Nestled at the foot of Sugarloaf Ridge, Chateau St. Jean's idyllic 250-acre estate fills with the soft hush of broad grape leaves rustling in the sun. Hedges of waxleaf privet shelter well-manicured gardens, where firework-like bursts of hydrangea sway beneath courtyards and tasting rooms. Winemaker Margo Van Staaveren strolls among the trellises, checking on the grapes, which hang heavy with sugar on the vines. She has spent the last 32 years overseeing the harvests at Chateau St. Jean, producing wines that have earned significant praise and awards. Wine Spectator gave the St. Jean Cinq Cépages cabernet sauvignon 93 out of 100 points, calling it “complex, layered, elegant and refined, with cedar cigar box, tobacco, currant and black licorice—trim and tapered.”
The wines fuel jocund chatter in the fully restored chateau, which was originally constructed as a summer home in 1920. In private rooms as well as outside on the sun-drenched deck, glasses click together with the soft jingling sound xylophonists make in their sleep.
Sprouting from the remnants of a kosher winery in Green Valley, Cahill Winery expanded production to a variety of traditional reds, whites, dessert wines, and vinegars. The varietals are sourced from regions around California such as the North Coast and the Alexander Valley viticultural areas. German shorthair dogs and livestock welcome guests to the winery, where the Payne family has cultivated an organic garden and struck a champagne well that erupts from deep within the earth.
Schweiger Vineyards' passionate oenophiles cultivate varietals from 62 acres of volcanic soil using solar-powered technology. Vineyards Estate tours commence with an abridged chronicling of the grape plantation's yesteryears as guests sip house-made chardonnay, with hints of pear, citrus, and oak, and inhale the aromas of lemongrass and pensiveness in the sauvignon blanc. Expeditions then journey through the tank room and on through Schweiger’s underground cellar as adventurers sip flutes of merlot, with cedar and black-pepper notes, and sample a cabernet with a finish as smooth as a velvet pillow coated in shortening. The tour guides at Schweiger Vineyards suggest toting along cameras to capture their breathtaking views that overlook Napa Valley at elevations of up to 2,000 feet.
Benziger Family Winery hosts daily tram tours that depart on the half-hour from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with the exception of noon. Imagery Estate Winery hosts tastings Monday–Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.