Napa's Most Beautiful Wine Tasting Rooms
It's not just about the Cabernet anymore. Napa Valley famously produces some of the country's most prestigious wines, notably its muscly Cabernet Sauvignons and its bold Chardonnays, but its winemakers are hardly resting on their viticultural laurels. Napa's finest tasting rooms are also great destinations for design. At Merus winery, a cult Cabernet producer, the winery founder's own UXUS Design firm created the minimalist tasting room, where an eclectic row of lamps appears to flow down from the ceiling to illuminate the tasting table. Robert Mondavi, one of the first vineyards to put Napa on the map, features a rotating selection of works from local artists in its tasting room and throughout the vineyard property. And at The Hess Collection, where founder Donald Hess first began collecting art in 1966, a staff curator looks after works by 20th-century artists from the abstract expressionist Robert Motherwell to the figurative painter Francis Bacon.
Photo courtesy of HALL Rutherford.
The subterranean tasting room at HALL Rutherford, built with limestone and reclaimed 19th century Austrian bricks, is situated directly below its Sacrashe Vineyard. More than 35 pieces of contemporary art are on display here, but the focal point is the eye-catching chandelier, representing a grapevine root system and accented with 1,500 Swarovski crystals. hallwines.com
Photo © Curt Fischer.
This gorgeous winery opened in 2008 at the very top of winding Spring Mountain Roadsome 2,000 feet above the valley floorfor tastings of its graceful, ageworthy Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Its circular tasting room, with wraparound glass walls, offers pristine views of Mount Saint Helena. vineyard7and8.com
Castello di Amorosa
Photo © Jim Sullivan.
It took fourth-generation Italian winemaker Dario Sattui 15 years to construct his replica of a 12th century Tuscan castle, inspired by the medieval architecture of northern Italy. Beyond the high stone walls, drawbridge and moat, Satturi's vineyards are planted with Cabernet, Merlot, Primitivo and Sangiovese grapes. The wines are served in subterranean tasting areas beneath the castle. In the main tasting room, the Roman cross-vault ceiling and floors are made with centuries-old bricks from Austria's Habsberg Dynasty; all fixtures from the lighting to the Italian oak doors are hand-hewn or hand-forged. www.castellodiamorosa.com
The Hess Collection Winery
Photo © Robert Russo.
This carefully restored, century-old Mount Veeder winery reflects the twin passions of founder Donald Hess: art and wine. The 13,000 square feet of loftlike space on the second and third floors functions both as a phenomenal tasting room and separate gallery space housing part of Hess's collection of late-20th-century pieces. hesscollection.com
Photo © Erhard Pfeiffer.
For their boutique winery, Dana Johnson and Mark Nelson hired an all-star production team (consulting winemaker Michel Rolland, vineyard manager David Abreu). They also hired an all-star architect, Howard Backen, who constructed Ovid's elegantly simple 2,000-square-foot tasting room with exposed beams and floor-to-ceiling glass. ovidwines.com