Above-ground tasting rooms aren’t the only formal places to sip wine in Napa Valley. Many wineries also offer caves for tasting experiences, too. These caves serve dual purposes—they are cool and humid locations to store wine while it ages to perfection in barrels, and they are both beautiful and unique spots to escape Wine Country heat. Most caves are kept around 55 degrees, which is the perfect temperature for wine storage. Visitors will find the cave experience markedly different from tastings above ground – the underground experiences often have a speakeasy vibe and can range from luxurious to a little spooky (in a good way, of course).
Napa Valley has over 65 wineries that have caves, but here are some of the Napa Valley cave tasting experiences that have caught our eye; reservations are required unless otherwise specified.
The first organically farmed LEED Gold Certified estate winery in Napa Valley features 15,000 square feet of caves that include event space. All visitors of the winery are shown through the caves as part of the standard tasting and tour, while larger groups can arrange special events, lunch, and dinner there. The design of CADE Estate’s caves is in the shape of the PlumpJack shield, and at the center, they have a large steel dining room table that was built from the hull of a World War 2 submarine while the table legs were salvaged from a vacant building on Mare Island.
Located in the northeast corner of Napa Valley, Pope Valley Winery’s cave dates to the late 1800s and took eight years to dig by hand. The cave still features the original hand-hewn redwood beams and sits at the bottom of the three-story gravitational flow winery established in 1897. All tours walk through a portion of the cave (which is also their barrel room), and upon entering, visitors will notice the winery’s original 1897 sign.
This circa-2011 Calistoga winery boasts more than 11,000 square feet of caves, and the Cave Tour & Tasting winds guests through some of the underground area before a seated tasting in a Howard Backen-designed tasting salon. All wines are paired with small food bites.
All tastings at this Calistoga winery include a tour through the extensive hillside caves before seated tastings outside or upstairs. Cellar Club members have the additional option of tasting underground; this experience includes a short tour of the cave and five wines paired with small bites.
The dark, dank caves at Schramsberg date back nearly 150 years. Chinese laborers chiseled them by hand, and if you look closely, you can still see pick marks in the walls of volcanic rock. Known for their sparkling wines, Schramsberg offers multiple cave tasting experiences depending on interest, such as sparkling wine tasting only or a sparkling and red wine tasting.
This St. Helena winery was built as a gravity flow operation, which means the 17,000 square feet of caves play an integral part of the winemaking process. Quintessa’s private winery experience winds through at least part of the underground operation before leading guests to private tasting areas to sip and savor.
If you’re a Gold Card member at V. Sattui, this one’s for you: V. Sattui offers an exclusive wine tasting experience in their cellar cave, complete with cheese and a charcuterie board. Guests will find themselves nestled amongst the winery’s older wines, including their Reserve wines.
Cave tastings at this Venetian-inspired St. Helena winery feature red wine varietals thieved from barrels. Guests taste a side-by-side comparison of a single-vineyard Cabernet aged in French Oak alongside the same wine aged in American Oak. Visitors also sample bottled wine served with house-made pizza.
Brasswood’s caves cover 17,000 square feet, and guests who book their Cave Tasting experience will get the full immersive experience. The tasting includes a tour of the caves, including the largest cave tunnel in Napa Valley (in width and height), and a flight of Brasswood Cabernets with artisanal cheeses.
The hour-long tour of the mile-long cave system at Rutherford Hill passes some of the 7,000 French Oak barrels in storage on its way to an area where guests can sit and sample wines from the Rutherford Hill and Terlato Family Vineyards portfolios. The caves are located behind the winery and carved deep under the hillside cliffs and are the largest of their kind in Napa Valley.
HALL’s Rutherford property (they have another property in St. Helena) has a 14,000 square-foot cave system finished with Austrian brick and limestone dating back to the Hapsburg Empire. Seated tastings take place under Donald Lipski’s dazzling “Chilean Red” chandelier, designed to look like the underground root system of a vine. This is truly one of those “only in Napa Valley” experiences.
This winery built the first new caves after Prohibition (the first to be built in the US in the 20th century), and today it boasts one of the most extensive cave systems in the county that span 40,000 square feet. To access the underground labyrinth, you must descend a narrow wooden staircase in the circa-1885 winery building that has been renovated and repurposed as a tasting center. Once underground, guests will discover hundreds of French oak wine barrels holding Cabernet and Chardonnay vintages, an inviting cave system, and a “main area” lit by a three-tiered chandelier.
Tours of this historic Oakville winery, found in a canyon above the Silverado Trail, include a stroll through some of the 15,000-square-foot cave system, parts of which have been used for storage for nearly a century. While tastings are held in the outdoor garden or inside the winery, wine club dinners often are underground.
Several private tasting experiences at B Cellars unfold in special tasting rooms in the winery’s 15,000 square-foot cave, which is tunneled under a hill—salons are separated by glass walls. The cave serves not only as a place for special tastings, but also acts as barrel storage for the winery. While underground in one of the elegantly designed rooms, visitors can sample wines from various vintages. Each tasting is paired with local cheese, charcuterie, and accompaniments from the B Cellars kitchen.
The Cellar 47 (47 is the number of acres on the property) tasting experience at this Stags Leap Appellation winery is held entirely underground – in a salon that has been set aside as part of their European-inspired cave system. Guests on this tour enjoy a selection of Estate Cabernet sauvignons, including the flagship wine, FORTIS. Wine lovers can also opt for a vineyard and caves experience to get the full winery experience.
A Foucault pendulum – one of only about 50 in the world – swings in the underground Round Room at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, which can be found in the center of the caves. Tour guides tell groups it “marks the passing of time and the aging of wine.” The cave entrance takes visitors to the Great Room, with copper sconces and quartzite floors, and right outside the doors sits the ARCADE, a glorious arched patio designed for tasting with sweeping views of the Stags Leap Palisades. The caves cover 34,000 square feet of tunnels and house 6,000 barrels.
As part of a recent (and massive) renovation, the Baldacci team decided to construct a 7,000 square-foot wine cave under the winery’s knoll by drilling through solid rock. Later, another 11,000 square feet was completed in 2020. Guests can partake in multiple wine tasting experiences within the cave, including an all Cabernet tasting experience, and offers opportunities for groups as large as 16 people to have a private cave tasting experience.
You won’t see a big winery building at this Coombsville brand; the entire winemaking operation here happens underground. There are 17,000 square feet of caves in all, and private tours include a walkthrough of at least some of the operation – there’s even an underground wine library. The Bordeaux varietals are outstanding.
Jarvis Estate is unique because the entire winery exists underground in a cave – the first in the nation to be built in this way. The 45,000-square-foot cave system includes an underground waterfall, which serves as a cooling system to maintain the cave’s temperature and humidity. There is also a “gallery” of a dozen oak fermentation tanks, built by French coopers. All tours end with a seated tasting experience where guests sample six wines.
Some other wineries that have caves include: Amulet Estate, Castello di Amorosa, Cliff Lede Vineyards, Clos Pegase Winery, Covert Estate, Cuvaison Estate Wines, Dutch Henry Winery, Fantesca Estate & Winery, Forthright Winery, Inglenook, Maxville Winery, Miner Family Winery, Teachworth Winery, Tres Sabores, and Viader Vineyards & Winery