Home » Gastronomic Travel » Napa Valley – Top 10 Winery Experiences Part 1
Napa Valley  – Top 10 Winery Experiences Part 1

Napa Valley – Top 10 Winery Experiences Part 1

Napa Valley Tom

I love cooking and eating food, so I tend to prefer wines that pair well with the food. My favorite Napa Valley wineries produce wine with balanced flavors that pair well with rich food. Below are my winery recommendations from my most recent trip. This is my Top 10 Napa Valley wineries, organized by the categories  “Rock Star Wineries”, “Great for Picnics.”  Part Two of this series will cover, “Great Views”, “Great Tasting Rooms”, “Off the Beaten Path Wineries.”    Which are your favorites?

Previous Napa Valley Gastronomic Tour Posts

Napa Valley Gastronomic Tour – Understanding Napa Valley Regions

Napa Valley Gastronomic Tour – Top 10 Winery Experiences Part 2

My Favorite “Rock Star” Wineries

Cakebread Cellars

8300 St Helena Hwy,   Rutherford – Hours: 10:30-4:00 pm 

Tasting Fee: Starting at $15 –Reservation Required – www.cakebreadcellars.com

Napa Valley Cakebread signCake Bread is one of the cult wineries in Napa Valley that has developed a strong goodwill from loyal wine drinkers and they have the goods to back up their name. Just like any cult, this winery stays off the grid. Advanced reservations are a must.

The reservation system is in place to ensure each guest receives a semi-private tasting experiences. With a very limited number of people present at your tasting bar, you will get heavy personalized attention. We really enjoyed our tasting experience and had the opportunity to discuss the wines, pairings, baseball and history of Cakebread Cellars. This is winery is a must for your next visit because of the friendly service and amazing wines.

Napa Valley Cakebread Cellars BottlesMy favorite wine was their Chardonnay Reserve.   The flavor of the wine is butter cookies, roasted apple,  and pear. The wine has citrus, cinnamon and vanilla aromas. This was one of the better wines I experienced on the trip.

Napa Valley Cakebread tasting

Great customer service and amazing wines at Cakebread Cellars


Flora Springs

Tasting Room: 677 S. St. Helena Highway/ HWY 29   Hours: 10am-5pm

Tasting Fee: Starting at $20 – Walk-ins Welcome – www.florasprings.com

Napa Valley Flora Springs Tasting Room ExteriorFlora Springs is one of those bucket list wineries that you have to visit during a trip to Napa. Why? It is a combination of their superior wines , friendly service and great setting. You have two options for Flora Springs, their fancy tasting room in St. Helena or their estate winery. The estate winery is a longer adventure with a two hour tour and tasting; in comparison, the tasting room is straight-up tasting. The staff at Flora Springs are very friendly and are a wealth of knowledge about wine.  The wines at Flora Springs are very balanced and in my personal opinion, the best wines in Napa for my palate.

Napa Valley Flora Springs TrinityMy favorite wine was the Trilogy,  this is the wine that made Flora Springs famous among wine lovers. It is made with a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec. This wine is smooth and balanced between fruit flavors, tannins and character. If this wine was a supermodel, it would be Bar Rafaele.

napa valley Flora Springs Tasting Pour

Flora Springs is a true rock start among Napa Valley Wineries


Wineries with Great Wine and Perfect for Picnics


Gundloch Bundshcu

2000 Denmark St., Somoma Hours: 11am-4:30pm

Tasting Fee: Starting at $10 – Walk-ins welcome www.gunbun.com

Napa Valley Gundlach Bundschu EsateWe first tasted this wine at a the Vintage Steakhouse in San Juan Capistrano and fell in love it ever since.  This winery has been about 155 years and is still operated by the same family. Although this winery is technically in Sonoma it is tucked at the border of Napa, Sonoma and Carneros growing regions. This winery is a scenic side trip if you are staying in Downtown Napa. This property has a rustic tasting room, wine cave tastings, and offers a tour around their expansive property in a Swiss army vehicle. This place is great for picnics. They sell Italian meats, cheese and bread (and wine) that can be enjoyed on their picnic tables overlooking scenic views. We enjoyed a great lunch of prosciutto, bread, guyre and wine over a view of the lake.

Napa Valley Gundlach Bundschu Tasting RoomMy favorite wine at Gundloch Bundschu is their 2010 Syrah-Cabernet Sauvignon –  This wine is a great blend providing sweet and savory flavors, complex and elegant just like me. The flavor of this wine was a perfect paradox of bacon, roasted coffee bean, chocolate, and ripe blackberries.  This wine tasted like some of my favorite dishes. 

Napa Valley Gundlach Bundschu Picnic

We had an amazing and relaxing picnic at Gundloch Bundschu



1111 White Ln, St.Helena  – Hours: 9:00am-6:00pm 

Tasting Fee: Starting at $10, Reserve: $15 (cheap) –Walk-ins Welcome www.vsattui.com

Napa Valley Vsatui OutsideLocated in St.Helena, at the border of Rutherford, V.Sattui is known for good wines and a great place for picnics. V.Sattui has something for everyone from wine tastings, deli and market, and picnic grounds. This is a great place to unwind after an afternoon of wine tasting. Keep in mind that outside food is not allowed on the property, although the market has a lot of options to make a great picnic. I liked the wines at V.Sattui especially the 2009 Vittorio Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon has the aroma of cocoa powder and earth and has the flavors of berries, oaks and sweet herbs. I picked up a couple bottles along with freshly made sandwiches and fruit prepared by Chef Sainato.

Napa Valley Vsatui deli

V.Sattui has one of the better deli shops on the Napa Trail


About Tom Holmberg

Tom grew up in a cultural diverse neighborhood and a culturally diverse family, so he has learned to appreciate all types of food. "I am not a Chef, nor do I play one on T.V., but I have learned to appreciate food from years of eating and cooking." Tom also spent 10 years in the restaurant industry in various roles, from Prep Cook to server.


  1. Alexandra McAllister

    OMGoodness! Tom, you always share such awesome pics and places! Love them all! I think a great wine and pic nik go together so well! :) Thank you! I enjoy reading all your posts.

  2. Looks like a lot of fun! Making me want a nice glass of vino!

  3. I love the cheeses!

  4. Carla J Gardiner

    I’ve only been on one tour of the Napa Valley Wine district. It was very educational and I learned I am not a wine connoiseur. However, it is amazing how cheese adds to the tasting experience.

  5. Elizabeth Maness

    You sure do make we wish I lived close enough to go to these Wineries. You are giving these people great exposure! When I get back out there I’m going to have to visit!

  6. Hi Tom, thank you for taking the time to make this list. I am bookmarking this page for when I visit the Napa Valley. You and Danielle look like you had a great time at Cakebread Cellars : )

  7. Meryl Hershey Beck

    Those cheeses look tummy! You always have such great information on places of interest. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Amazing share Tom! I am not much of a chef but I may spend more time investigating:)

  9. Love it Tom…hum, wondering how this might work as a List.ly list to get you more exposure? I haven’t looked for this kind of information within that site.

  10. This is fabulous! You’ve inspired me to create a trip to wine country with friends.

  11. Ooh, someone to guide me. It’s usually stick a pin in the map for me visiting wineries up there when I go alone, though I usually end up in St. Helena. I’m actually going to be up in the area this coming weekend, shall check out your recommendations. Thanks.

    • Rossandra,
      I am so happy that this post helps with your trip! When possible try to book the cave tastings. It takes time and a little extra $, but the memories are priceless.

  12. Norma Doiron @Explode Your Business ONLINE!

    I’ve never seen someone have so much fun at what they do! Tom, you guys are AWESOME! I want to have a job just like you do when I grow up… tee-heee!!! Good job, great pics, the wine… what else could you ask for… :)

  13. Oh, Cakebread is a favorite! Isn’t that chardonnay reserve amazing? I always love your posts, Tom. Thanks for sharing.

  14. I’m not much of a wine drinker, but I’d love to do one of these tours just to check out all the beautiful wineries. :)

  15. Lisa Frederiksen - BreakingTheCycles.com

    Such beautiful country and wonderful descriptions of the various wineries – thank you!

  16. I loved this trip & I definitely want to go back again soon! It was so cool to visit all of that fabulous places we did. Great write up my love!

  17. Wow, thank you so much for the details, now I know where to go if/when I go to Napa Valley.

  18. Nothing makes cruising through a wine region better than having a list of great (and unusual) places to visit. And your lists are terrific! Thanks, Tom!

  19. It is always nice to see what other people like when there so so many wineries around!

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