Wine Bottle Art

Diane Selmi – Wine Bottle Art

If you’re looking for a special gift for one of your wine lover friends, an original wine bottle art painting by Diane Selmi might just be the perfect choice.

Diane started painting unique wine bottles 10 years ago when she retired after a long career as a travel agent. She saw a picture of bottles in a magazine and was taken by the explosion of colors and reflection. She had just added a small studio to her house and was starting to paint other subjects, when she put everything aside and began composing wine bottles. She enthusiastically experimented with shapes, placement, light and color.

wine bottles as art


Each label is chosen very carefully and is a painting in itself. Diane began giving her paintings as gifts, and as they were seen by others, she started to get requests for commissions. The idea of personalizing the labels came to her very early on. Diane has included the names of family members, pets, boats, favorite places, as well as favorite wine bottles in the compositions.

It’s hard to believe that Diane has had no formal training in painting, but she says she recognizes a future painting when she sees a subject that has the light and color she loves. She has sold many of her paintings and has made notecards to sell or give as gifts.

wine bottle art


Diane paints with acrylic and has painted on canvasses 24X24 to 48X60. The paintings are unframed and prices range from $500 to $2500. She does not currently have a website but can be reached on Facebook or by emailing:


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    Napa Valley Travel News

    All the Napa Valley travel news that’s fit to make your Napa Valley wine country getaway a good stay.

    St.Helena Shuttle

    st helena shuttle serviceDid you know that the town of St. Helena has a shuttle service? This shuttle service works slightly different than the Calistoga shuttle that we mentioned in a previous article on our blog. During the week, the St. Helena shuttle offers a fixed route, but the service is also available “on demand.”  Travelers must call during business hours to secure their pickup. The shuttle runs until 11 pm on Friday and Saturdays. Weekdays, the shuttle service ends at 6 pm. If you are staying within the city limits of St.Helena, you can call the shuttle and arrange a pickup and drop off. It is $1 per person each way. What a deal. Shuttle Information

    New St. Helena Restaurant

    The Farmer and the Fox is open for dinner. The restaurant is north of St. Helena, maybe a mile or so beyond the Culinary Center. It is tucked away on the left as  you drive towards Calistoga. The area used to be an outlet center. Now it is the Cairdean Estate. We have not eaten at the restaurant, but peeked inside, and the place looks very inviting. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 707-302-5701 or at Farmer & Fox Website. The restaurant is open daily from 5 to 10 pm. The bar features 8 wines on tap, 8 beers on tap, and imaginatively-crafted artisanal cocktails. The executive Chef is Joseph Humphrey,  well known for his days at Auberge du Soleil and The Restaurant at Meadowood

    farmer and fox restaurant

    Farmer and the Fox in St. Helena

    Cooking Series at HALL Wines

    hall cooking and food seriesHall Wines in Rutherford will conduct a cooking series led by culinary expert David Katz. Each series will provide a unique look at pairing newly-released HALL Wines with the best of Napa’s artisan products and fresh, seasonal produce. Here are the sessions at Hall Rutherford. Information David Katz.

    Summer 2014: July 17th, 5-7pm, $115 per person, $100/HALL Members

    “Pizza on the Patio”

    Pizza is an obsession in Napa Valley for good reason. With the flavor, texture and aroma of freshly cooked pizza dough as a starting point, we can find beautiful partners for a broad pallet of wines. Learn how to make perfect pizza dough by hand, and taste simple combinations that sing with HALL Wines. These recipes will showcase local summer produce, artisan cheeses, fresh fish, and meats.

    Fall 2014: Sept. 25th, 5-7pm, $115 per person, $100/HALL Members

    “Harvest Season Hors d’Oeuvre”

    Harvest season brings some of our favorite local foods to the table. We’ll turn this bounty into hors d’oeuvre and antipasti that pair beautifully with selected HALL Wines, and discuss the complement and contrast that give wine and food pairing texture and interest.

    Winter 2014: December 4th, 5-7pm, $115 per person, $100/HALL Members

    “Holiday Entertaining”

    Sit down to four small-plates that showcase holiday-season entertaining ideas with HALL Wines. We’ll taste a vegetarian soup, fish, fowl and meat courses, as we explore the critical roles of body and acidity in wine and food pairing.

    New Restaurant to Open in Napa

    CADET will open in downtown Napa on July 2nd at the location between First street and Franklin Alleys. Colleen Fleming of Kelly Fleming wines in Calistoga and sommelier Aubrey Bailey will collaborate on this restaurant. CADET means “trainee.”  The name reflects the idea to try something new each day that reflects something exceptional from California cuisine and beyond.

    In addition, CADET will be offering educational classes and other special events such as Industry Nights, Winemaker Events, Ladies’Nights and Community Lunches, where public service professionals such as firemen, school teachers and city workers are celebrated for their contributions to the community.

    Bailey states, “Our wine and beer list highlights wines from every region in California, not just the Napa Valley. This is a chance for people–locals and visitors alike–to explore and to discover what else is out there, what the winemakers are drinking, what historic vineyards or grape varieties are being revived, experimental beer making, etc. Basically a reminder of what California has always stood for: diversity.”


      Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen without Cindy

      We took a very quick overnight trip to the Napa Valley to view a house that a family relative is considering purchasing. On the way, we stopped in St. Helena for lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen. Several weeks ago we read in the S.F. Chronicle that Cindy Pawlcyn had been in a car accident. The newspaper report indicated that Cindy suffered minor injuries. We asked our server how she was doing. She stated that Cindy’s injuries were extensive. She spent several weeks in the hospital and will not return to her kitchen for perhaps as long as 4 months. Our meal was excellent, but we felt something was amiss at the restaurant. Cindy is obviously missed by all. We wish Cindy a speedy recovery.

      piquillo peppers stuffed

      Stuffed piquillo peppers

      A Visit to V. Sattui

      Sign in tasting room

      Sign in tasting room

      I am always amazed at the number of folks who visit this winery and buy wine in huge amounts. I wonder, as probably winery owners in the Valley do, how it is that Dario Sattui is able sell all his wine out of his tasting room. None of the Sattui wine is distributed. The tasting room is a bevy of activity. Our server was efficient and knowledgeable. He knew each Sattui wine like the back of his hand. Impressive, to say the least. By the way, visitors can try one complimentary taste of wine, otherwise it is $15 to taste a lineup of several wines. We had previously tasted the Sattui wines as well as the wines from Castello di Amorosa, Dario’s newer winery located near Calistoga. The overall quality of the wines is very high. Winemaker Brooks Painter is the winemaker for both wineries. The St. Helena tasting room has a cheese and deli shop where visitors can purchase food items and head outside for a picnic lunch. No outside wine is allowed (understandable) and no outside food. I think that is a bit stiff on the food control, but it seems to work because the expansive picnic area is very busy. I need to do more digging into the tremendous success of Dario Sattui and his wines.

      Calistoga Tidbits

      In the late afternoon we walked along Lincoln Avenue, the business area of Calistoga. Since our last visit, there are a couple of new tasting rooms in town and one new restaurant. Do you remember Wappo, a restaurant with an eclectic menu? It closed down several years ago, but recently reopened as 1226 Washington. The menu looks great and, at the W.H. Smith Tasting Room, our server highly recommended it. We will give it a try the next time to Calistoga.

      At the W.H. Smith tasting room, we shared a tasting of 6 wines for $15. The wines were all delicious but expensive. The Sauvignon Blanc was $28. The lineup of Pinot Noir wines was fantastic, but again expensive. Our favorite from the Sonoma Coast was above $50.

      Solbar Restaurant at Solage

      This is the top restaurant in Calistoga. The restaurant is situated in the beautiful and luxurious Solage resort. We had a lovely dinner outside in the warm evening air. The food, wine and atmosphere were excellent. Surprisingly, we found the service lacking. Slow, slow, and slower was our experience. For example, our party ordered a second bottle of wine and it took 10 minutes to arrive. The check including tip came to $390 for four.

      The Solbar restaurant at Solage Resort

      The Solbar restaurant at Solage Resort

      Calistoga Cab Hopper

      I would like to recommend this little taxi company that serves the Calistoga area. They are pricy at $5 a mile, but Calistoga is a small area. As it states in the brochure, taking the Hopper is more fun than spending a night in jail. We called the Hopper from the Solbar, and within ten minutes they were there to take us to our destination. I previously posted an article about the presence of Uber in the Napa Valley. However, they are not as yet servicing the Calistoga area of the Napa Valley.


        Napa Valley Travel Tibits

        Travel season in the Napa Valley is in full swing. Vineyards are green and trimmed, and wildflowers are still in bloom. The weather is clean and bright, so head to the Napa Valley and take in the Spring season in all its glory. Here are a few travel tidbits for the Napa Valley in the coming weeks.

        Napa Valley Travel

        Third Annual Summer Solstice Concert – Clif Family Winery

        June 21st at Velo Vino, The Grove Valve Orchestra plays up a storm. The band features funk, rock, and soul. Bring your dancing shoes. Wine and food will be provided. The Clif Family winery and its Velo Vino tasting room are located in St. Helena. Tickets are limited for this event. To purchase tickets:
        Note: due to the high demand of tickets, we encourage all who are interested in attending the evening’s event to book tickets now. The concert sells out within days of this announcement.


        Artist René Romero Schuler at Chimney Rock Winery

        Artist René Romero Schuler will make her Napa Valley debut with an exhibit at the Chimney Rock Winery on the Silverado Trail. The exhibit is entitled “Cameo,” which is in reference to the abstract figures showcased in Romero Schuler’s oil paintings. The exhibit comes to Napa through A Partnership Between Artist and Artisan, a collaboration between Romero Schuler and Terlato Family Vineyards that includes limited hand-painted wine bottles. The exhibit runs Thursday, May 1 to Thursday, Nov. 13 at the Chimney Rock Winery located at 5350 Silverado Trail.


        Hall Winery celebrates Sauvignon Blanc Day

        On May 16, it’s international Sauvignon Blanc Day. In celebration of this social media event, Hall will be announcing the release of its 2013 Sauvignon Blanc. Guests, upon asking, will receive a complimentary glass of Hall Sauvignon Blanc. If you are in the area, why not stop in at the Hall tasting room and give the newly released wine a try!

        Looking to buy a vacation home in the Napa Valley?

        Just a little bit out of my price range, but there are two quite luxurious houses currently for sale in the Napa Valley. The first is Robin Williams’ Napa retreat. Robin Williams recently listed his 640-acre Napa Valley ranch for $29.9 million. The property is in the Mayacamas Mountains between Napa and Sonoma. For you interested buyers, here is a link to a Forbes article on the house.

        A second Napa Valley home is also for sale by an unknown seller. The property is to be sold on May 22 by Concierge Auctions. Concierge Auctions is a luxury real estate auction firm serving high-net-worth individuals worldwide. The property is known as Villa de Montaña. The property, originally offered for $22.5 million, will be auctioned without reserve on May 22nd in cooperation with Daniel DerVartanian of Sotheby’s International Realty and Steven Gregory of Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley.

        The 20-acre, 32-room Spanish-Mediterranean estate is spread across a spectacular main house, guest cottage, and separate staff quarters. The property offers panoramic views of St. Helena village and Napa Valley. View property

        Auction Napa Valley June 5-7

        This is another Napa Valley activity for those with deep pockets, and for a great cause. Proceeds from the auction go to a variety of charities in the Napa area. Last year the auction raised $16.9 million.

        To attend this year’s Welcome Party, Barrel Auction, and the Friday Vintner Dinner, the cost is $3000 per ticket. Ticket and event information


          Uber in the Napa Valley: Good for tourists?

          Uber in Napa and Yountville

          Dining at Angele

          Uber in the Napa Valley

          Wine country travelers to the Napa Valley will be happy to learn this news. Uber has invaded the Napa Valley. Taxi cab drivers may not like this, but certainly tourists will find Uber to be an added convenience for hopping around the Napa Valley. If you don’t already know, Uber is a company that sends drivers for hire at your beck and call. All you need is the Uber App on your smartphone to hire a driver.

          Currently, there are three different taxicab companies that service the Napa Valley: Yellow Cab, Black Tie Cab, and Napa Valley Cab. Cabs have, in a sense, a monopoly because there are so many hotels and lodging and so few cabs. Rates can change on the fly. We once took a cab from the Marriott hotel in Napa to Don Giovanni restaurant. On the way back we hired a cab from the same company and the fare was much higher.

          Uber started their service in Napa on April 3rd, so it is just beginning to test the waters in the Napa Valley. Looking at the Uber blog, the new service for now looks like it is just between Napa and Yountville. I spoke with Michael Palmer, the General Manager at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa. He welcomes Uber. “We have a shortage of cabs currently and sometimes it can be an hour wait for a cab. Right now my Uber App tells me a driver is just ten minutes away.” He also expects that once Uber takes hold in the Napa Valley it will improve taxicab service. “A little competition is good for all.”

          The Taxi companies are based in Napa, so their rates are going to be less for travelers staying in the town of Napa. If you are in Yountville or St. Helena, the cost of a cab increases greatly. The concierge at the Hotel Yountville mentioned that a cab right out the door begins at around $20. On my Uber App, I entered a trip from the Hotel Yountville to Mustard’s Grill, just about three miles up the road. The fees would be $7 to $10 for the uberX, $17 to $20 for UberBLACK, and $27 – $32 for the UberSUV. Uber drivers are not allowed to take tips because the tip is figured into the cost of the trip. Black Tie Taxi tells me that they would charge $20 for the same trip, plus tip. If you have a group of six, the SUV Uber would be the way to go with the party members splitting the fare.

          Another convenience factor in Uber’s favor is that your trip is automatically charged to your credit card. To sign up for Uber, one downloads the App to their smartphone and enters a credit card number and other pertinent data. As I mentioned above, the tip is included in the total cost of the ride. If Uber is successful, and they should be in the very touristy Napa Valley, I would expect Uber’s competition, Lyft and Sidecar, to also make their way to the Napa Valley.

          I do think that hotels and B&B’s should promote safe driving as much as possible. The Napa Valley is all about fine food and wine. Drinking and driving is never a good idea, and hotels should encourage their guests to hire a taxi or an Uber driver. The old adage, “Better safe than sorry,” is never more appropriate than for visitors to the Napa Valley.

          The Uber folks are offering up to $15 off for the first two rides. Valid from 4/3 to 4/30/14. Uber coupon


            Napa Valley Tidbits – Ovation TV and The Art Of: Wine Country

            Ovation TV – The Art Of: Wine Country

            Ovation TV is available on most cable companies, i.e. Comcast, Uverse and Direct TV. This Sunday evening Ovation will broadcast “The Art of Wine Country” at 7:30 p.m. ET. I checked out a couple of preview videos and it looks like an exciting show. I watched a clip of Napa Valley’s Gordon Huether and his amazing sculptures at the Artesa Winery in Carneros. In another clip, Chef Cindy Pawlcyn talks about the art of her vegetable gardening and its importance to the success of the food she serves at her restaurants.

            Each weekly show, The Art Of: Introduces viewers to “a new artistic medium explored through profiles of boundary-pushing artists. Focusing on the celebrated as well as the undiscovered, this series explores the creative process behind each featured art form and uncovers how and why these artists do what they do.” If you are a lover of wine country and art, tune in to The Art Of: Wine Country.

            To find the specific channel for viewing The Art Of: click on this link to the Ovation Website to find Ovation in the area where you live. Here is a preview of the show.

            Gordon Hunter and Artesa

            Yountville Hill winery stirs controversy

            There is a proposal on the docket to build a winery atop the northwest area on Yountville Hill. It sounds like a massive undertaking. The plan calls for a 100,000-gallon production facility and 36,000 square feet of caves. Also proposed is a 12,800-square-foot admin and visitor center. This site is just north of the main town of Yountville and just above where Mustards restaurant is located. Prescott Ashe and Eric Sklar, the former owner of Alpha Omega, have filed the application. Wine Travelers to the Napa Valley wine country should be concerned. Yes, it looks like another wonderful winery to visit, but remember there are four wineries in this immediate area and who needs more congestion on highway 29? 

            Luxury Travel Package

            For you wine country travelers in search of more indulgence, The Plumpjack Group and the Carneros Inn have teamed together to offer “Plumpjack’s Ultimate Napa Valley Experience.” The itinerary includes:

            • One-night stay in the Harvest Cottage at The Carneros Inn

            • A tour and tasting for two people at PlumpJack Winery, CADE or Odette

            • A six-course tasting menu for two at FARM from highly acclaimed Chef de Cuisine Andrew Budnyj

            Starting rates for the “PlumpJack Ultimate Napa Valley Experience” begin at $1,285 plus gratuities. For booking or more information, please visit or call 707.299.4850.

            Underground Cellars New Idea

            Underground Cellars has beta tested for 6 months a very different concept for online wine sales. It has officially launched this week, and it’s a novel way for wineries to sell wine they might otherwise release to flash online wine sites or the big discount stores. Nothing could be more galling for a customer to purchase a wine at a winery and find it a week later at a deep discount at Costco or the like.


            This is how this site is different from a flash sale site. For the winery: Underground Cellars negotiates with the winery to sell off inventory along with a small number of their current wines, library wines or even magnums. When the Underground Cellars customer buys say six bottles of this wine, that customer receives upgrades. Example, they may have purchased six bottles of the entry level wine but now they get an upgrade to a higher-priced bottle. That could be a $100 bottle of wine they receive at no extra cost. If you go to this page on Underground Cellars you might get a better visual of the this concept: How it works.

            To entice wine shoppers to sign up for an account, the Underground Cellars has a giveaway for one lucky wine shopper. “Grand Sonoma Wine-cation,” where a lucky winner and their 3 guests will be flown out to wine country for an all-inclusive and unforgettable VIP wine country weekend (value of this is $10,000). Note: One should know that the value of the prize will always turn up as income on a 1099. Wow, what a surprise when you find out you will be paying state and fed tax to treat your friends!

            For more information in the giveaway, go here:


              Hall Wines leaps forward with winery iPad technology

              image Hall winery

              Revel Systems winery iPad technology at Hall Wines

              The next time you stop in at one of Hall Wines tasting rooms, there will be something new to ponder at the counter: iPad tablets used by customers and staff to simplify the purchase and shipping of Hall wines. Hall instituted the Revel Systems iPad point-of-sale solution two weeks ago and all appears to be working nicely. According to Revel System CEO Chris Ciabara, Hall has taken a giant leap forward, integrating all its technology systems into one easy platform that can be used on Apple’s iPad tablet. Will other wineries in the Napa Valley and other wine regions jump on this technology?

              The Revel System provides the Hall winery and staff versatility for making quick sales and enabling customers to order wines on the fly. This could be in the tasting room, on a vineyard tour or at a special tasting event. The Hall staff can check inventory and other data from the field. Image yourself tasting a wine as you walk along the vineyards. You like it, you order it on the iPad, and when you get back to the tasting room your wine package is waiting. The software also has a ship-compliant component to decipher all issues at that end.

              I have seen some limited use of the iPad in a few wineries that I have visited. Andrew Murray, in his Santa Barbara County winery, uses the iPad to take your order and swipe your credit card, but I think that is just about it. Kathleen Inman has something similar in Sonoma County for visitors to read tasting notes and place an order. We shall see how this works out and how many other wineries adopt iPads in the tasting room for all transactions.

              revel ipad

              Revel Systems winery iPad Technology

              BottleRock Napa Valley is a “go” for a second year

              The BottleRock music concert returns to Napa in May with a new producer and a terrific lineup. Tickets are now on sale. Last year’s event was very popular with some 35,000 people attending. Here is your chance to combine wine tasting, food and music. Take a look at what is happening at BottleRock Napa Valley 2014.

              Tickets are on sale now for this event being held May 30 through June 1, 2014. Single day passes are $149 per person, and can be purchased at or or charge by phone at 877.4.FLY.TIX (435.9849). 3-Day ($279), VIP 3-Day ($599) and Platinum Passes are also available. Check the BottleRock Website for complete details of this extravaganza.

              image of the cure

              The Cure performs on Friday, May 30th


                Eco-Friendly Wine Route

                Ten years ago only a handful of wineries in the Napa Valley used any solar power or practiced any sort of eco-friendly farming in their vineyards. Today that has changed dramatically. Many wineries in the Napa Valley can boast that they are eco-friendly in some fashion: certified organic, sustainable, biodynamic, Napa Green or solar powered.

                For those wine country travelers who would like to visit some of these wineries, we have designed an Eco-Friendly Wine Route. We are listing five wineries that have extensive eco-friendly practices, in addition to making some very delicious wines and providing visitors with enjoyable experiences in the tasting room.

                The Eco-Friendly Wine Route

                • Robert Sinskey – Biodynamic
                • Honig Winery – Sustainable
                • Round Pond Estate – Sustainable
                • Frog’s Leap – Organic, sustainable
                • Casa Nuestra- Organic

                This wine route is centered around the Silverado Trail that runs along the eastern side of the Valley. Use the map below as your guide for getting to the wineries that you would like to visit on this trail. Always check the winery’s website for tasting-room hours and for booking tours.

                Robert Sinskey Vineyards

                We begin our wine country getaway at Robert Sinskey Vineyards. The winery is located just north of Oak Knoll Road at 6320 Silverado Trail. It is on the right as you drive north. Robert Sinskey is a certified biodynamic winery and uses solar power. The terrace is a wonderful spot to sip some wine and take a look at the beautiful valley floor. Tasting is $25 per person including the appetizers from the Vineyard Kitchen. Tours are available by appointment.

                Honig Winery

                “Family owned, sustainably farmed, and solar powered” is the slogan at the Honig Winery. This winery officially had its start in 1984 and is one of the first in the Napa Valley to start a program of sustainable farming. It has been a model for other wineries in California. To visit and hear about sustainable farming, you will need to make an appointment. If the weather is nice, you will sit outside and taste some delicious wines. We are particularly fond of both of the Honig Sauvignon Blanc labels, the Napa Valley and the Rutherford. “Sustainable” is a somewhat vague term, but essentially means that whatever farming is done does not deplete the land. Everything in some form finds it way back to the soil. “Sustainable” also means that the vineyards will keep the staff working long term.

                Honig Tasting

                Honig Tasting

                Round Pond Estate

                Round Pond is one of the new kids on the block with a first vintage date of 2002. The MacDonnell family owns the winery, olive oil plant and the vineyards. 95% of the grapes are sold to other wineries with the remainder allocated for the production of Round Pond Wines. “Sustainable” is the operative word at Round Pond, which has one of the most exciting views for a wine tasting. The patio is where you reserve your spot and enjoy a variety of food and wine pairings. The gardens, of course, are organically farmed.
                Check the Website for the various tasting options.

                The Terrace at Round Pond

                The Terrace at Round Pond

                Frog’s Leap

                Frog’s Leap is another of the pioneering eco-friendly wineries of the Napa Valley. The winery has two different tastings for tourists, plus a fantastic hour-and-a-half tour that we suggest you take. It is very informative. The tour is impressive and demonstrates what each and every winery in the Napa Valley should be doing to preserve the environment. The tours are at 10:30 and 2:30, but you must call ahead to book your tour.

                Frog's Leap

                Frog’s Leap

                Casa Nuestra Winery

                For our last winery, we head up north almost to Calistoga to the Casa Nuestra Winery. This is another family-owned winery. This is a bit of a change of pace from the other wineries. Casa Nuestra is very small and on the funky side. It is a very fun tasting room to visit. The winery has been committed to organic farming for almost two decades. The winery also uses extensive solar power. The wines at Casa Nuestra are atypical of Napa Valley wines. Here you will find labels like Verdelho, Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Tinto and Symphony. During the week you can probably just pop in and be able to taste wine. Weekends are busy, so be sure to call ahead to book an appointment.


                  Napa Valley Wine Tasting Fee Index

                  sign for tasting room

                  How much $$ for tasting?

                  You’re heading to the Napa Valley and wondering how much to figure on tasting room fees for your travel budget. You are not alone. Our readers will often email us asking questions related to tasting room fees. What should I expect in tasting room fees on our vacation? Are the fees the same from winery to winery? Are there any tasting rooms in Napa that do not charge a fee? Where can we get a discount or two-for-one tasting coupons? This got me to thinking how much tasting room fees have increased over the years. There was once a time when no winery in the Napa Valley charged customers to taste their wine. I have no idea how much tasting room fees increase each year. I’m sure someone out there has done a reliable study, and that is more likely a survey for industry wine folks. I want something as a gauge for the wine country traveler who visits our Website looking for that information. I decided to devise a quick and easy, but unscientific, Napa Valley Wine Tasting Fee Index, one that I can update a couple of times per year. It will be interesting to do a chart year to year on the increases in these wine-tasting fees. At the very least, the Index will give a ballpark figure when someone asks how much the tasting fees are in the Napa Valley.

                  Napa Valley Wine Tasting Fee Index

                  For the index I decided on a nice, easy, round number of ten wineries. I decided that, since most folks travel Highway 29 when visiting the Napa Valley, to focus on wineries between Napa and Calistoga on this road. I selected wineries on this route that are highly visible and popular. They are all open daily and visitors can pop in any time that the tasting room is open.

                  sequoia grove

                  Sequoia Grove – $15 for wine tasting

                  Just about every winery in the Napa Valley has a range of tasting options. Reserve tasting, library tasting, food and wine pairing, barrel samples, and a tour and tasting. For each of the selected wineries, I am tracking only the tasting fee for a basic, or lowest priced, level of tasting. Currently, these are the established tasting room fees as of February 2014 at these ten wineries for a basic tasting.

                  • Alpha Omega – $25
                  • Beaulieu Vineyards – $15
                  • Beringer Wines – $20
                  • Grgich Hills -$20
                  • Louis Martini -$15
                  • Peju Province -$20
                  • Provenance – $25
                  • Rutherford Estate – $15
                  • Sequoia Grove – $15
                  • Whitehall Lane – $15

                  Doing a calculation, the average Napa Valley tasting fee for a basic tasting is $18.50. Five of the wineries charge $15, three at $20, and two at $25.

                  I always remind readers that there are ways to save on tasting room fees, especially in the Napa Valley. Check with your hotel concierge, who will more than likely have two-for-one tasting coupons. You can always share a tasting with your partner. I find that the host will pour a tad more than if it was just one person tasting. A few wineries will waive the tasting fee if you purchase a certain dollar amount of wine. For budgeting purposes, use the Index to estimate how much to set aside for tasting fees depending on the number in your party and how many wineries you plan to visit.

                  Provenance - $25 for wine tasting

                  Provenance – $25 for wine tasting


                    Do you really need a tasting room appointment?

                    tasting room sign

                    Open daily, no appointment

                    Tasting room appointment

                    In short, the answer is no! We visit the Napa Valley numerous times a year and hardly ever make an appointment. In our travels to the Napa Valley we find three different tasting room scenarios.

                    The first are the wineries with regular visiting hours throughout the week. There are a plethora of Napa Valley wineries open daily, some starting as early as 10 AM. Most are open by 11 AM and stay open until 4 or 5 PM. Just enter the tasting room and belly up to the tasting bar. If you look at our list of suggested Napa Valley wine routes, the majority of those wineries have regular tasting room hours and no reservations are required to do a normal tasting of wines.


                    Tasting room appointment recommended

                    The second situation are wineries that are relatively new to Napa Valley and are subject to newer Napa County regulations for tasting rooms. These require that the tasting rooms entertain visitors by appointment only. You may see a sign outside saying “Open by appointment only,” but in reality anyone can pop in and taste wines. Use your cell phone and call and explain that you are just outside the tasting room, and more than likely you will be invited to come in and do some tasting. Our guess is that these regulations are an attempt by the County to control congestion in the Napa Valley.

                    A third set of wineries, and very much in the minority, truly do require visitors to make a reservation to taste or tour. These wineries tend to be small, boutique, high-end, and not staffed to take in numerous visitors.

                    Appointment required

                    Appointment required

                    When planning a trip to the Napa Valley, it is best to peruse the Website of each winery you want to visit and check on the section for visiting the winery. This is the best way to get the latest information.

                    If you are interested is a special tasting, a group tasting, a tour, or food pairing, more than likely you will need to call the winery and make a reservation. Two helpful winery reservation Websites are the Cellar Pass and Vino Visit. They have each contracted with a set of wineries to do all the booking work for the winery. They both work like Open Table does for restaurants. Both of these services do make a commission on each booking, so only a few wineries are using these services. The rest rely on folks hitting the website, emailing or phoning.

                    If you look at our Winery Finder/Trip Planner you will be able to see which wineries have regular tasting room hours and those that are open by appointment only. Always double check with the wineries, because they often change tasting room hours. Another good thing is to find out the cost of a tasting. If you are on a budget, tasting fees can add up quickly.

                    Your best course of action when visiting the Napa Valley and its many tasting rooms is to spend some serious planning weeks before your scheduled visit.