3 St. Helena Wineries with a Personal Touch

Wine and dine in the jewel of the Napa Valley.

You’ll get a personalized experience at each of the tasting rooms in this easy-to-follow St. Helena wine tasting day trip that begins downtown and ends just south of it. Often called the jewel of the Napa Valley, St. Helena has excellent restaurants, so you can get your three squares within city limits, too.

Pre-trip To-do List

1) The day’s three winery stops—Chateau Potelle, Ehlers Estate, and Tres Sabores—all require reservations. In summer it’s wise to make them at least a few days ahead.

2) For lunch and dinner, with the exception of the Clif Family Bruschetteria food truck it’s wise to make a reservation, though with lunch not on the schedule until 1:30, you’d probably get away without doing so.

Getting Going

9 am

Model Bakery

Have a light breakfast at your lodging or grab a coffee and croissant or English muffin Oprah loves them) at the beloved Model Bakery in downtown St. Helena. If you’re staying in the southern Napa Valley, you can visit the bakery’s Oxbow Public Market location or the Mini Model in Yountville before venturing north.

Tip: You’ll be having small gourmet bites at your first winery stop, so don’t fill yourself up.

10 am

VGS Chateau Potelle

Michelin-starred bites elevate outstanding wines.

Expect elegance, whimsy, and gourmet small bites at Chateau Potelle.

VGS Chateau Potelle‘s tasting room in a whimsically decorated bungalow benefits from its French-born owner’s impeccable taste. The carefully chosen small bites by the Michelin-starred La Toque restaurant elevate vintner Jean-Noel Fourmeaux’s outstanding wines.

Why go: whimsical sensibility; Cabernets from mountain fruit; small bites elevate wines and vice versa

12 noon

Ehlers Estate

Lush yet subtly powerful wines served in a historic stone barn

The stone barn at Ehlers Estate dates to 1886.

The lush yet subtly powerful wines at Ehlers Estate are served in or just outside a sturdy 1886 stone barn whose contemporary-rustic decor hints at the modern sensibility informing the winemaking here. The focus at this winery with a captivating history is on Bordeaux varietals grown on 42 acres of organically and biodynamically farmed vineyards. The stars include the J. Leducq Cabernet Sauvignon, made entirely of the varietal, along with Cabernet blends and Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc. On the lighter side are a Sauvignon Blanc and a rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Directions: From Chateau Potelle, head north up Highway 29 (Main Street) past downtown to Ehlers Lane. Though the distance is only 3.5 miles, allow 15 or 20 minutes in case traffic is congested. If you’re running ahead of schedule, park near Main Street’s 1200 and 1300 blocks and explore the shops a bit.

Why go: organic and biodynamic farming practices; 19th-century stone building; captivating history; winery profits benefit heart research

1:30 pm


Backtrack on Highway 29 to downtown St. Helena for lunch at Cook St. Helena (Italian) or continue past downtown (almost to Chateau Potelle) for a farm-to-table lunch at Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch. For something quicker and more casual, head across the street from Farmstead to the Clif Family Bruschetteria truck. 

3 pm

Tres Sabores Winery

Look and feel of a working farm

Get a feel for life on a working farm at Tres Sabores.

Glamour is in short supply at the last stop, but that only adds to its charm. Earthy Tres Sabores Winery has the look and feel of exactly what it is—a working farm. On the tour and at the seated tasting that concludes it you’ll sample some of owner-winemaker Julie Johnson’s single-vineyard wines and get a sense of her passion for organic farming and her benchland terrain.

Directions: Tres Sabores is about 4 miles south of Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch. Head south 2¼ miles on Highway 29, turn right (west) at Whitehall Lane, bearing left at the sign for South Whitehall Lane.

Why go: passionate owner-winemaker; chance to see organic farming up close; single-vineyard reds

Browse the Shops 

5 pm

Downtown St. Helena Shopping

If you don’t head back to your lodging to rest before dinner, slip back downtown and browse the shops, galleries, and boutiques in the 1200 and 1300 blocks of Main Street. (The Model Bakery is in the 1300 block.)

Goose & Gander bartender Oswaldo mixes up an Angry Moscow Mule.

Cocktails and Dinner

6:30 pm

There’s a speakeasy feel to the basement bar at Goose & Gander, which occupies a Prohibition-era bungalow a block off Main Street. The mixologists here turn out the classics plus more than a dozen specialty cocktails (the Angry Moscow Mule, with ginger, lime, bitters, and ginger beer) is a regulars’ favorite. If the weather’s nice, have your cocktail in the garden patio, but still check out the bar.

Kusshi oysters with nitro-whipped horseradish, braised beef short rib with shaved daikon at Press restaurant.

7:30 pm

For dinner you can stay at Goose & Gander (salads, burgers, steaks, and chops), drop by Cook St. Helena or Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch (whichever you didn’t lunch at), or dine at Press (Modern American with French flourishes plus steaks). Market (seasonal American cuisine) is the locals’ standby for a well-made meal; those with kids in tow often head to Tra Vigne Pizzeria.

Additional Wine Tasting Options

St. Helena contains dozens more wineries should any of the three on this itinerary be full up on the day you want to visit. Corison Winery, not far from Chateau Potelle and Tres Sabores, is a fine choice among the smaller wineries. Charles Krug, HALL St. Helena, and Joseph Phelps Vineyards are good bets among the larger ones. To check out wines from the Napa Valley and beyond, drop by The Saint wine lounge on Main Street. It’s open well into the evening.

More About the Napa Valley

3 Historic Napa Valley Wineries Day Trip
10 Foolproof Napa Valley Cabernet Tasting Experiences
48 Perfect Hours in Calistoga
St. Helena Lodgings Cheat Sheet

This story first appeared online in 2017; it was fact-checked and updated in 2021. 

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