The Best Winery ‘Food Experiences’ in Napa Valley

Yes, you could stop at Gott’s Roadside for an exceptional burger and a milkshake for napalunch, but this is the Napa Valley. When in Napa, take advantage of food-and-wine pairing opportunities you won’t find anywhere else.

Here are three of my favorite winery experiences, where the food goes far beyond a plate of cheese and crackers…

  1. Artesa Winery’s “Chocolate Indulgence”

If there is one debate in the world of wine that seems to have no middle ground, it’s the one surrounding the “controversy” over pairing chocolate with wine. Some have found there to be sublime combinations, while others proclaim, “No, no, a thousand times no!”

I have my own opinion, but I also believe in encouraging people to experiment and find out for themselves. There’s no better place to do that than Artesa Vineyards & Winery, which, among several other fun and unique wine-and-food experiences, offers a “Chocolate Indulgence” tasting daily in its Grand Salon.

For $60, you get to sample Artesa’s best red wines alongside five hand-picked chocolate truffles.

If you like what you taste, you can pick up additional sweets at the source of those treats, Kollar Chocolates in Yountville.

  1. Pine Ridge Vineyards’ “Savor Pine Ridge”

Pine Ridge was one of the first wineries I visited when I caught the wine bug, and I’ve been a fan ever since. Its “Rutherford Cuvee” was my benchmark Cabernet Sauvignon for years, and its Chenin Blanc was my favorite white wine when it included just a little bit of Viognier in the blend.

The “Savor Pine Ridge” experience is well worth the $125 price tag, especially for a special occasion. You get to taste five estate Cabernet Sauvignon wines, each paired with small bites prepared by winery chef Susan Lassalette. It’s a great way to experience how differently Cabernet can taste when grown in various sites.

The setting, in a private area of the cellar, is intimate and spectacular.

3. The Hess Collection’s “Hess Experience”

Those who love art in addition to great food and wine will find the “Hess Experience” to be absolutely mind-blowing.

It begins with a tour of the Hess Visitor Center and Contemporary Art Museum on Mount Veeder, and includes a three-course, farm-to-table luncheon. Many of the dishes are prepared with items from the winery’s culinary gardens, and each course is paired with an appropriate Hess Collection wine.

The cost is $165, and there’s no extra charge for the spectacular vineyard views.


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