If you’re looking for the best sparkling wine in Napa, this blog post will help you narrow down where to go for the best bubbly experiences.
It’s no secret I love a trip to wine country. Napa holds a special place in my heart in part because it produces some of the most beautiful and award-winning Cabernet Sauvignons in the world. In terms of preference, I am an equal opportunist, but will usually pick a big-bodied, velvety glass of red wine over a white wine. With one exception- bubbly. I love sparkling wine and do not believe it should be reserved for special occasions. What’s wrong with popping the cork on a random Tuesday? In my opinion, nothing. There’s always a good reason to pop open a bottle of bubbly.
There are quite a few wineries in Napa Valley that produce fabulous sparkling wine, which will be discussed later in the post. I will also share a few of my top tips to help you plan a trip to wine country. But first, let’s talk about why the bubbly in Napa is called sparkling wine and not champagne.
What is the difference between champagne and sparkling wine?
All champagne is sparkling wine however, not all sparkling wine is champagne. Champagne can only be called Champagne if it is made in the Champagne region of France and is protected by a European law that went into effect in 1871. It is required to be produced using the méthode champenoise.
The bubbly that is made in California, is referred to as sparkling wine. Unlike champagne, sparkling wine made in California does not have to adhere to strict rules in the way it was made. It can also be made from any grape the winemaker chooses. Whereas Champagne must be made from Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay, or Pinot Noir grapes.
If you’re planning a trip to Napa, I think the best way to start your wine tasting trip is a tasting at one of the sparkling wine houses. Napa Valley has several wineries that make exceptional bubbly- keep reading to learn about some of my faves.
The Best Sparkling Wineries in Napa Valley
As mentioned earlier in the post, Napa is known for producing some of the world’s most delicious wines. Most notably, Cabernet Sauvignon, but they also produce some of the best sparkling wines in the United States. Below is a list of the best sparkling wineries in Napa Valley.
1. Domaine Carneros
Domaine Carneros was the very first winery I ever visited in Napa Valley, and it left a big impression on me. I recommend all my travel clients kick their Napa Valley vacations off with a tasting here, and the ones who have heeded my advice, all agree- it’s magical!
The winery was founded by the family behind Champagne Taittinger. So therefore, it makes sense, that their wine-making process follows the traditional method of making champagne, with styles ranging from the classic vintage-dated, estate Brut Cuvée to Blanc de Blanc.
Domain Carneros is one of the most well-known sparkling wineries in Napa Valley. The winery’s estate is a massive French chateau, in the heart of Carneros. If you can, make your tasting reservations for outside on the terrace, the panoramic vineyard views are stunning. Your tasting flights could be a sparkling sampler or a mix of still and sparkling wines. Personally, I recommend picking one of the sparkling flights.
There are several different tasting options and experiences to choose from, some include food pairings.
Next on the list, is Schramsberg. It’s located in the northernmost part of the valley, in the small town of Calistoga. It is another fantastic sparkling wine house and would be the perfect place to visit for honeymooners.
Schramsberg estate was founded in 1965 by Jack and Jamie Davies. Their goal was to produce a world-class sparkling wine, which was a lofty goal, but they proved to be successful. Their Blanc de Blanc has been served at official state functions by every U.S. Presidential administration office since President Nixon’s 1972 “Toast to Peace.”
One of the reasons Schramsberg wines are so special is that they focus on century-old traditions, and many of the processes are still carried out by hand. Méthode traditionelle is a labor-intensive process and costly process. All champagne and most high-quality sparkling wines follow this process.
The wine tasting experiences at Schramsberg are just as special as their wines. Your tasting will include a tour of their caves, which were dug out by hand in the 1800s. They keep the cave in its natural state and allow for moss and other things to grow. Making these caves unlike any other wine cave in Napa. The entrance to the cave is lined with sparkling wine bottles preparing to be corked.
The sparkling wines are exquisite. While it’s hard to pick a favorite if I had to, I’d say both the Brut Rosé and any of the Blanc de Blancs.
Another well-known sparkling winery in Napa Valley is Mumm Napa. In the late 1970s, a French winemaker, Guy Devaux, was sent to the United States to find an ideal area to grow traditional Champagne grapes. Originally named Domaine Mumm, they released their first sparkling wine in 1983 and operated as a private winery. In 1990 they opened to the public and changed their name to Mumm Napa.
I’m sure you have seen their wines in your local liquor stores, as they are a high-volume producer, but don’t let that deter you from scheduling a tasting experience at their Napa Valley winery. Their tasting room and terrace offer stunning, panoramic views of the vineyards. I encourage you to reserve a tasting here.
You can choose from several different tasting experiences. If you can, make reservations for the Oak Terrace Sparkling Wine experience. You will get to enjoy seasonal cheeses and be able to taste their limited-production wines including DVX.
I’m sure you’re familiar with Moët & Chandon, one of the world’s largest champagne producers, well Chandon is a part of the Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton luxury (LVMH) group. They began producing sparkling wines in 1973 and have become one of the largest producers of sparkling wines in the United States.
Domaine Chandon is located in Yountville, which is the heart of Napa Valley. It is a fabulous location and easily walkable from downtown Yountville. My recommendation would visit Domaine Chandon in the morning and then have lunch in Yountville afterward.
They offer various tasting experiences that are available Thursday-Sunday, with different types of tasting flights. Another reason to add Chandon to the itinerary is because it’s a great place for groups to visit. Groups of up to 12 people can enjoy tasting experiences. Food pairings can also be added to the tasting.
Even though it is a bit commercialized and touristy, I do recommend adding it to your wine-tasting trip because they offer options to purchase by the glass or bottle.
The Best Tasting Rooms for Sparkling Wine in Napa
It goes without saying, that sipping wine, whether that be sparkling or still, at the winery is a special experience and hard to replicate. But sometimes, it’s nice to taste wine in an environment where you are closer to dining, shopping, and other tasting options. Thankfully, there are plenty of urban wineries, aka tasting rooms, in Napa Valley.
One of the coolest tasting rooms in Downtown Napa is Be Bubbly. They offer a wide variety of champagne and sparkling wines from around the world and are available for purchase by the glass, flight, or bottle. Oh, and it’s absolutely adorable. Totally worthy of several spots on your Instagram feed.
Generally wineries and tasting rooms close between 4 and 6 o’clock. However, Be Bubbly is one of a handful of tasting rooms that stay open later. During the week they’re open until 8 p.m. and on the weekends they’re open until 11 p.m. Check their events calendar too, as they have live entertainment on the weekends.
Another fabulous tasting room is JCB. Especially, if you’re craving an experience that is equal parts luxurious and unconventional. You’ll be sipping your bubbly surrounded by leopard print, chandeliers dripping with rhinestones, and plush velvet.
In addition to the tasting room, there is also a retail store where you can purchase items from JCB’s other collections including jewelry, candles, perfumes, and luxury home and wine accessories. It would be a perfect spot for a bachelorette party.
JCB Collection brings together old and new world-style wines. Each wine is a limited edition and named with a number that signifies the wine style Jean-Charles Boisset is trying to achieve. The numbers are also symbolic of important moments in his life and career.
Tips for a Wine Tasting Trip in Napa Valley
I’ve been to Napa Valley several times. My first trip was quite a learning experience! Here are some of the tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years.
1. Make Reservations
My number one piece of advice for any trip to Napa Valley is to make your reservations early. Wineries no longer accept walk-ins. The sooner you make your tasting reservations the better.
2. Stay Hydrated
My second tip is to drink lots of water. Sipping champagne (or wine) all day is almost guaranteed to lead to an early evening hangover. To avoid this, make sure you drink plenty of water. I always stop and get a case or two of water to keep in the car. That way I can drink a bottle between tastings.
3. Hire a Driver
Another super important tip is to make sure that you have a designated driver. If you do not have someone in your party who will be the designated driver, please consider hiring a driver. You can use a transportation company or hire someone to drive your car (even if it’s a rental).
Uber and Lyft are not very reliable during the day because of high demand and the cell phone service is a little spotty.
4. Don’t Swirl
Swirling wine helps enhance the aromas and flavors in still wines, but the bubbles in sparkling wine and champagne do that for you. Therefore, when wine tasting, you do not need to swirl the sparkling varietals. Swirling your bubbly you could cause it to go prematurely flat, and no one wants that.
5. Take a Wine Suitcase
Lastly, be prepared to take wine home with you. The first time I went to Napa, I made a mistake thinking that I could buy a wine suitcase anywhere in wine country. Surprisingly wine suitcases were not readily available at that time. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t figure this out until the very last day of the trip. Which led to an extremely stressful end to the trip.
Now, I know to come prepared. I bring a wine suitcase with me. It can fit up to 12 bottles and can be checked at the airport just like any other piece of luggage. Wineries will also ship to most states. Therefore, if you plan on buying multiple bottles from one winery, it’s best to have them shipped.
Where to Find the Best Sparkling Wine in Napa
I hope this helps you find the best places to taste sparkling wine on your next trip to Napa Valley. If you’re interested in booking a trip for Napa and would like help, let’s set up a time to chat! Napa is one of my favorite places for a long weekend, and I’d love to help make it yours too!
8 responses to “Where to Find the Best Sparkling Wine in Napa”
Mmm, I love wine too, especially sparkling wine. I hope I`ll visit Napa Valley one day too. And I like wine suitcases, I never heard about them before.
Such great tips! That suitcase looks like a game-changer.
I never new the distinction between sparkling wine and champaign. Thanks for the information and the tips for wine tasting.
This is interesting, I don’t think will be going to Napa but will definitely save this. Thank you for sharing!