Highway 29 runs through Napa County, beginning near the northern shore of the San Francisco Bay ambling North through the most famous winegrowing region in America. The 29 takes you through the towns of Napa, Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena and Calistoga. In less than an hour, you can complete a bedazzling drive passing by Napa’s most famous winery estates from Domaine Chandon, Robert Mondavi, Cakebread Cellars, Charles Krug, St. Supery, Sutter Home, Franciscan, Beaulieu Vineyard, Grgich Hills, Freemark Abbey, Heitz Wine Cellars, and Markham Vineyards to Opus One, Merryvale Vineyards, Beringer, Sterling and Chateau Montelena. Of course, the point is not to drive by but to stop off and explore the famous tasting rooms, tours, shops, restaurants and all that the 29 route has to offer to visitors. It’s fun and exciting but there is much more to Napa Valley wine story.
The serene side of Napa Valley
My favorite route through Napa is California Highway 121, aka Silverado Trail Road. It too runs North-South through Napa County. In fact, it runs nearly parallel to Highway 29 for nearly 30 miles, along the Eastern edge of the county. The Silverado Trail is also studded with amazing wineries, perhaps a little less famous, but just as enjoyable. And the scenery is beautiful. The vineyards are wide and expansive with hillside vineyards looking down on the valley. And if you are in the mood to avoid tasting room crowds, busy parking lots and tourist buses, then the Silverado Trail is the best way to see real Napa Valley viticulture.
Silverado Trail wineries include Rombauer Vineyards, Robert Sinskey Vineyards, Rutherford Ranch, Silverado Vineyards, ZD Wines, Stag’s Leap Winery and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Signorello Vineyards, Quintessa, Paraduxx, William Hill Winery, Mumm Napa, Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Clos Du Val and many others.
Here, on the serene side of Napa Valley you can still discover new wine dimensions in the creations of very talented winemakers, who are moving beyond marketplace standards, and using the rich, fertile terroir of Napa appellations to craft some of the best wines made anywhere in the world. In the coming weeks and months, we’ll bring you tasting notes and recommendations on our favorite Silverado Trail wines.
If you absolutely can’t wait… here is one Silverado Trail gem to get started.
Rated 91 by Robert Parker
The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Artemis is laced with sweet red berries, plums, flowers, mint and cloves. It is an attractive, medium-bodied wine to drink over the next decade plus, once the tannins begin to soften. Today the 2010 is a bit compact. The Artemis is made from both estate and purchased fruit. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2025.