Wine Tasting, a Break from the Crowds – Napa Valley

Escape the crowds of the high-production Napa wineries and join me on the outskirts for some high-quality, intimate wine tasting experiences. Here are two of my favorites!

Tamber Bey (1251 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515)

Just north up Hwy 29 past, St. Helena is the sleepy town of Calistoga, known for its mineral water and hot springs. Then, take a turn down Tubbs Lane, where you will find Tamber Bey, a lovely winery located at one of the largest horse ranches in the valley, Sundance Ranch. This unique wine tasting experience lets you interact with some of the 20+ horses housed at the ranch while sipping on superb wine. The ranch's original covered riding arena was converted to winemaking facilities. Approximately 15 wines are produced here, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and red Bordeaux varietals, to name a few.

Tastings are privately and intimately arranged in the winery's garden area with a few stables. If you're lucky, Zoe, or perhaps another Arabian beauty, might even pop her head over for a quick "hello." Then, peruse the grounds on a short guided walk around the ranch, allowing yourself to soak in nature and some Vitamin D. This wine tasting experience is perfect if you enjoy an outdoor experience combining horses, wine, and a chance to explore Napa off the beaten path a bit.

Amizetta Vineyards (1099 Greenfield Road, St. Helena, CA 94574)

Head out towards the Silverado Trail and up the famous Howell Mountain. Howell Mountain is known for its high-end Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Here you will find Amizetta Vineyards in the Conn Valley nestled somewhere up a narrow, winding road amidst the pine, oak, and madrone trees. Amizetta is a family-owned and operated winery that focuses on small, quality production. The youngest son (of three), Eddie, now serves as winemaker, tailoring the wines to be less tannic with more fruit-forward flavors. The eldest two sons, Spencer and Perry, manage all other facets of the winery to ensure Amizetta maintains the highest standards.

Tastings are private, usually held outdoors on Lake Hennessey's expansive patio. Guests have 1.5 hours to melt into the cushioned couches, sip on mouth pleasing vino, and unwind. A small tour of the wine cave is essential, accompanied by a taste out of the barrel. The atmosphere at Amizetta is quiet and peaceful, a perfect way to decompress away from the hustle and bustle.

What I love most about these wineries is the level of individual attention you receive during your visit. Your host has the time to explain each wine poured. Hence, you can gain a better understanding of the varietals offered in those specific vineyards.

Next time you venture into Napa Valley look for high-quality, private tasting experiences. Additionally, the journey out just a bit for a truly memorable day full of rich wine, breathtaking views, and perhaps a few horse sightings!


About the Author

Melanie is a psychology doctor, wife, mother of two ‘princesses,’ world traveler, and lover of life.  She is a pescatarian that enjoys exploring all world cuisines and who is a wine aficionado.  Melanie has lived abroad in both Salzburg, Austria as well as Hanoi, Vietnam.  Although for the past 15 years, she has called the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area home, allowing her to immerse herself in the superb, diverse cuisine and dozens of world-known wine appellations, all within driving distance.


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