IntroductionWine is one of my passions; I strive to incorporate my passions into my day to day and professional life comprising what vintner Michael Polenske eloquently calls, “the business of leisure”, or more simply put – invest in what you love. And I’ve picked up a few more quotes over the years from Napa wineries or vintners – “Ne Cede Malis” (Never give in to misfortune), inscribed in a window at Stags’ Leap Winery, a quote that winemaker Steve Reynolds uses to refer to one of his wines, something like, “the difference between success and failure is persistence” and a nice one from Tegan Passalaqua, “Persistence will always win over intelligence …”.
To the best of my knowledge a project of this magnitude has never been personally conducted in Napa. I am aware of the authors of A Moveable Thirst who visited 141 mostly walk-in Napa wineries, a few locally based tour guides, and certainly a number of select wine tasters and wine writers who have visited and reviewed many Napa wineries. But no one who on this scale, has personally taken the time to meet with representatives from each winery, visit the winery if there is one, include photos if applicable, taste the wine and then compile all this information into individual winery reviews. And we continue to make hundreds of revisits annually to continue to update this site.
And we take this project on the road with numerous trips involving both cars and flights – to any space or place that is very strongly connected to wineries within Napa Valley – within California, domestically or abroad. Examples may include wineries owned by a Napa vintner that are outside of the Napa Valley which is the most common reason for our outside of Napa Valley visits), gravesites of prominent Napa wine personalities, childhood homes, prominent vineyards, streets named after Napa vintners, gold mines, art museums, wine shops, college buildings named after Napa vintners, standalone tasting rooms, performing arts centers, numerous vintner owned businesses including restaurants and resorts and several other obscure and eclectic connections that we have uncovered in our extensive research of Napa Valley based wineries (IE., a cooper, a national park, a research center, a sporting goods store etc).
For winery visits outside of Napa Valley, priority is given to those wineries owned by a Napa Valley based winery (a good example would be Alpha Omega’s Perinet Winery in the Priorat Spain). Priority is also given to winery companies which are based in Napa Valley but own multiple wineries outside of the Napa Valley. An example would Napa based Crimson Wine Group. Lesser priority is given to wineries outside of Napa Valley whose parent company is not in Napa Valley but owns a winery within Napa Valley. A good example of this would be Moët & Chandon (based in Champagne, France) but owns Domain Chandon in the Napa Valley but also own other wineries in select countries around the world. And some companies with wineries in Napa Valley are just so large we will never visit all wineries and properties under their ownership, IE, Boisset Estates, GALLO, Foley Wine Estates, Jackson Family Wines, Trinchero Family Estates, to name but a few.
Corrections regarding incorrect information within any of the winery listings, or updates should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org (include the winery name and the type of correction or update). We greatly appreciate these updates via email. Please do not phone in updates or corrections. We do not remove reviews, so please do not request this, although if a winery is no longer producing wines in Napa Valley for whatever reason, we do archive reviews. Due to the scope of this project and the *rapidly* changing wine industry (especially when the economy is strong), updating is a major part of our work on this site.
Things change remarkably fast in regard to wineries in Napa Valley that it is often difficult to keep up. We make our best effort to discover changes: revisiting wineries (very often), browsing wine shop inventories, subscribing to winery mailing lists, attending trade, educational & wine tasting events including select release and harvest parties, talking to many people in the industry, reviewing numerous related blogs & websites and social media channels, watching wine related videos, reviewing restaurant wine lists both online and in person, as well as spending considerable time in Napa Valley; this is where the osmosis kicks in.
What about photography on the site?
We take all the photographs on this site (with extremely few exceptions). If you are a Napa winery and you would like to use any photos we have taken of your winery for any use – feel free to do so. If you are Paul Franson, also feel free to do so. Everyone else, please ask for permission first OR simply credit us. It’s not hard to do.
The following is a list of businesses or websites that have used our photographs; we have seen at least one of our photographs used in each of these publications.
7×7 Magazine, A Must Read Blog, Bravo Your City, Brojure (YPO), Cellar Pass, CRU Wine Bar, Cultured Vine, Dave’s Travel Corner, Ficofi, Helena View Johnston Winery brochure, Ian Blackburn, Ilikethisgrape.com, Insider.com, Napa Tourist Guide, Napa Valley Life (article and a separate Monticello winery ad), Napa Valley Insider, Napa Valley Uncorked, Napa Valley Wine Group (FB), Paul Franson’s Napa Valley Life, Premiere Napa Valley, Priority Wine Pass, Serendipity Wine Distributor, The Angela Edit, Tish Around Town, Travel Notes, VinoVisit, Visit Calistoga, We Said Go Travel, Wine Cellar Park, Wine Folly, Wine Pig, Wine Traveler, Wine-Searcher, Yelp and on numerous social media platforms.
Have you broken any wine glasses on this project?
The answer is 2. We are averaging one broken glass per every approximately 600 “new” visits. Our apologies to Quixote and Toquade. And one TSA safe 100ml bottle. Sorry Stephanie 🙂
How do you publicize this site?
Word of mouth helps increase interest in the site through a variety of individuals including local concierges and drivers. We have passionate consumers who read our reviews which leads to buying decisions. We maintain a mailing list – all members receive notice of any new reviews posted to this site. A number of wineries use the site as a resource and refer their clients to it. Napa Valley Vintners Association have helped us secure appointments with Napa wineries not yet reviewed on this site. Napa wineries often link back to our review and or share it with their mailing list or wine club members.
How do you handle reviews of collectives?
We have written individual reviews of all collectives currently open in Napa Valley. Collectives taste wines from multiple vintners. We do not just show up and taste through each wineries wine at the collective and then do the review based on this – rather we contact each vintner directly for a private tasting – then we write a separate review for that particular winery. As an absolute last resort, if we are unable to taste with a representative from the winery, we will taste and conduct our review in the physical collective facility.
How about tastings?
We attend a variety of trade and consumer tastings to stay updated on the pulse of the local industry. We attempted to write several initial reviews of wineries at these tastings however tastings are definitely not conducive to this purpose. As a result, we soon learned to exclusively use tastings to follow up with previously visited wineries and to make new connections. Many people who go to tastings try labels they are familiar with. Not us, when we attend tastings, we seek out new Napa labels and or wines we have never tried.
We update tasting notes through a variety of methods including purchasing wine, visiting wine collectives, revisiting numerous wineries for tastings, and through the graciousness of others who either donate wines to us or allow us to Coravin bottles. One such individual we want to thank in particular, is Tom Jarman of Destination Napa Valley, a premium tour company based in Napa.
What published resources do you use?
These are just a very few of the printed or online resources we often reference.
Napa Wine, A History by Charles Sullivan, The Winemakers Dance by Jonathan Swinchatt & David G. Howell, Ghost Wineries of Napa Valley by Irene W. Haynes and Napa Valley Then & Now by Kelli White. We also reference online collections at The Napa Wine Library, St Helena Historical Society, the Napa County Historical Society and the UC Berkeley Bancroft Library digital collection. We use Ancestry.com and Legacy.com. Also, the Napa Register, the St. Helena Star and a big thanks to Katie Migliavacca for turning us on to newspapers.com.
Is your Napa winery not yet listed?
We are continuously looking for small Napa Valley based producers to interview who are not yet listed on this site. You must make wine in Napa County, with at least some of your production from grapes grown in Napa Valley. We give priority to Napa Valley based producers with the majority of their production from Napa Valley vineyards. Please email email@example.com to setup a mutual time where we can meet and taste. The more information you can offer during our meeting, the more detailed and resourceful the review will be.
There are two requirements for any review on this website.
- I meet a representative from the winery in person, and
- I taste the wines.
Meetings usually take place at the physical winery, the owner or winemakers’ home, winery office or in the vineyards. A typical meeting takes between 60 and 90 minutes, but can certainly take longer, and in countless cases, it has.
How many commercial wine producers are there in Napa?
We have identified more than 1,100 unique active commercial wine producers in Napa County. We know there are more that we are not even yet aware of! Note that about 60% of these are “virtual” producers and do not have a Type 02 license. More information and the entire very often updated database of total commercial Napa wine producers is found the bottom of our Project Notes page.
There are very roughly about 100 commercial Napa wine producers we have not yet visited – indicated by the absence of an “X” in the NWP column in our master database. The number of physical Napa Valley based wineries we have not yet visited is most likely under 40. Can you get us an appointment with any of these producers who we have not yet tasted with? Are you a Napa winery owner who we have not yet met with? We would be very grateful for any help – email: firstname.lastname@example.org