Think of it as Napa’s “underground” wine scene. Vineyards get all the love, but these beautiful wine caves show visitors that Napa Valley has more to offer wine lovers.
When you think of Napa Valley wine culture, you might envision beautiful rolling vineyards and grand chateaus with tasting rooms that open to verandas that overlook the valley. But a big part of what makes wine country here so distinct isn’t located above ground at all. We highlight a few of the most stunning commercial wine caves of Napa available to you when you stay at River Terrace Inn.
Jarvis Estate Winery
The Jarvis Estate Winery’s cave is both a work of art and a true technical marvel. Built some 20 years ago, the 45,000-square-foot cave features tunnels and caverns that house not just barrel storage, but the entire winemaking operation – an ideal setup because it allows the winemaker to maintain quality control by working in consistent conditions. Visitors embarking on a tour will find themselves in the Cuve Gallery, home to a dozen giant oak barrels, and standing before an underground waterfall, which again, isn’t just for aesthetic appeal. Sourced from an underground natural spring, it maintains the proper humidity level ideal for aging wines.
Porter Family Vineyards
Porter Family Vineyards also houses their winemaking operation completely underground – this one nestled 50 feet underground in the side of a hill (on which their vines grow). In fact, the only clue that the 17,000-square-foot facility even resides here is the two giant wooden doors that punctuate the west and east ends of the hill. Inside, you’ll find four fermentation bays home to a grand total of 40 massive 500-gallon fermentation tanks, as well as a wine library and tasting room decorated in pictures of when they first excavated the cave (including images of fossils they found as they tunneled).
Del Dotto Vineyards
Del Dotto features not just one cave, but two cave locations – a historic one in Napa that was originally dug in 1885 and a newer one dug by the Del Dottos themselves in 2007 in St. Helena. While the rustic historic option is certainly worthy of a visit, the newer one is quite a sight to see. Modeled after a Venetian Palace, it resembles a Naples museum more than a wine cellar thanks to 40-foot ceilings lined in crystal chandeliers, marble floors, columns, and imported Italian tiles that depict the history of wine. And why wouldn’t it? The Del Dotto family actually traces their roots back to the 1150s in Venice, so they designed the cave with that aesthetic in mind.
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars
Founded in 1970 by longtime Napa Valley resident Warren Winiarski, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars is home to a 38,000-square-foot cave that resides 100 feet underground and features hammered copper sconces and quartzite floors. But perhaps the most talked about detail is the cave’s massive pendulum that hangs within. One of only 50 Foucault Pendulums in the world, it symbolizes “the passing of time and the aging of wine.”
Pine Ridge Vineyards
Tucked 300 feet into a hillside at the Pine Ridge estate lies nearly a mile of cave tunnels in which they store their treasured wine. Reserved tastings are hosted in the cave’s Cellar 47, a lounge area that offers an atmosphere of rustic elegance with live-edge redwood tables, leather club chairs, nickel chandeliers, and a floor-to-ceiling view of the cave’s exposed rock wall. Private events can also be held in the Cabernet Caves section, a dramatic subterranean dining room surrounded by wine barrels, mood lighting, and Dale Chihuly glass sculptures.