At Beau Wine Tours, we love sharing the natural beauty of Napa Valley with our wine tasting tours. From world-class art galleries and sculpture gardens to meticulously tended flower beds and arbors, not to mention the rolling vineyard greens and golds, there’s plenty to show off! But some of the most stunning sights in California wine country can be found atop the ridges and vistas of the mountain ranges and foothills on either side of the Napa Valley–the Mayacamas to the north and west, and the Vaca mountains to the east.
Below, you’ll find some of our favorite mountain wineries, where the elevation creates memorable views and distinct flavors in varietals grown on steep slopes above and below the fog line. Each one makes for a great stop on your Napa Valley wine tasting adventure, and we look forward to sharing them with your group’s wine tour!
2920 Spring Mountain Rd
St Helena, CA 94574
Fantesca was founded by two college sweethearts who wanted, after early corporate careers, to start a new project together. They were entranced by the character Fantesca from comedia dell’arte, love interest to the archetypal Harlequin character. She’s known to be smart, sexy, and unpretentious–exactly what they wanted from their wines! For their project they recruited Heidi Barrett, creator of premium Napa Valley cult wines; today, Fantesca offers the only Chardonnay to be made by Barrett! Among their other offerings are an unforgettable estate Cabernet Sauvignon, distinctive Pinot Noir, and a proprietary red blend. The estate itself boasts olive trees, bee colonies, and the winery, in addition to a vineyard originally planted more than 150 years ago! The wine cave built into a hillside of Spring Mountain is rumored to have been an abandoned silver mine, and its naturally cool environment is perfect for aging fine wines.
Since the production of Fantesca wines is so limited—only 3,000 cases per vintage!—and the estate set up for only intimate tours and tastings, appointments are required, and may be requested on the winery’s website. The Chardonnay is described as round and lush, with a touch of French Oak, while King Richard’s Reserve Pinot Noir is aromatic and silky in texture. Their “All Great Things” series is a proprietary red blend, each vintage named for one in a series of “great things” from a famous Winston Churchill quote: “All great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.” Of course, the main event is the Estate Cabernet, which must be tasted to appreciate the full expression of Napa Valley mountain farming!
2121 Diamond Mountain Rd
Calistoga, CA 94515
With vineyard elevations at just under 2200 feet, CONSTANT Diamond Mountain Vineyards is able to produce complex, delicately flavored, rich red wines, distinct in the Napa Valley. But the estate’s gorgeous setting doesn’t quite hint at the storied history of the vineyard, which stretches back all the way to 1895. Even earlier, Andras Andrew Rasmussen immigrated from Denmark to America at the age of sixteen, where he meant to take up ranching in Omaha, Nebraska, with a relative. From there, he moved to San Francisco, where he attended night classes after working full days, and finally, took up with the wine industry in Napa Valley at age twenty. There, he learned on the job with a series of wineries, until he was able to purchase 120 acres in 1895. He cleared a quarter of them for his own planting, and kept cultivating vineyards for the wine industry until he died in 1932. When Fred and Mary Constant finally acquired the property from Rasmussen’s descendants, they figured they would do the same–farm grapes to sell to others–but the fruit was so good, they decided they’d have to make their own wine as well. CONSTANT has been releasing vintages now for more than 20 years.
CONSTANT wines have a great pedigree when it comes to winemakers—first, French ex-pat Philippe Melka, proprietor and winemaker for his own line of Melka wines, and now, Paul Hobbs, whose resume includes both Robert Mondavi and Opus One! Though the company is no longer owned by the Constants, their reputation for excellence and distinctive, high-elevation flavors continues. Their lineup includes four red bottlings—a Syrah, a Cabernet, a Cab Franc, and a Claret, but the wines are only available by allocation. (You can join a waiting list to get in line for future offerings.) The Syrah is noted for its huge flavors, while the Cabernet is so carefully cultivated on the vine and in the winery, only 500 cases are made. The Claret is a unique blend of Napa Valley and Sonoma County fruit, resulting in soft textures and delicate flavors. Request a wine tasting appointment today to try these unique, exclusive bottlings!
1120 Deer Park Rd
Deer Park, CA 94576
On the gorgeous hillsides of famous Howell Mountain, Viader Vineyards farms complex, high elevation vineyards for their highly sought-after wines. A multi-generational family business, Viader has created and maintained a vision for the company originally engineered by Delia Viader, also known as the “Wine Mother.” Born in Argentina, Delia grew up in Europe but came to the United States as a young (but already very accomplished) woman. She achieved a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Sorbonne, and studied business as a post-graduate at MIT, UC Berkeley, and UC Davis. She then funneled her energy into developing Viader Vineyards, but she didn’t stop there. While she is the original winemaker and still a driving force at the winery, she also serves as an industry leader for two Napa Valley wine organizations, where she handles fundraising, event planning, and general management of major local endeavors. She is assisted by her son Alan, who has studied viticulture both in California and around the world, and who now works for the family company managing vineyards and offering expertise to all aspects of wine production.
Viader wines, first released in 1989, have grown to encompass four separate labels: first, Viader, which includes the signature proprietary blend created by Delia, nicknamed “Liquid Cashmere” for its soft, rich texture. There’s the Black Label, described as a “powerhouse red cuvée” and the “V,” a Petit Verdot blend. Finally, the DARE bottling showcases a single-varietal Cabernet Franc. To enjoy a wine tasting of these lauded Napa Valley wines, you’ll have to request an appointment with Viader’s tasting room manager, but it’s well worth the effort. Every wine tasting at Viader includes a private, seated flight, as well as a tour of the Howell Mountain winery and caves.
Often, passionate connoisseurs fall in love with the Napa Valley, but for Sue-Marie and Ron Haber it was Howell Mountain from the beginning! They were thrilled to purchase a 5.5-acre site there in 2005, but they knew the experience was key, and so sought out famed vineyard managers Barbour Vineyards LLC to develop the mountainside vines for their future label. In the meantime, they sourced unique fruit from well-known vineyards on nearby Diamond Mountain, which they continue to use to this day, resulting in a wonderfully diverse lineup of high-elevation, Napa Valley wines in addition to a popular Chardonnay sourced from Sonoma County grapes. At Haber, the bottle design is as much a reflection of the proprietors as of their brand, reflecting their family business prior to wine, W & W Glass, LLC. The logo shows a view of Napa Valley mountains as seen through window panes and is meant to evoke the feeling of serenity the Haber’s experience from their Howell Mountain vista.
In order to taste these fabulous, mountain-grown wines, you can visit the Brasswood Estate in St. Helena, though wine tastings are by appointment only. You’ll want to make sure your snag yours ahead of time because these wines are not to be missed! They are available for purchase by allocation only; Cabernets from both Howell and Diamond Mountains are included in the current release, as well as the Chardonnay and a red blend. You can sign up for the allocation list here, but don’t delay–there’s a waiting list!
501 White Cottage Rd N
Angwin, CA 94508
ADAMVS takes mountainside grape growing and winemaking to a whole new level! Based on Howell Mountain, the wine label pursues true harmony with the vineyards to create delicate, sophisticated Cabernets from world-class, high-elevation fruit. ADAMVS makes use of the meticulous but demanding biodynamic method of farming (as well as certified organic practices) to tend the vineyards from both the heights and forest depths of Howell Mountain. As described by the winery, biodynamic farming carefully observes the “rhythms and cycles of nature” through a holistic approach, one that uses integrated farming to keep soils and crops healthy and thriving. Beyond that, ADAMVS tries to observe the biodynamic philosophy to make every aspect of their business environmentally friendly. Proprietors Denise and Stephen Adams used their experience farming Saint-Émilion’s Grand Cru Classé Château Fonplégade in Bordeaux to renovate the parcel they purchased on Howell Mountain in 2005, aided by winemakers Philippe Melka and Kathryn Carothers, as well as viticulturalist Michael Wolf.
The red soil slopes of their property have produced some truly stunning wines, which can be enjoyed in wine tastings at the Cypress House and Wine Library. Tastings are primarily offered to mailing list members, so be sure to sign up ASAP! The current release includes three distinct Cabernets, each a unique reflection of the ADAMVS’s philosophy to honor the land, the soil, and the rhythms of each growing season.
To fully explore Napa Valley, Beau Wine Tours encourages its guests to try new regions; none are quite as stunning to the eye or the palate as these spectacular mountain wineries! Contact us today to try these and other unique wineries in the Napa Valley!