St. Helena Wineries Must See List
Top 5 Must-Visit St. Helena Wineries
What does “the best” really mean? When you ask to see the “best of” St Helena or Napa wineries, do you mean the largest? The most popular or famous? Those that have won the most awards or been around the longest? Perhaps you’re talking about those that simply make the best-tasting wines. There’s a wide range of what qualifies as the “best.”
But we can help you with the “must-see” vineyards. The vineyards that offer a wide range of wines, top-notch wine tastings, sometimes tours of their vineyards, award-winning wines, and of course, world-class customer service. These “must see” vineyards aren’t all on the “best of” magazine lists, but they all are worth your while. Each of these vineyards have customer ratings (on sites like Trip Advisor, Google Reviews, and similar consumer reviews sites) of 4.5 or greater, with fantastic reviews from previous visitors. Be sure to put these on your to-do list when creating your customer limo wine tour of St. Helena and Napa Valley.
For more than 100 years, these family owned and operated vineyards and winery have produced a wide variety of grapes, wines, and wine blends. From merlot to zinfandel, chardonnay to syrah, Ballentine Vineyards draws on the family’s Italian and Irish roots to develop unique and valuable wines in a surprisingly affordable range of prices. In addition to wine tastings, Ballentine Vineyards are open to tourists, so be sure to schedule enough time during your visit for a stroll through these amazing vineyards with the friendly, passionate Ballentine staff to hear about their ancestors’ plight of pioneering the West, surviving Prohibition, and forging a marketable wine for the future.
Frias Family Vineyard
Frias Family Vineyard prides itself on producing unique wines that help people enjoy and appreciate the finer aspects of life. Definitely, this world could use a bit more of that. Frias produces several amazing wines, including cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and merlot. But Frias’ vineyards have another claim to fame outside their brilliant wines — they very well may be the first Mexican-American owned vineyards and winery in the Napa region. In 1977, way before Napa Valley became the little Bordeaux or Tuscany of North America, the Frias father-son team was able to raise enough money to purchase 100 acres of this rich farmland. But it wasn’t until 1985 that the family took a chance on wine and planted a mere 5 acres of vineyards. Today, there are still only 13 acres dedicated to growing grapes for wine; the rest of the Frias farmland is devoted to the preservation of the plants and wildlife that call Northern California home.
Sometimes great brands fall into decline, and rebuilding the former quality and reputation can be as challenging (or perhaps more so) than developing a solid name from the ground up. Such is the case with Laparita Cellars in St. Helena. This winery was among the first in Napa Valley to include the origin of the vineyard on the label. It was also the first California wine to take a gold medal at the 1900 Paris Exposition. These early accomplishments were largely a result of William Keys, a geologist who realized back in 1880 that this farmland had all the qualities of other excellent wine-producing regions, such as Sicily. Laparita reached its winemaking heyday as the 1900’s drew to a close, but in 2006, Spencer Hoopes bought the land hoping to revive this legendary brand. The concepts used to produce the award-winning wines over 100 years ago are employed there again today. According to Hoopes, “We are reawakening William Keyes’ dream for Liparita.”
Prager Winery & Port Works
On a limo wine tour of St. Helena and Napa Valley, you’ll likely visit a range of vineyards and wineries — from the Mom & Pop shops like Frias to the immense and grandiose farms and wineries such as Castello di Amorosa in nearby Calistoga. But most specialize in wines and wine blends. Fewer of them offer hearty port wines. Prager Winery & Port Works first opened its doors in 1979, and remains a quaint yet accomplished family-owned vineyard and winery. Prager produces vintage port, white port, tawny port, petite syrah, and late harvest Riesling table wines. Their tasting room is also a bit unique, hidden in a garden setting. If you want a few rustic wineries on your winery tasting tour, be sure to put Prager on the list.
Savestrin Winery isn’t just a vineyard and winery. For 84 years, totaling four generations, the Salvestrin family has hosted St. Helena and Napa Valley visitors with fine wines, event hosting, and a grand inn. Using earth-friendly, sustainable farming practices, they have produced 155 consecutive grape harvests, and the soil remains healthy and productive. Unlike many of the family-owned vineyards and wineries out here, Mr. Salvestrin is not only the owner, he’s also the winemaker. Salvestrin produces several wines, including: sauvignon blanc, Retaggio Estate, cabernet sauvignon, petite syrah, Sangiovese Cavaso, and their unique Three D Cabernet Sauvignon: named for their three daughters: Hannah, Emma, and Tessa.