One important thing to remember when visiting the Napa Valley is that it’s not just about the wine. All of the wineries have premium quality wines, but what really sets some apart is their impressive architecture and design. With about 400 wineries in the Napa Valley it is worth making the time to visit some of these masterpieces. Here are some of my favorites:
From its unique building design, to its spectacular 360-degree views, extensive pairings and excellent wines, Artesa Vineyards & Winery should be on your list for a special day out in wine country. This really is a wow-factor winery, from the building design, to the incredible views from the hilltop – you can even see the San Francisco Bay on a clear day. Artesa is located in Napa Valley’s Carneros region and is owned by the largest producer of Cava in Spain, Codorníu.
Artesa Vineyards & Winery, 1345 Henry Road, Napa, CA 94559
The 13th century castle-winery is the result of owner Dario Sattui’s passion for Italy, medieval architecture and wine. It took Sattui, a 4th generation Italian winemaker, 30 years to build the castle. (He also owns V. Sattui Winery on Highway 29). The castle is made up of 107 rooms, complete with a dungeon and torture chamber, as well as a wine cave spanning 15,000 square feet.
On the website Sattui in his own words reminds us why a castle makes sense: “For it must not be forgotten that, aside from being defensive fortifications, throughout history and in modern times, many of the great wines in Europe have and are being made in castles.”
4045 St Helena Hwy, Calistoga, CA 94515
More of a Persian palace than what you’d imagine to be a Napa Valley winery, this surprising piece of the Middle East was packed when I arrived. I could see that beyond the exciting theme, and glamorous tasting room, people were really enjoying themselves, being entertained and transported to a different place. It all made sense when I learned that owner Darioush Khaledi grew up in Shiraz, a wine region in Iran, and today his winery design is based on Persepolis, the capital of ancient Persia.
4240 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558
Probably one of Napa’s grandest and most regal wineries is Domaine Carneros. Perched on a hilltop overlooking Carneros and Highway 121, you’ll find an elegant château, an ode to sparking wine’s French heritage and an experience that will feed your romantic fantasies of wine country.
Feeling up to speed with “Méthode Champenoise” after my visit to Reims and Épernay earlier this year, I was excited to see what a little French influence can do for Napa Valley. Domaine Carneros is of course jointly owned by the famous Champagne brand, Taittinger (Tattanjay) and the Kopt family (owners of wine marketing company Kobrand).
The wow-factor is certainly the château, a replica of the Taittinger château in Champagne, France. A glorious terrace wraps around the building, leaving plenty of room for seated tastings outside in Napa’s often warm weather. Inside, an elegant salon seemingly ready for a royal visit is also a haven for tastings.
1240 Duhig Road, Napa, CA 94559
Unveiled late last year, the “reimagined” winery and Visitor’s Center combines both the old and the new; a sophisticated tasting room, a historic Napa Valley building dating back to 1885, a modern art collection both inside and out, and, of course exquisite wines.
The first thing you’ll notice about HALL is its huge sparkling new rabbit sculpture on Highway 29. “Bunny Foo-Foo” is one of the incredible works of famed artist Lawrence Argent, who also did a similar installation at the Sacramento Airport.
The historic Bergfeld Building is a real gem. I learned it was built in 1885 by a sea captain from New England. It was completely covered by the Napa Valley Co-op building for more than 100 years until the building was taken down in 2011.
401 St. Helena Highway South, St. Helena, CA 94574
Amongst the tussocks on a little hill in Napa’s Stags Leap District you’ll find the tasting room and winery, complete with gold domes. It has a quirky, strange, but fun personality oozing all over it, from the exterior, to the barrels and vats.
This is of course the only Friedensreich Hundertwasser-designed building in America. It’s also home to The Red Wine of Stags’ Leap Ranch in Napa Valley. Hundertwasser was an eccentric Austrian artist/architect whose designs are famous in Europe, but after a visit to the winery, this is not something you’ll easily forget.
6126 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558
What are your favorites? Which wineries do you think are the most architecturally interesting in the Napa Valley?
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