Tasting fine wine in a Napa Valley cellar is an experience of a lifetime. All year round, St Helena wineries open their doors to wine enthusiasts who want to experience what it’s like to taste wine in the place it was made. Your experience of the wine you encounter will be deepened by knowledgeable staff, and you might find inspiration for your personal cellar.
In order to make your visit one to remember, there are a few things to know. Use this guide to tasting at St Helena wineries for a seamless experience.
Respect the reservation system
Especially during the busy season of August to October, the wine cellars in Napa Valley are bustling with wine enthusiasts. The key to enjoying your tasting is making a reservation in advance and arriving on time with the right amount of people.
Making a reservation not only ensures that you have a dedicated place to enjoy your wine but also allows staff to focus on personalizing your experience.
Be sure to wear something comfortable and tasteful to our cellars. You may want light coverage, as cellars are kept cool to preserve the wine.
All seasoned wine lovers know this crucial etiquette: avoid strong fragrances. You’re here to sensitize your nose to the subtleties of each wine, and strong fragrances can get in the way of that.
When tasting wine, atmosphere is everything. You can help support a pleasant atmosphere by being respectful to staff and other visitors.
Remember to stay aware of how much you’re sipping, and at what rate. Sips add up, and sometimes we get carried away by how much fun we’re having. You can pace yourself without skipping any wine tastings by using a spittoon.
When you’re in a wine cellar, you’re among people who love to talk about wine—be sure to ask questions! Winery staff are ready to share their knowledge about winemaking and local history.
If you hear a term that you don’t recognize, be sure to ask about it. Engaging with the staff enhances your tasting experience by deepening your knowledge, and teaching you things to share with friends when you return home.
Tasting fees at St Helena wineries
Every winery has its own policy regarding wine purchases and tasting fees. Be sure to inquire about what those are so that once the wine starts flowing, you can relax and enjoy.
Many wineries charge a flat fee for their tasting. This covers the wine and the service of walking you through each wine and answering any questions you have. Many wineries will waive one or more of your tasting fees with a certain purchase amount.
In this way, tasting in a cellar is the perfect stepping stone to building your own personal cellar. Let yourself be inspired!