Sip Bordeaux-style wines in splashy historic setting.
“The Eventual Choice of the American Public” reads the copy in a framed 1930s print ad for Martini Wines. The wording seems awkward until you realize it refers to the nearly decade and a half, then finally ending, that the U.S. banned alcohol sales. Louis M. Martini, who’d started making wine before Prohibition, set about building a winery amid 29 acres he’d purchased about a mile and a quarter south of downtown St. Helena. The land cost Martini a mere $3,000 – these days an acre goes for six figures.
Soak Up the History
Soaking up the history of Louis M. Martini Winery, whose Italian-born namesake emigrated to San Francisco then returned to Italy to learn winemaking is one of the pleasures of a visit here. Equally appealing are the wines, particularly the Cabernet Sauvignons from the Monte Rosso Vineyard atop Sonoma Mountain and bottlings of Malbec, Cabernet Franc, and other Bordeaux varietals.
Multiple Tasting Options
In 2019, Louis M. Martini Winery unveiled a splashy multimillion-dollar hospitality center designed by the firm of Howard Backen, among the Wine Country’s top architects. You can sip wines standing up at a Crown Bar Tasting, where your view includes a barrel room, but to delve deeper into this legendary brand, book a Heritage Lounge Tasting or a Historic Tour & Tasting. A food pairing is available with the former; the latter takes in the Underground Cellar. The artifacts in the cellar include huge old barrels, vintage wine bottles, and the aforementioned print ad. Whichever tasting you choose, take the time to explore the landscaped grounds.
Why go: outdoor tasting spaces; professional hospitality; winery’s place in Napa Valley history.
Louis M. Martini Winery appears in 3 Historic Napa Valley Wineries Day Trip.