Duckhorn Vineyards really needs no introduction; chances are you’ve seen their wines on high-end wine lists or perhaps at a local dinner party. This winery, with a decades-old tradition of crafting exceptional wines, is a fit for true enthusiasts. The reds in particular are absolutely delectable, although the Chardonnay is snapping at their heels.

If you’re looking for a divine Napa wine tasting experience set amongst the mesmerizing natural beauty of the valley, look no further than Duckhorn Vineyards.

Wineries don’t come with many more accolades than Duckhorn Vineyards, which recently snatched the title of “Wine of the Year” from Wine Spectator. With such quality and an expansive estate, it’s hard to believe this fabulous winery began as a humble 10-acre plot back in the 1970s.

History of Duckhorn Vineyards

The history of Duckhorn Vineyards is one of great triumph from humble beginnings.

The winery first began when Margaret and Dan Duckhorn purchased a modest 10-acre property in Napa Valley’s St Helena area. This was in 1976, and at the time, the Duckhorn’s couldn’t have known that the winery would grow on to become one of the best respected in the United States.

In 1978, Duckhorn Vineyards proudly released its first vintage - a humble offering of 800 cases of Merlot and 800 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon. The dream was officially underway.

A white varietal—Sauvignon Blanc—was added to the stable of wines in 1982, as Duckhorn Vineyards’ profile continued to grow throughout Napa and beyond. In the coming years, a number of additional properties were added to the portfolio, expanding the winemaking capabilities.

Over time, Duckhorn Vineyards’ reputation as one of the premier wineries in Napa began to spread. However, it wasn’t until 2001 that the doors to the winery’s first designated cellar door and visitor center were opened.

Throughout this time, a number of talented winemakers had been nurtured at Duckhorn Vineyards. An especially exciting moment was when young protegee Renee Ary officially took the reins in 2014, ushering in a new and exciting era for the vineyard.

It was not long after this that the winery acquired the Three Palms Vineyard, widely considered North America’s premier Merlot producing estate. So, as Duckhorn Vineyards turned forty, they also ushered in a new generation of exceptional production.

What to Expect

There’s no doubt that Duckhorn Vineyards offers up all of the ingredients for a brilliant tasting experience - so it’s no surprise it’s considered one of the best in the Napa Valley.

There’s a idle, elegant charm about the property, with the stunning estate house and its inviting wrap-around verandahs. The exquisitely manicured garden is a beautiful oasis below the Californian sun, with many native plants and shady spots to take a reflective moment.

Of course, the main attraction at Duckhorn Vineyards is the wine. With a number of tasting experiences available, everyone from a newbie wine drinker to experienced sommeliers will be well catered for at the winery.

From inside the beautiful estate house - which, despite its old school glamour is modern and contemporary inside - you will be treated to utter delights. Although the production has certainly increased since the winery’s humble beginnings, the underpinning ethos and commitment to quality has not changed.

Head winemaker Renee Ary considers winemaking to be an art not a science - and one that begins with the selection of only the best fruit. With some of California’s best terroir at Duckhorn Vineyards, they certainly have that at their fingertips. From there, it’s about bringing out the best in the fruit; allowing it to truly shine.

While there’s an emphasis on red varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, wine drinkers are not neglected by the offerings at Duckhorn Vineyards.

The standard tasting will allow you to appreciate this for yourself, having the chance to sample a selection of the vineyard’s exceptional wine while also learning about the label and production process. Or, you may prefer to enjoy one of the “elevated tastings”, where a greater variety (including museum releases, if you’re lucky!) is on offer.

In addition, the winery plays host to a number of special events throughout the year. Whether it’s enjoying an indulgent private tasting for a romantic occasion or joining in the fun of a wider community event, there’s always something happening amongst the beautiful grounds of Duckhorn Vineyards!

Awards and Accolades

Since its inception in 1976, Duckhorn Vineyards has amassed a laundry list of accolades. In fact, there aren’t many honors in the wine world that haven’t gone to Duckhorn over the years - several times over.

The entire winery has consistently ranked amongst the world’s best, including coming in on the top 100 wineries in the world by the esteemed publication Wine & Spirits. The Daily Meal also ranked it amongst the best wineries in America.

Individual wines have similarly bared great fruit for the winery (pardon the pun.) Each year, it seems a slew of Duckhorn bottles notch up 90+ points from the world’s premier critics. Recently, the 2016 Duckhorn Vineyards Napa Valley Chardonnay clocked in with 93 points from Wine & Spirits - enough to see it named the best Chardonnay of the year.

However, perhaps the largest achievement in recent years was thanks to the stellar 2014 Napa Valley Three Palms Vineyard Merlot. This brilliant red managed to secure the sought-after title of Wine Spectator’s 2017 Wine of the Year. A seriously impressive feat.

Wines to Try

It’s hard to have a bad wine at Duckhorn Vineyards, and the red drinkers will be particularly fond of their offerings. However, there are a few stand out wines that are absolutely divine.

Notably, Duckhorn Vineyards is the place to experience the phenomenon of the Californian Merlot. An oft-overlooked variety at times, Californian Merlot is making big waves - and Duckhorn Vineyards’ is considered the best. Forget what you think you know about Merlot and get ready for this elegant and seductive red.

Then there’s the Cabernet Sauvignon, which has been a staple for Duckhorn Vineyards since its first release in 1978. There are all the hallmarks of a classic and quality Napa Cabernet Sauvignon here - intensity, complexity and that wow factor.

Not a red drinker or just looking to try something different? There’s also the phenomenal Chardonnay, recently named America’s best.