Highway 29 runs through Napa County, beginning near the top of the San Francisco Bay ambling northward through the most famous winegrowing region in America. The 29 takes you through the City 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 dozens more. 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 the Napa Valley wine story.
My favorite route through Napa is California Highway 121, aka Silverado Trail Road. It too runs North-South through Napa County. In fact, the Silverado Trail runs parallel to Highway 29 for nearly 30 miles, along the Eastern edge of Napa Valley.
This beautiful road is studded with amazing wineries, perhaps a little less well known but just as interesting and enjoyable as those on Highway 29. The views are simply stunning. The vineyards are wide and expansive with row after row of hillside vines looking down on the valley. If you are in the mood to avoid crowded tasting room, busy parking lots and tourist buses, then the Silverado Trail is the best way to experience real Napa Valley viticulture.
Silverado Trail wineries include Rombauer Vineyards, Robert Sinskey Vineyards, Rutherford Ranch, Silverado Vineyards, ZD Wines, Conn Creek, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Signorello Vineyards, Quintessa, Paraduxx, William Hill Winery, Mumm Napa, Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Clos Du Val and many other excellent wineries.
Here, on the serene side of Napa Valley you will discover new wine dimensions in the creations of very talented winemakers—many of whom 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.