HALL Rutherford
HALL Rutherford
December 15, 2017
Starmont Tasting Room
Itinerary: A Day Trip to Napa Valley
January 30, 2018

Raining in Napa? Head to the Caves

Robert Mondavi Cellar - Barrel Room

I know, I know… It’s raining.

And just how are you supposed to enjoy wine tasting in Napa Valley if it’s raining? In the caves, of course.

Shall we?

Cave Tastings

When the weather outside is throwing a wrench into your plans, simply head inside for your Napa Valley wine tasting experiences.

Below are a few caves I’ve been fortunate enough to visit (plus one I’d like to visit), and I wholeheartedly recommend these options for ANY day, rain or shine.

Hall Rutherford

A small but beautiful cave system lies beneath the property at HALL Rutherford.

HALL Rutherford

HALL does indeed store wine here, but these caves are anything but cold, damp storage tunnels.

Rather, HALL has purposefully mixed beauty into utility, creating caves that are adorned with artwork, sculptures, a barrel-tasting station, and a warm and inviting atmosphere.

The tasting room at the end of the cave is itself quite spectacular. “Growing” from the ceiling hangs a huge chandelier in the form of a vine’s root system. The roots drip with sparkling crystals, resulting in an incredible ambiance.

The cave is beautiful, the experience is fabulous, and the wines are killer.

All good things.

Clos Pegase

On those days when you’d rather be inside, opt for the Connoisseur Cave Tour & Tasting at Clos Pegase in Calistoga.

Though this experience takes you outside for a bit when weather permits, the wine cave is where you spend the bulk of your time.

There are 20,000 sq. ft. of caves at Clos Pegase, yet you never feel lost in the expanse.

The subtle lighting throughout the tunnels creates a warm and cozy atmosphere, and the “cave theatre” in which you enjoy your pairing is inviting and attractive as well.

Alcoves housing various renditions of Bacchus let you know you’re in good company, and photo ops abound at every corner.

Plus, you know, wine and cheese.

Thumbs up.

Robert Mondavi Winery

Robert Mondavi Winery doesn’t so much have a cave as it has a cellar.

A really BIG cellar. A really beautiful cellar.

You should probably see it for yourself. Here, have a look…

Robert Mondavi Cellar - Barrel Room

As expected, the cellar is underground, and row after immaculate row of barrels store quite a bit of wine.

On two sides of the great hall are soundproof rooms reserved for their higher-end experiences, but even the standard tours allow access to this large, very well cared for and wonderfully symmetrical cellar.

Have I mentioned that I love symmetry?

If you’re looking for your next Instragram shot, I think you’ve found it.

Pride Mountain Vineyards

Located high upon Spring Mountain in St. Helena is Pride Mountain Vineyards.

Here’s a little fun fact for you: half of the property lies within Napa county, and the other half is in Sonoma County so — bonus — you can visit both wine countries at once. 😉


Photo: Pride Mountain Vineyards

Pride’s Estate Tasting includes a tour of the winery, so grab your glass and enjoy the facility and caves while progressing through their current releases.

Hint: Upgrade to the Summit Experience and enjoy your whole visit in the caves.

If the rain lets up at all, puh-LEASE make your way to the picnic area further up the driveway. If there are any views to have on the day, they will be magnificent.

Palmaz Vineyards

Go big or go home — #amiright?

Ok, I haven’t actually been to this one. But I WANT to, because Palmaz takes wine-making technology to a WHOLE new level. Eighteen levels, to be precise, because that’s how far below ground this winery extends.

And at the heart of the winery? The “Fermentation Dome”.

**Record scratch** 

Say whaaat? WHAT is a “fermentation dome”?

This is a fermentation dome:

Palmaz Fermentation DomePhoto: Palmaz Vineyards

It’s a planetarium of wine-making information, with all sorts of remotely managed wine-related data projected onto the ceiling.

I can’t wait to see it for myself one day.

Rumor has it there is also a pretty sweet Porsche collection on site, but I can’t personally confirm that. YET.

Meritage Resort

One of these caves is not like the others….

The caves at the Meritage Resort in Napa may store wine. I’m not even sure. What I DO know for sure is that it houses a SPA!

Yes, you may want to visit the tasting room within these caves, but… well, did I mention there’s a spa?

It’s dark and cozy and romantic — and just right for a rainy winter day.

Spa Terra at the MeritagePhoto: http://meritagecollection.com/

Between the spa services, the gift shop, the wine tasting salon… There’s really no reason to leave the cave if you don’t need to.

That being said, visiting the spa gives you access to the pool. If the day allows, I’d highly recommend lounging poolside for a few, if just for the fantastic hillside vineyard view.

Off you go, now! Enjoy the rainy day.

Ice Cube Says:

Chickity-check yo’ self
before you wreck yo’ self.
With this.


  1. Jennifer says:

    Jarvis and Cade should be in this list – as two of the top 10 caves and probably top 5 in all of Napa. Nothing compares to Palmaz of course. Checkerboards 20,000 sq foot cave is quite impressive. Antica with the thick mold growing on the interior is cool. By far the best party cave (private) is at Tusk Estate. I’ve been to over 140 wine caves in the Napa Valley – I know there are more 🙂

    As far as cellars on the valley floor like mondavi, nickel & nickels 30,000 square foot cellar is impressive – and is del dotto’s st helena cellar cut and cover/cave

    • Ali says:

      Thanks again for the suggestions, you’re very experienced in Napa wineries. You’re giving me so much fodder for future visits (and post updates).

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