernet, Kathryn and Craig Hall purchased the acclaimed Sacrashe vineyard in the hills of Rutherford in 1995. Under winemaker Steve Leveque, the winery excels with Bordeaux varieties, including a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, the iconic flagship Kathryn Hall Cabernet and a bounty of collectible wines called the Artisan series.
The Hess Collection
Switzerland’s Hess family has been in the beverage business since 1844, starting with beer. Donald Hess added bottled water and finally wine to the lineup, purchasing vineyards on Napa’s Mount Veeder in 1978. The three wine tiers include the Hess Collection, sourced from Mount Veeder, followed by the midrange Napa Series and the entry-level Hess Select line.
Honig Vineyard & Winery
In 1964, Louis Honig bought a 68-acre ranch in Napa Valley and planted grapes. He never made wine, but future generations started to. As Michael Honig, Louis’s grandson, took control of the winery in the ’80s, the crisp Sauvignon Blanc made the brand a favorite—but the Cabernet is arguably even better.
Hundred Acre Winery/Layer Cake Wines
Jayson Woodbridge’s fearless confidence made him a successful investment banker; it’s also what allowed him to plunge into the high-end wine business in 2000 with zero experience. Woodbridge’s Hundred Acre reds—three Napa Valley Cabernets and a Barossa Shiraz—are hard-to-find and expensive cult classics. His Layer Cake wines are compelling and wonderfully low-priced.
Inglenook/Francis Ford Coppola WineryThese wineries have little in common except their owner, film director Francis Ford Coppola. Napa’s Inglenook (until 2011 called Rubicon Estate) represents the rebirth of a historic winery, newly invigorated by the arrival of ex–Château Margaux winemaker Philippe Bascaules. Sonoma’s Francis Ford Coppola Winery offers affordable wines sourced from the valley’s diverse subzones and beyond.
Joseph Phelps Vineyards
Joe Phelps’s Insignia red, first produced in 1974, helped bring Bordeaux-style blends to prominence in California and remains a standard-bearer for the entire state. Helmed today by son Bill Phelps and winemakers Damian Parker and Ashley Hepworth, the winery remains focused on Bordeaux varieties and Syrah.
Louis M. Martini Winery
Founded in 1933, this Cabernet-focused Napa winery was purchased by Gallo in 2002, but the company left Michael Martini in charge of winemaking. Thanks to his talent and Gallo’s deep pockets, quality continues to improve and the top wines—such as the Lot No. 1 and Monte Rosso Cabernets—are world-class.
Located in a 1930s building along a narrow stretch of Napa Valley’s famed Highway 29, this lauded winery has been owned since the mid-’90s by the Schlatter family. Merryvale’s affordable Starmont label became so successful that it’s now its own brand, produced at a newish facility in Carneros; the winery’s prestigious Profile bottling sits at the top of the portfolio.
Pine Ridge Vineyards
Founded in 1978 in Napa’s Stags Leap District, Pine Ridge is best known for elegant Cabernet-based reds from prized estate vineyards. The winery also has carved out a surprising niche with a tasty Chenin Blanc–Viognier blend, made with grapes from Lodi and the under-the-radar Clarksburg district.