Erik Neilson on March 9, 2017 0 Comments When it comes to wine regions that are household names among enthusiasts, no part of America can compare to Napa Valley. California is known as a wine producing giant pretty much across the board, but the name recognition associated with Napa Valley wine is something that cannot go overlooked. Needless to say, the area is loaded with top-notch wineries, many of which offer facility tours and tastings either upon appointment or for walk-ins. While you’ll have a hard time finding bad wine in the Napa Valley region, there are some producers that stand apart from the crowd as being experts in their craft. These are wineries that are putting out some of the best products found in the American market, and if you can’t make it to Napa to visit their facilities, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find bottles of their wine if you look hard enough. Here are a handful of producers to look for, all of which are known for releasing wines of the utmost quality. 1. Sterling Vineyards Sterling Vineyards is certainly one of the best wineries to visit for those who have never been to Napa Valley. The vineyard features an aerial tram, which takes riders 300 feet up in the air and offers a panoramic view of the area. The winery also allows visitors to take themselves on a self-guided tour, which provides a relaxed, firsthand experience that can’t always be found at wineries open to the public. The wine at Sterling Vineyards has gained a strong reputation throughout the country over the years, particularly their light, highly drinkable Cabernet Sauvignon. Interested in a white? Malvasia Bianca is sweet, crisp and one of the winery’s best offerings. 2. Chappellet Located atop Pritchard Hill, Chappellet is a beloved Napa Valley winery that sees many visitors each year. The Chappellet family has been producing wines on this particular plot of land since 1967, and the reputation of their products has only been increasing with each passing year since. It’s the rugged terroir of Pritchard Hill that lends Chappellet wines their distinctive lushness. They’re worthy of aging, and Chappellet’s Cabernet Sauvignon is considered by many to be among the finest produced in Napa Valley. Go for a tour, or simply seek out a bottle of Chappellet Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 and be amazed. 3. Alpha Omega Located on the popular main route along Highway 29, Napa’s Alpha Omega winery is difficult to miss. Alpha Omega is known both inside and outside of California for producing top-quality, single-vineyard Cabernet, and its physical footprint is one of the most beautiful wineries in the area. The tasting room is both rustic and decidedly modern, and both public and private tastings are offered. Check out Alpha Omega’s “Red Selections” to see what this winery is really capable of — you won’t be disappointed. 4. Peju Province If you’re looking for a winery where sustainable farming practices are held in high regard, look no further than Peju Province. This Rutherford winery may be reasonably small compared to many other producers in the area, but that’s not to say that the wines themselves are anything less than stellar. Peju Province Rosé is particularly enjoyable, and the winery donates 10% of profits derived from this wine to Queen of the Valley Medical Center. If you can make it to the winery for a tour, don’t skip the opportunity to taste some of Napa’s best wines straight from the barrel. 5. Twenty Rows With so many big-name wine producers operating in Napa Valley, sometimes it feels good to check out some of the more low-key, mellow options in the area — Twenty Rows fits the bill just perfectly. The winery is home to one of the most enthusiastic staffs Napa has to offer, and their laid-back attitude makes it quite clear that wine tastings don’t have to be stuffy or uncomfortable. Focusing on easy-drinking wines that are ideal for everyday, their pricing is among the best available in the area, which means there’s no reason not to bring home a case if you fall in love with what Twenty Rows has to offer. 6. Buehler Vineyards Another winery that fits the mold of “understated, yet worth checking out” is Buehler Vineyards. This family-owned vineyard offers private tours that are hosted by the Buehler family themselves, and the wines are available at an incredible value. With a focus on lush reds, Buehler produces wines that excite without being overwhelmed by hype. Take their 2013 Papa’s Knoll Cabernet Sauvignon, for example, which tastes of black fruit and barrel spice. It’s a gorgeous wine by anyone’s account, and it can be purchased for around $45 per bottle. This is a must-stop if you’re in Napa, and if you’re not, you’ll want to start seeking out Buehler wines sooner than later before people catch on and prices soar. 7. Castello di Amorosa No visit to Napa Valley is complete without a visit to Castello di Amorosa, one of the area’s most breathtaking pieces of architecture. The estate is framed by a monumental castle, which makes this a stop worth making even for those who don’t have the slightest interest in wine. Castello di Amorosa offers an impressive amount of different types of wine, though the best value can likely be found in their 2013 Zingaro Old Vine Zinfandel. At around $40 per bottle, this Zin benefits from the cool climate of the Russian River Valley in its bright, peppery mouthfeel and notes of deep red berries. It’s the perfect place to take a family, but if you’re unable to make it to Castello di Amorosa’s gorgeous physical location, you’ll be able to find their wines online if you look hard enough. While a trip to Napa Valley is the best way to see firsthand what the area has to offer, simply drinking wines from any of the above wineries is a good place to start if you’re unfamiliar with Napa. There are plenty of high-priced bottles out there, but with a bit of education and experience, you’ll learn how to spot great values over time.