Historically, driving along the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley used to be quite dangerous, considering most of, if not all, wine tasting in the area was complimentary. Wine enthusiasts would stop by as many wineries as they could in that day, enjoying free wine tastings at each and every turn. Due to the negative consequences of the drinking and driving, today, when traveling through Napa Valley, it is necessary to budget for tasting and entry fees. However, there are still a couple of options for complimentary wine tastings along the way. Complimentary in this case does not equate to cheap, either. Notable Cabernet Sauvignons and Zinfandels will delight your palate at any of the following wineries. Visitors and critics alike have sung their praises about the vineyards listed below.
- Buehler Vineyards
One of the most notable vineyards in Napa Valley is owned and operated by the Buehler family, which is headed by John Buehler, Sr. Mr. Buehler retired in 1971 after a life of engineering and business and fulfilled his dreams of becoming a winemaker. Known for their Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel wine varieties, the Buehler Vineyards wine tastings will not disappoint. This small, family-owned property is open Monday through Friday only, so make sure to call ahead. And bring a camera because the wine tasting is not the only thing that’s complimentary: take in spectacular views of the famed Napa Valley as well.
The Smith of Smith-Madrone refers to Stuart and Charles Smith, the brothers bearing the namesake of the now-famous wine they began producing in 1971. Madrone refers to a type of tree that grows on their property; specifically, an Evergreen tree that bears small red berries each fall. The rust-colored and rocky soil at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains allows splendid growth for the brothers’ vineyard. The Spring Mountain district in St. Helena is an often-missed area of Napa Valley. Don’t miss out on the great views and complimentary tastings at the Smith-Madrone winery.
- Heitz Wine Cellars
Offering complimentary wine tastings since 1961, Heitz Wine Cellars produces six different varieties of wine for you to experience on your Napa Valley journey, including their famous Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Heitz has also decided to limit its production output to 40,000 cases per year as to keep the land sustainable and quality high. The Heitz family home is located on the grounds alongside their charming cellar made of grey stone, which houses French Oak barrels full of aging wine. There’s no appointment necessary and the winery is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week.