Napa Valley: Best Wineries for Napa History Buffs

Interested in the history behind Napa Valley and the evolution of the wines you are tasting? IntoWine.com has scoured Napa to find the wineries that devote attention to the history of Sonoma wine country. The list below is in no particular order nor is it by any means complete (given the long list of wineries that shaped Napa).

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Madonna Estate Napa - For Napa history buffs, Madonna Estate is a must stop. The original winery was founded by a bona fide Italian immigrant during one of the earliest waves of Napa vinification, in 1922. After being sold in the 1970s, a new iteration of Madonna was founded by some of the family heirs just a few years later. Today, they boast the distinction of representing four generations of winemaking. Read more...

Regusci Winery Napa - Napa history buffs will appreciate the status of Regusci Winery as a “ghost winery,” that is, one that has its roots in the early Napa winemaking of the 19th century. Read more...

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Napa
- For anyone who’s studied up on the key moments in Napa wine history, the Spurrier tasting of 1976 sits in high relief. The Paris tasting was a bona fide pitting of French against American wines, organized to showcase the superior quality of the French winemaking talent. To everyone’s surprise, the winner of the blind tasting was none other than the 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars SLV Cabernet Sauvignon. Read more...

Heitz Cellars St. Helena -
Heitz Cellars is the poster child for small, family-owned, traditional Napa wineries. Originally founded in 1961, its newish wood-and-stone tasting room exudes charm, with a fireplace that’s flanked by two inviting leather chairs (and, on occasion, a dozing min pin), as well as a sturdy wooden table that serves as the tasting counter. Read more...

Grgich Hills
Rutherford -
One of the most familiar names in Napa, Mike Grgich enjoys the status of Croatian immigrant turned celebrity after the coup he scored as winemaker of the winning California chardonnay in the Paris Tasting of 1976. Read more...

Raymond Vineyard & Cellar St. Helena -
Home to Napa’s oldest continuing winemaking family, Raymond enjoys a history with deep Napa roots. Their story dates back to ties with the Beringer legacy, with co-founder Roy Raymond Sr. starting work in the Beringer cellar in the early 1930s. Read more...

Merryvale St. Helena - With lots of shopping, a wood-centric décor, mini art gallery in the back and an extensive tasting bar, the Merryvale winery clearly caters to the Napa tourist. The building has the distinction of being the first winery erected after the end of Prohibition, so Napa history buffs will appreciate its legacy, and those planning a private or corporate event will find the cask room, lined with a double tier of century old, 2,000 gallon wooden casks, utterly charming. Read more...

Charles Krug Winery St. Helena - With the distinction of being the Napa valley’s first winery, (founded in 1861) and incorporating Native American techniques into their first vintages (see the apple press), Charles Krug allows visitors to enjoy a taste of the early days of the valley in the mini-museum located in the back room. Its historic cache was further embellished several decades ago, when Peter Mondavi came along and acquired the winery. Read more...

Freemark Abbey St. Helena (first female owner/operator) - This historic winery enjoys the distinction of having been founded by Napa’s first female winery operator, Josephine Tychson. Josephine and her ailing husband purchased land, planted grapes, and built the first winery on the site in the 1880s, under the name of Tychson Cellars. Read more...

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.