a wine country guide to calistoga and st. helena

Joe and I recently spent a day in wine country exploring new wineries we hadn’t previously been to. We started the day with a biplane ride over Napa Valley from Cloud 9 Living. After that, we headed over to Calistoga and St. Helena and had the best time. Since these regions are a little bit farther than Napa from San Francisco, we don’t go to these two areas as often, but I may have to argue that it’s the prettiest area to drive through in all of Napa Valley! Tons and tons of gorgeous vineyards, with views unblocked by traffic or busy roads. Something about both Calistoga and St. Helena definitely steals my heart.

This trip we visited Fairwinds Estate Winery in Calistoga, which is the tasting room for not only Fairwinds itself, but also Kenefick Ranch Winery and Highlands Winery. We met with Chris Kenefick, who heads up sales and marketing for Kenefick Ranch Winery. His dad is the owner, who was a doctor in San Francisco before moving up to Napa and purchasing their property in 1981. Chris gave us a private tour of the grounds. We especially loved the wine caves, where they often host events or dinner parties with live music - such a cool experience!

Chris and Terry (who runs the tasting room) gave us a private tasting of both Kenefick Ranch and Fairwinds Estate wines. They taught us a lot about how each wine’s grapes were grown and the flavors to look for. I love wine (more than I should probably), but I still completely consider myself a total wine newbie because it’s so complex that there’s just so much to learn. I doubt I’ll ever be a master, but our experience here was very fun and educational. The down to earth staff complimented the amazing wine well - Joe and I felt like we were hanging out with old friends.

The wine here was on the next level. Some of the best wine I’ve tasted in awhile. We bought a bottle of the Fairwinds Estate 2013 Cabernet Sauvingon Reserve to drink on NYE because it was absolutely delicious and we wanted something special!

Next, we headed to St. Helena for a group tasting at HALL Winery. I am sure you recognize this winery if you’ve ever driven through the area, because it’s the one with the giant rabbit out front. While Fairwinds Estate is a boutique winery, HALL Wines is massive - both wineries are awesome, yet very different experiences!

HALL Wines is such a large winery, producing 100K cases of wine each year. They just remodeled their tasting and production facilities - it’s super modern and unbelievably gorgeous. The multistory building has a great view of the rows and rows of beautiful vineyards. This would be an awesome place to come to and spend an entire day because there’s a cool patio you can hang out on.

After HALL, we headed directly across the street to V. Sattui. V. Sattui is so cute and known for it’s Italian marketplace, wine and picnic lawn to hang out on. It has a full market, so we snagged some sandwiches and bought a bottle of their wine (they’ll uncork it for you and give you plastic cups to enjoy outside on the lawn with picnic tables!)

We had the best time in wine country! If you’re planning a trip to Calistoga or St. Helena soon, you should definitely check out the places mentioned above and a few others:


Fairwinds Estate Winery (Kenefick Ranch + Highlands wines poured here too)

Chateau Montelena

Castello di Amorosa

Jericho Canyon Vineyard

Solage Resort and Spa

Calistoga Spa Hot Springs and Mud Baths


HALL Wines

V. Sattui Winery

Rutherford Ranch Winery

Long Meadow Ranch (and Farmstead restaurant at Long Meadow Ranch)

Meadowood Napa Valley

Napa Farmhouse Inn

If you’re in the mood for some unique wine country activities like bicycle wine tours, biplane rides, or food tours, I definitely recommend heading to Cloud 9 Living’s site too (and read more about my biplane ride experience here).



This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own.

Next, check out my Napa Valley Biplane Ride experience!

#wine #travel #northerncalifornia #usa #california #napa #northamerica


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