For the traveler seeking something more intimate, a little off the beaten path, and a little less obvious.
What I love about Kelly Fleming is that she is a real person. And I know that should seem obvious, but if I'm being honest, the "named" wineries have sort of lost the human element lately. In real life, Kelly Fleming is a salt-of-the-earth, good natured human being, dedicated to her land, her wines, and the people/animals she surrounds herself with. Her philosophy is to not treat the vines independently, but as a component of a broader environmental, biodynamic spectrum. It's a small but mighty team here, and together they produce some of the loveliest Cabernet's and Sauvignon Blanc's in Calistoga.
Napa Valley's "Best Kept Secret." Though the family owned winery keeps a fairly modest profile, it is widely regarded as one of the great hidden gems. Philippe Melka has called it home since the start of his professional winemaking career in Napa, departing directly from his internship at Dominus to start at Seavey in the early 1990's where he still remains as winemaking consultant. Tucked away on Howell Mountain, it doesn't quite meet the elevation requirement and thus claims the St. Helena AVA. While Seavey only produces a Chardonnay & Cabernet Sauvignon, they have a vast amount of Library wines back to the early 1990's available to taste and purchase at very reasonable prices.
So you don't love Cabernet. Failla is one of the only Napa Valley wineries that not only makes Pinot Noir, but specializes in it. Along with Chardonnay & Syrah owner/winemaker Ehren Jordan (Turley, Neyers) and his team set out to make beautifully crafted, elegant, restrained wines from various vineyards in both Napa Valley and Sonoma. The wines are ranked in the top of their class and the tasting experience is equal parts thoughtful, hospitable, and intimate. I count the hospitality team at Failla as one of the best and most educated in the valley, complete with wine professionals that range from CIA Wine Program Graduates to Master Sommelier.