Free wine tastings in Napa Valley

Please note that this posting is from 2003. Almost all wineries in Napa now charge for tastings thus the information here is likely outdated; please verify before visting.

By Mark Ashley, Senior Free Wine Correspondent
See his travel blog, Upgrade: travel better

Napa Valley isn’t Sonoma.

This doesn’t just apply to the wines, but to their business practices. While Sonoma is the land of free wine, and it would take a week to cover all the great wineries that serve it up without asking for a penny, Napa is mostly business. Most of the wineries in Sonoma County still pour their wines for free (though this is starting to change). The norm in Napa is to pay for the privilege.

The majority of Napa wineries will charge tasting fees that range from $3 to $12 for the standard tastings. Reserve or library edition wines will cost you more.

But have no fear! I’ve assembled a list of 25 wineries that will pour their wine for free. Things change, of course, so please bear in mind that I’m writing this in July 2003. If you have additional wineries in Napa to add, or if some of my information needs updating, post a comment below.

Some general advice: If you can, go on weekdays. The folks doing the pouring seem to be more generous when there aren’t as many tourists around.

Also, even though free is free, and free wine is fantastic, you should probably indulge in a few select wineries that charge a tasting fee, especially if you’re itching to try their wine.

Plus, some wineries offer other perks, such as the Hess Collection Winery, which stands at the low end of the price range ($3) for a tasting of 3 current releases, but offers an extensive art gallery with free admission. (It may not be wine, but it’s free!).

Finally, check the NapaValley.com website for promotional goodies and coupons before you go. You can click HERE for the full list of comp stuff. Some wineries, such as Luna,
offer a coupon for free reserve tastings (with the purchase of a regular tasting).

Happy Tastings!
—————

Acacia Winery (Carneros
region)
2750 Las Amigas Rd.
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 226-9991
info@acaciawinery.com

Monday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Sunday, 12 noon-4:30 p.m.
Complimentary tour and tasting, but by APPOINTMENT ONLY. Reserve tastings will cost you $10. Specializing in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Bayview
Cellars

Tastings are held at Napa
Valley Traditions
, a downtown Napa food/wine/gift shop.
1202 Main St.

Napa, CA 94558
(707) 226-2044 or 1-800-627-2044
car@napanet.net

Monday-Friday: 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Saturday 9:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Sunday 10:30
a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Complimentary tastings at a store owned by the same folks that
own Bayview. Winery is offsite; no tours. Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurtztraminer,
Cabernet Sauvignon.

Bouchaine Vineyards (Carneros)

1075 Buchli Station Rd.
Napa, CA 94559
(707)
252-9065 or (800) 654-9463
info@bouchaine.com

Daily, 10:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Tours by appointment only, tastings don’t require an appointment. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Cain Vineyard and Winery
3800 Langtry Rd.
St. Helena, CA 94574
(707)
963-1616
winery@cainfive.com

Tastings are offered twice a week by APPOINTMENT ONLY. Otherwise closed to the public. Call or e-mail them to find out the dates and times, and to make your reservation. Cain serves Bordeaux style blends – 3 reds, 1 white – with names like Cain Five (mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot), Cain Cuvee (mostly Cabernet
Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc), and Cain Musqué (Musqué clone Sauvignon Blanc).


Caymus Vineyards


8700 Conn Creek Rd.
Rutherford, CA 94573
(707) 967-3010
Tastings are free, but by APPOINTMENT ONLY. Be sure to call at least a week or two in advance.
Cabernet Sauvignon.



Chateau Potelle Winery

3875 Mt. Veeder Road
Napa, California 94558

(707) 255-9440
info@chateaupotelle.com

Daily, 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Hours are shorter in the winter months; pouring
both Napa and Paso Robles vintages. Try the Zinfandel VGS.

Folie a Deux Winery
3070 North St. Helena Highway
St. Helena, CA 94574
(800) 473-4454 or 707-963-1160
tasting@folieadeux.com

Daily, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.; Free tastings ONLY from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 noon

Here’s the place to start your pre-lunch tastings… If you arrive before noon,
the tastings are free. After 12:00, you’ll have to shell out $5. The frugal taster
arrives early! Tastings don’t require an appointment, but you’ll need one for
cellar tours and the possibility of barrel tastings. Notable offerings include
their "Menage a Trois" blends and zinfandels.

Frank Family
Vineyard
1091 Larkmead Lane
Calistoga CA 94515
(800) 574-9463 or
(707) 942-0859
Tastings don’t require an appointment but if you want a tour,
you’ll need to call ahead. Tasting room Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.- 5 p.m., Tours Mon.-Fri.
10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sparkling wines, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel.


Frog’s Leap
Winery

8815 Conn Creek Rd.
Rutherford, CA 94573
(800) 959-4704
or (707) 963-4704
ribbit@frogsleap.com

Monday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Tastings available ONLY at the conclusion
of a tour, and tours are by APPOINTMENT ONLY. Call or e-mail to make your appointment.
Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc, and "Leapfrogmilch"…
a white blend. I hope the wine is better than the pun.

Graeser
Winery

255 Petrified Forest Rd.
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-4437

richard@graeserwinery.com
Daily, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Bordeaux style wines from the Diamond Mountain District. Tours possible; call ahead if you have a group. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, red table wine.

Heitz Cellars
436 St. Helena Highway South
St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 963-3542
Daily, 11:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
This is one of the wineries where I would gladly pay money to taste their offerings. But it’s free! The Heitz Cabernet Sauvignons are legendary, though you probably won’t get to sample their Martha’s Vineyard Cab. The tasting room is separate from the winery itself. In addition to Cabernet, they offer Chardonnay, Grignolino, Zinfandel, and a port.

Koves-Newlan Winery
5225 Solano Avenue, Napa, California 94558. (707) 257-2399. hospitality@kovesnewlanwine.com

Daily, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
While Koves-Newlan charges for their tastings ($5 for 3 tastings or $7 for 4 tastings with a commemorative glass to keep) you can get FREE tastings of ALL their wines by clicking HERE,
printing out the page, and bringing it with you to the winery. (It says you can just say you saw it on the internet, but better to have a hard copy just in case&#133) Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet.

Louis M. Martini Winery
254 S. St. Helena Hwy.
St. Helena, CA 94574

(800) 321-9463 or (707) 963-2736
info@louismartini.com

Daily, 10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Free tastings of current releases, $5 each for reserve tastings. Tours are free, no appointment required. Especially the Italian varietals such as Barbera and Sangiovese, but plenty of wines to choose from.


Mayacamas Vineyards

1155 Lokoya Road
Napa CA 94558
(707) 224-4030
mayacama@napanet.net

Tastings and tours are available free Monday through Friday by APPOINTMENT ONLY.
Small production (total of about 5000 cases) of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, some Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

Nichelini
Winery

2950 Sage Canyon Rd.
St Helena, CA 94574
707-963-0717

nichwine@nicheliniwinery.com

Saturday-Sunday 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m., Monday-Friday by appointment
Call or
write if you want a free tasting and tour during the week, or if you have more than 10 people coming on a weekend. You can even play bocce after you picnic. Cabernet, Zinfandel, Riesling.

Raymond
Vineyard

849 Zinfandel Ln.
St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 963-3141

director@raymondwine.com
Daily,
10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Current releases are free, library/reserve selections
"for a modest fee." (Tasting fee for groups over 25.) BUT: If you click
HERE, print
out the page and bring it to the winery, you’ll get a FREE library selection!
Tours offered by appointment in the mornings only. Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel,
Merlot, Chardonnay.

Robert Keenan Winery
3660 Spring Mountain Rd.

St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 963-9177
rkw@robertkeenanwinery.com

Free tour and tasting by APPOINTMENT ONLY, call ahead. Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon,
Merlot.



Rombauer Vineyards

3522 Silverado Trail
St. Helena, CA 94574
(800)
622-2206 or (707) 963-5170
Free tour and tasting by APPOINTMENT ONLY, call
ahead. Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot.

Round Hill Vineyards
1680 Silverado Trail
Rutherford, CA 94574
(707)
968-3200
Free tasting by APPOINTMENT ONLY, no tours. Producers of the Round Hill, Rutherford Ranch, and Van Asperen wines. Chadonnay, Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon.

Sutter Home Winery
277 St. Helena Hwy (Hwy. 29) South, St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 963-3104
info@sutterhome.com

Daily, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Complimentary tastings of Sutter Home and M. Trinchero
wines. Be prepared for a corporate experience from the folks who invented white zinfandel…

V. Sattui Winery
1111 White Lane St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 963-7774

info@vsattui.com
Daily, 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. (5:00 p.m in winter)
Free tasting of 8 different V. Sattui wines, plus a cheese/deli plate to nibble on. Tours are self-guided. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot…

Vigil Vineyards
3340 Hwy. 128
Calistoga, CA 94515
(800) 948-4445 or (707) 942-2900
vigilwine@aol.com

Daily, 10:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Definitely call ahead to make sure they’re open, but reservations shouldn’t be necessary. Some of Vigil’s production is organic. Carignane, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon.

Vincent Arroyo Winery
2361 Greenwood Avenue
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707)
942-6995
info@vincentarroyowinery.com

Tasting and tours by APPOINTMENT ONLY. Proprietary blends (such as the Melange, based primarily on Gamay) or Joy’s Choice (Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec), plus Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Sirah.

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18 Responses to “Free wine tastings in Napa Valley”


  1. I just transferred this page over with my new URL. The page was written in 2003 so please contact the winery first to make sure that they are still doing the free tastings as policies may have changed.

    There is also the ability to post a comment on this list now so if you see something out of date, just post here and I will edit the page as necessary. Thanks for your feedback — and happy travels!


  2. [...] do have a few tips for the frugal epicurean (included this now dated list of free wine tastings in the valley), but not many. Some things that leap to [...]


  3. fyi: v. sattui no longer offers free tasting


  4. 9/10: V. Sattui still has free tasting…they will mention charging but just tell the server that you can’t find your coupon….we and several others around us said and received wonderful treatment….


  5. Heitz Cellars is clearly a place to go if you plan to buy their wine. Going there with the intention to sample free wine is not a good idea. Its a small and almost private setting, which makes you feel kinda obliged to buy the wine, after you taste it.


  6. V. Sattui – $5 for tasting of 6 wines (didn’t know about a coupon); Louis M. Martini – $10 for tasting of 3 wines; Folie a Deux – $10 for tasting of 4 wines; Raymond $10 for tasting of 4 wines. After having to pay at every winery we stopped at, I finally asked a server (at Martini) why such a change in the five years since this list was first published. She explained that the tourists that were coming up and just getting drunk for free had become such a nuisance that almost all of the wineries now charged to keep that element away. The drunks weren’t there to buy anyway, so it was self-preservation to deter them from even showing up. The wineries figure that whatever they lost in sales they are making up for in tasting fees and having a better atmosphere for the serious consumers to find something they’ll purchase. I still had a great day (6 wineries in 6 hours), but be prepared to spend some cash, TNSTAAFL.


  7. I am travelling to Sonoma valley in the fall and want to try both free and pay for wine tastings. My husband and I are travelling with another couple who are not into wine which is why I wanted to hit some free places I love wine and am looking forward to trying some california wines I am from Canada and the selection is limited but they will order anyting we want I just need to find out what I want. Are there any free wineries left or should I let the other couple know we will be paying which is okay too. Thanks for any advice you can offer.


  8. Thanks for the list! I actually don’t mind paying to taste though. If I don’t find something I love, I don’t feel pressured to buy a bottle just because I’ve tasted. My favorite set up is a paid tasting, but the ones where they apply the fee to your first purchase.
    ~Amanda B.


  9. We just returned from a trip to Napa. Most wineries do charge for tasting, but there are some coupons available. We stayed at a fantastic B&B, McClelland-Priest, and the owner- Celeste Carducci, has arrangements for free tastings with many great wineries. We felt like it added an incredible value to our stay. GREAT trip!!!


  10. WOW. We just got back from our first day of “real” Napa. Some was quite disappointing. HERE are the really cool things though:
    –Sutter Home is STILL FREE!!! I like their style of wine, and they were fabulous. Ended up with Muscat and Port to take home.
    –V Sattui was also great. Only $5 to taste wines, but I think we did more than we were supposed to and it didn’t matter too much. The Madeira was fantastic and we loved their Gamay Rouge which won a number of awards.
    –Didn’t like Louis M Martini – for our $45 in tasting 6 wines (2 tastings), they have very dry selections if you like that flavor. Tannins too.
    –Charges for Frank Family & Graeser, so we did not go.
    –Still looking to try a few more tomorrow.
    Thanks for all the info!!! It gave us a starting point anyway :)


  11. Bursa otelThanks fot post. McClelland-Priest, and the owner- Celeste Carducci, has arrangements for free tastings with many great wineries


  12. McClelland-Priest, and the owner- Celeste Carducci, has arrangements for free tastings with many great wineries


  13. Heitz Cellars is clearly a place to go if you plan to buy their wine. Going there with the intention to sample free wine…:)


  14. Like everyone has said most of the wineries are charging now, but if you go to the chamber of commerce and ask for some suggestions. They usually have free tasting coupons. I love the Napa Valley!


  15. fyi: v. sattui no longer offers free tasting


  16. Like everyone has said most of the wineries are charging now,


  17. Like everyone has said most of the wineries are charging now, but if you go to the chamber of commerce and ask for some suggestions.
    –Didn’t like Louis M Martini – for our $45 in tasting 6 wines (2 tastings), they have very dry selections if you like that flavor. Tannins too.
    –Charges for Frank Family & Graeser, so we did not go.
    –Still looking to try a few more tomorrow.
    Thanks for all the info!!! It gave us a starting point anyway


  18. sattui no longer offers free tasting


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