The Silverado Trail is a 26-mile long driving route in California, stretching from Napa to Calistoga in the Napa Valley. Just say the words Napa Valley and one thinks of glorious vineyards, sweeping views, and breezes off the Pacific Ocean. All these are to be found on the Silverado Trail, and so much more. This smaller scenic route parallels CA 29, and allows for a slower paced exploration of the region’s wonders. This road was established in the 1850s and became the main road by the 1870s.
Begin at Napa where there are five wine tasting rooms to choose from. Napa was founded in 1847 and incorporated in 1872; it serves as the Napa County seat. About forty of the Valley’s two hundred wineries are along the Silverado Trail, so there are plenty of them to choose from. There are so many wonderful wineries to explore; we are concentrating on those that, according to the most recent information, do not require advance appointments. So you can drive and visit as you choose. Because wine tasting is the central theme on the Silverado Trail, we highly recommend that you have a designated driver, to safely and fully enjoy your travels.
Start up the Silverado trail and you will soon sense how pleasant this part of the Valley is. You may see a sign announcing fresh peaches at “Hurley Farms”; their peach preserves are fabulous. And you can choose from a variety of summer and winter crops, all available at their farm stand. The Soda Canyon Store is a nice spot to grab a bite to eat; proprietors Bonnie and Gina offer gourmet cheeses, and a deli menu, or they will make up box lunches for you. Monticello Vineyards, founded by the Corley family in 1969, offers walk in tasting.
In the Yountville area, also known as the “Stags Leap District”, Signorello offers food and wine parings with beautiful views, which are many visitors’ favorite of the Silverado trail. Chimney Rock is noted for its white stucco romantic buildings amid the vineyards; while reservations are encouraged, groups of six or fewer may visit at their leisure. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ shop is open for tasting. Other wineries you will come to in this section of the Trail include Pine Ridge and Silverado. In Oakville, visit the Baldacci Family Vineyards for an Estate Tasting and Cave Tour.
Rutherford is known for the Miner Family Vineyards, where wines for tasting are presented in varietal specific Riedel glassware. Mumm, established in California in the late 1970s, follows traditional wine making techniques of its French heritage. Corn Creek Winery, where the Silverado Trail meets Conn Creek Road, features a Mediterranean-style building, an English garden, and a dedicated barrel room. Rutherford Ranch Winery offers boxed lunch option to go with its tasting. At Rutherford Hill, you can tour the nearly mile-long caves and end the afternoon with a picnic in their oak grove. Family owned Sullivan Vineyards dates to the 1950s, when it was founded by graphic artist Jim Sullivan. Raymond Vineyards offers the acre “Theater of Nature”, the largest educational exhibit on Biodynamic farming in the Napa Valley.
At St Helena, you may choose to visit Rombauer Vineyards high on a tree-covered knoll just off Silverado Trail, with its porch with stunning views of the Mayacamas Mountains, garden with over 100 varieties of plants and flowers, and whimsical works of art. The Frank Family Vineyards began as the Larkmead Winery in 1884, the building was refinished with native sandstone from the nearby hills in 1906 and the winery provides beautiful tasting rooms for its guests in the restored 70 year old Craftsman House. The massive stone house is on the National Register of Historical Places. Sterling Vineyards’ aerial tram is the only one of its kind in Napa Valley, offering stunning views as visitors ride up to the winery, elevated walkways that allow guests to follow the winemaking process from grape to glass, and a grape-stomping experience. All grape-stomp participants will also receive a t-shirt complete with their own purple footprints to commemorate the occasion. There are some charming places to stay along the Silverado Trail, including Calistoga Ranch, Chateau de Vie B&B, and the Golden Haven Hot Springs Spa and Resort.
Your drive along the Silverado Trail concludes at Calistoga, where you can visit Chateau Montelena. Originally called A. L. Tubbs winery after its founder Alfred Tubbs, it was constructed in 1888 and intended as a barrel-aging facility. The Gothic style Chateau was unique for its era. In nineteenth-century Napa Valley, the majority of wineries were constructed of wood. Instead, the Chateau is made of stone with walls three to twelve feet thick, which provides natural insulation against outside heat or cold. The setting is one of the most peaceful in the Napa Valley – a stone castle carved into a hillside overlooking a Chinese garden, lake and vineyards reaching out to the base of Mt. St. Helena. It is the perfect place to complete your drive along the Silverado Trail.