Sip Bordeaux-style wines in historic winery’s Napa Valley tasting room.
“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. In 1933 he established a winery about a mile and a quarter south of downtown St. Helena.
Soak Up the History
Soaking up the history of Louis M. Martini Winery, whose Italian-born namesake emigrated to San Francisco, later returning briefly 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 Moon Mountain in Sonoma 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. Depending on the day or time of year, the tasting options vary. You can sip a few wines at a Crown Bar Tasting, where your view includes a barrel room; weather-permitting, you can do the same a few steps outside in Martini Park. To delve deeper into this legendary brand, consider a Heritage Tasting of small-production wines, with or without a food pairing. Up the ante from spring to mid-fall by reserving a Cabana Tasting (up to 10 people), at which several wines are paired with sizeable bites. The splurge at Martini ($325 per person as of March 2022), the Underground Cellar Experience, which involves food and small-lot and library wines, takes place amid huge old barrels, vintage wine bottles, the aforementioned print ad, and other artifacts. 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.
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This story first appeared in 2019; it was updated in 2022.