Thanks to all of you who gave me advice on which wineries to visit during my Napa visit. We just got back from a great weekend there, and I thought I would report back on my impressions.
1) Mumm - Very interesting tour that is actually free. And at the end of the tour they give you a pin that then entitles you to 15% off tastings and purchases of bottles. We had a tasting on the patio after the tour. There was a lovely view, and very friendly table service. Husband and I split generous pours of their 5 best sparkling wines (I think the tasting of their 2 DMX wines was around $23 and the other three that were the next level down were $18, before discount?). We really enjoyed everything we tasted, and ended up buying two bottles: DVX 2000 ($55 before 15% discount) and Reserve Brut ($30 before discount). A very nice experience. We would definitely go there again on a future trip to the area.
2) Jarvis - The tour was very interesting, and the underground caves, complete with a waterfall, were beautiful. But the whole experience was a little snobby for our taste. I should mention that we are wine novices, so what is too snobby for us might be a perfect fit for someone else. While the cave was beautiful, we were not allowed to take pictures inside—something we had never encountered before. We enjoyed all the wines we tasted—I think we had a total of 7, all very good. They ranged from $75 to $165, which was out of our price range for bottle purchases. But the $30 fee for the tour and tastings was certainly worth it, given the number of excellent and expensive wines we got to taste. But this wasn't a great match for us, as relatively low budget wine novices, so we would not visit here again in the future.
3) Del Dotto (Napa) – This tour was very interesting, and our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable as well as very friendly and approachable. (The Mumm tour guide was good, but a little green. The Jarvis tour guide was very knowledgeable, but we didn't feel as comfortable with her.) Thierry from Del Dotto was an expert with a sense of humor, someone we felt comfortable asking any question. This tour was especially interesting because we drank wine tapped directly from the barrel, and we got to see how different aspects of the barrel affect the taste. In general, we learned a lot. I'm not sure how many wines we tasted (8?), but the tour was well worth the $40 we paid. I would definitely go again next time we are in the area. Unfortunately our very favorite wines were $125 (too pricey for our budget), but the wines we tasted were about $35 upward, and we ended up purchasing a nice bottle of merlot for around $55. All in all, we had a lot of fun.
4) Gloria Ferrer – We did not go to an official tour or tasting here, but we attended a wedding and had a wonderful experience. Very pretty grounds, and excellent sparkling wine.
Well, I hope that this write-up is helpful to others in the future. I learned a lot from all our tours and tastings, but I probably learned the most at Del Dotto. Happy wine drinking!