Benchmark Wineries

Beaulieu Vineyards 

Beaulieu Vineyard was established by Georges de Latour and his wife Fernande in 1900 near the town of Rutherford. Following the repeal of prohibition, Latour hired André Tchelitscheff, a Russian trained as a winemaker in France. Under Tchelistcheff’s guidance, Beaulieu’s wines quickly became some of Napa Valley’s finest—a reputation that continues to this day. Tchelitscheff also became a mentor to dozens of winemakers including Mike Grgich, Joe Heitz, and Robert Mondavi. Today the George de Latour Reserve Cabernet is considered one of the valley’s top red wines. 

Beringer Vineyards 

Founded in 1876 by brothers Jacob and Frederick Beringer, Beringer Vineyards is the oldest continuously operating winery in the Napa Valley. In 1934 after the repeal of Prohibition, the winery was the first to offer public tours, sparking wine tourism in the valley. Later, the winery’s Private Reserve collection became one of Napa’s benchmarks for outstanding wines. In 2015 Mark Beringer, the great, great grandson of founder Jacob Beringer returned “home” as the chief winemaker. 

Chappellet Winery 

On the advice of legendary winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff, Dom Chappellet settled with his family in the eastern hills high above Napa Valley in 1967. Since that time the Chappellet family has produced outstanding wines of great depth, concentration, and ageability from the steep, rugged Pritchard Hill Vineyard. 

Charles Krug Winery 

Charles Krug was among the first true pioneers of wine in Napa Valley. After serving as an assistant winemaker to Agoston Haraszthy and John Pratchett, Krug established his own winery, Napa Valley’s first, in 1861. Following Prohibition, the property was purchased by Cesare and Rosa Mondavi and has remained in the family since that time. Today, the winery owns 850 acres in Napa Valley from Carneros to Howell Mountain, more than half of which are planted to vineyards and sustainably farmed.

Chateau Montelena 

Chateau Montelena’s origins go back to 1882 when Alfred L. Tubbs purchased 254 acres north of Calistoga near Mount St. Helena. The winery’s modern history dates to 1968 when Lee and Helen Paschich purchased the property and brought in James Barrett and Earnest Han as partners. In 1972 Barrett replanted the vineyard, created a winery in the historic buildings on property, and brought in Mike Grgich as winemaker. A short four years later the 1973 vintage of Chardonnay won first place in the white wine competition in the famous Judgment of Paris tasting--one of the landmark events in California wine history. Since that time the wines of Chateau Montelena have been among Napa’s best. 

Clos du Val Winery 

After a two-year search for a vineyards site to grow and produce wines from Bordeaux varieties, Bernard Portet and John Goelet found a perfect spot in Napa Valley’s Stag’s Leap District. They established Clos du Val in 1972, purchasing 150 acres and planting Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and other Bordeaux varieties. The following year they purchased 180 acres in the Los Carneros region and planted Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Clos du Val wines are known for their elegance and balance. 

Diamond Creek Winery 

In 1968 Al Brounstein planted three small vineyards on a remote Diamond Mountain site with Bordeaux varieties. The three vineyards, Red Rock Terrace, Gravely Meadow, and Volcanic Hill had completely different soil types. Brounstein quickly noted that wines from the three sites were completely different in character and began to bottle them separately, becoming one of the first champions of single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. The Diamond Creek wines have long been known for ageability, complexity, and finesse. 

Domaine Chandon 

Founded in 1973 by Champagne house Moët et Chandon and John Wright, Domaine Chandon is the first French-owned sparkling wine producer in Napa Valley. Domaine Chandon makes a range of classic method sparkling wines and still wines from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. The winery is located in the town of Yountville and has vineyards in the AVA’s of Los Carneros, Mt. Veeder, and Yountville. 

Grgich Hills Estate 

Winemaker Mike Grgich rose to international fame overnight when his 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay won first prize for white wines in the famed Paris Tasting in 1976. The following year Grgich and Austin Hills (of Hills Brothers Coffee) teamed up to establish Grgich Hills Cellar. In 2006 the winery went to producing estate wines only and the name was changed to Grgich Hills Estate. The winery also converted to solar energy in 2006. All the vineyards are certified organic or biodynamic.

Groth Vineyards and Winery 

Dennis Groth and his wife Judy founded the winery in 1982. They initially purchased a 121-acre property near the town of Oakville. With his expertise in Bordeaux varieties, Nils Venge was hired as the winemaker. The winery achieved overnight recognition when their 1985 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was awarded a perfect score by Robert Parker. 

Harlan Estate 

In 1984 Bill Harlan, a real estate developer and Napa Valley resort owner, purchased a 240-acre property with steep hillsides west of Oakville. Forty acres of the parcel was cleared and a vineyard planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varieties. Bob Levy was hired as director of winemaking in 1983 and Michel Rolland has served as consulting enologist since 1989. Bill’s ambition to create a first growth wine in Napa has resulted in wines of international renown that are highly sought after. 

Heitz Wine Cellar 

Joe Heitz was one of the first seven individuals to receive a master's degree in viticulture and enology in 1951 from U.C. Davis. After graduating he worked at Gallo and then for ten years as an assistant winemaker under the legendary André Tchelitscheff at Beaulieu Vineyard. In 1964, Heitz acquired an 1898 stone winery on 160-acres east of St. Helena. The site became the Heitz winery and family home. In 1965 Joe signed a long-term agreement to purchase Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from Tom and Martha May. The following year Heitz became the first winery in Napa Valley to bottle a single vineyard wine from Martha’s Vineyard. The wine was immediately hailed as a benchmark and since that time Heitz has remained one of Napa’s top Cabernet producers. 


In 1879 Gustave Niebaum, a Finnish sea captain, established the Inglenook winery near the town of Rutherford with the intent to make great wines that would rival Europe’s finest. After the repeal of Prohibition, Niebaum's great-nephew, John Daniel Jr. took over the winery and the wines were soon considered among Napa Valley’s best. In 1975 famed director Francis Ford Coppola purchased the property and have spent the last forty years restoring the winery and vineyards to its former heritage. 

Louis M. Martini Winery 

In June of 1933 Louis M. Martini purchased a property south of St. Helena and built a winery—one of the first in the region to open its doors after the repeal of Prohibition. For over 80 years the winery has been home to outstanding Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2019 a significant restoration of the original winery is completed, introducing an array of world-class tasting and culinary experiences.

Opus One 

In 1980 Robert Mondavi and Baron Phillippe de Rothschild of Château Mouton Rothschild announced a joint venture to produce a world-class red wine from Bordeaux varieties. The winery would be called Opus One. The inaugural 1979 vintage was released in 1984. In 1989 a new winery was built and a second wine called Overture has been produced since 1993. Now some 40 years later, Opus One remains a sought-after Napa Valley bottling.

Robert Mondavi Winery 

After leaving the Charles Krug winery, Robert Mondavi founded the winery in 1966 bearing his name with sons Michael and Tim Mondavi. Their goal was to produce wines that could compete with Europe’s finest. Part of the original vineyard included the To Kalon vineyard originally established in 1868 by Napa Valley pioneer H.W. Crabb. The winery has always focused on single varietal wines and is known for its dry Sauvignon Blanc, called Fumé Blanc, and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. The winery itself was designed in a California mission style and is now considered an architectural icon as well as host to an annual summer music festival.


 In 1965 Jack and Jamie Davies purchased the Schramsberg winery in the hills above St. Helena. Though the winery had a long history dating back its founding by Jacob Schram in 1862, it had been in decline for years, before the Davies bought the property. They quickly set about making outstanding classic method sparkling wine. Their 1969 Blanc de Blancs was served in Beijing at the “Toast of Peace” in 1972 between then President Richard Nixon and Chinese Premier Chou Enlai. Schramsberg sparkling wines have been served by every administration since. 

Screaming Eagle 

Jean Phillips, a former real estate agent, bought a 57-acre Oakville vineyard in 1986. The vineyard was planted to a mix of Bordeaux varieties and a small amount of Sauvignon Blanc. In time she hired Heidi Peterson Barrett as winemaker whose initial vintage garnered a near perfect score. With an annual production of around 500 cases Screaming Eagle became one of the first cult wines and is one of the most sought-after Napa Valley wines. 

Stags Leap Wine Cellars 

The winery was founded in 1970 after Warren Winiarski purchased a 44-acre parcel of land in the southern end of the valley. The first vintage produced was in 1972 with Winiarski overseeing winemaking and assisted by Andre Tchelistcheff. The second vintage of Cabernet Sauvignon from 1973 was rated the top red wine at the historic Judgment of Paris in 1976 and put the winery into the international spotlight. The winery’s flagship red wine, called "Cask 23," was once described by Winiarski as an “iron fist in a velvet glove.”  

Sterling Vineyards

English expatriate Peter Newton founded Sterling Vineyards in 1964 with the first vintage in 1969. Today the winery farms over 1,200 acres of vineyards with emphasis on Bordeaux and Burgundy varieties. The iconic winery was designed after that of the Greek island of Mykonos and is perched 300 feet above the town of Calistoga and offers panoramic views of Napa Valley.