Depending on what sort of wine tasting experience you’d like to have in Napa Valley, small family-owned vineyards have a lot to offer without the pretense or glamor associated with larger estates. Although some of these vineyards are smaller or lesser known than others in the area, they are all considered premium wineries that offer a personal touch to your wine tasting adventures. Here are the five top small, family-owned Napa Valley wineries today.
- Vineyard 7 & 8
Originally from New Jersey, a longtime married couple owns this small, family-operated vineyard, along with one of their sons, and a minimal, tight-knit staff. After its doors opened in 1999, Vineyard 7 & 8 has since hosted many wine related events, such as Winepalooza and multiple Trail Tasting events, which will both be happening again this fall. Their wines highlight the Spring Mountain District of St. Helena, California, considered to be part of the Napa Valley wine region. Vineyard 7 & 8 is open for tours during weekdays and by appointment only, considering the family lives on the property and must prepare for guests.
- Morlet Family Vineyards
A 4th generation French wine maker named Luc Morlet and his wife Jodie run the Morlet Family Vineyards in St. Helena, an area known as the heart of the Napa Valley wine region. This small, family vineyard prides itself in its cuvées, or wine mixtures, and the harmony that they have created in them. This vineyard has gained so much attention recently, however, that visiting has now been limited to mailing list members. It is worth becoming a member, as you will be personally guided through the grounds by the Morlet’s themselves.
- Ceja Vineyards
Ceja Vineyards stands out among other vineyards in the region in that it boasts three generations of Mexican-American, Sonoma county wine makers. More importantly, this family is dedicated to sustainable farming and loves to educate their guests on the impact of climate on wine making and taste in a warm and friendly manner. Ceja’s signature wines contain grapes that stay on the vine longer and are in a slightly cooler climate, which gives their wines a unique flavor. Visit the Ceja Vineyards website for more information about the family, wine making process, and how to plan a visit the next time you’re in Napa.
- Buehler Vineyards
Like other small, family-operated wineries in Napa Valley, Buehler Vineyards is open weekdays by appointment only due to the family living at the property. In some instances, you may be lead on a tour by the owner himself, a fourth generation vintner. The limited schedule should not be a deterrent, especially if you’re looking for an authentic and personalized wine tasting excursion. This winery is known for its Zinfandels and Cabernet Sauvignons, and some reviews say that up to 7 tastings are complimentary. Make sure to bring a camera because Buehler Vineyards offers picturesque Napa Valley views that you will want to remember forever.
- ZD Wines
Along the famous Silverado Trail of Napa Valley lies an unassuming vineyard named ZD Wines. ZD stands for Zepponi and De Leuze, the original winery founders, who built this small and friendly establishment in the 1960s. Known for their Pinot Noirs, ZD Wines will offer you tastings of full-bodied and rich, woody wines, along with their lesser-known Cabernet and Syrah varieties. Make sure to visit on a Saturday when ZD offers cheese and wine pairings put together by local artisans.