Saturday, September 19, 2009

Wine Shops in Napa Valley and Sonoma

There are a lot of interesting fine wine shops in California. Over the last ten years, I have on a regular basis purchased wines from a lot of wine shops, both on location and over Internet. What I look for is a broad and deep selection of wines, not only “the standard wine list”, but also some of the rare and most sought after wines. I also encourage high knowledge as well as a good sense selection among the many new entries – and this is something we always must demand of the stores we purchase wines from. As a longtime chef and sommelier, I also expect good service. That's essential for me to even consider buy wine in a wine shop. All of the wine shops mentioned here lives up to that, and therefore they are California Wine Report Recommended Wine Shops.

St Helena Wine Merchants
This is one of my favorite wine shops in Napa Valley. I always find some new and interesting wines here. Of course they focus on Napa Valley wines, but they also offer a good selection of Sonoma wines. Although most of the wines in the reserve room have heafty price tags, you’ll always find a good selection of very rare wines (the cult wines, all of them!) that are sold second hand from people on the wineries mailing lists. So this is a great opportunity to buy some of the most sought after wines. They also sell wines from private collections, so you are able to find older vintages of some of the most classic wines of Napa Valley.

699 St Helena Highway, St Helena, CA 94574

Dean & Deluca
Another of the great wine shops in the heart of Napa Valley, next door to St Helena Wine Merchants. They have a large selection of wines from all over California. Depending on the time of the year, the selection also includes some quite rare and sought after wines, such as Bond, Hundred Acre, Bucella, Levy & McLellan! On my last trip to Napa Valley in August, I was surprised to see all those rare wines. Prices can sometimes be slightly higher than elsewhere, but still most often acceptable.
Dean & Deluca is also the perfect store for fine food and sandwiches – a must have in the car during long days of winery visits (unless you take a break and visit some of the fine restaurants in the valley).

607 St Helena Highway (Highway 29), St Helena, CA 94574

The Wine Shop
This is a small, but great and well filled wine shop at the corner of the plaza in the small town Healdsburg in northern Sonoma. There is a good selection of predominantly Sonoma wines, but you will also find many fine wines from Napa, and also some from the Central Coast. In their small reserve room, there is a good selection of rare and exclusive wines, some of them sold second hand to quite high prices – but still you can at least find some of the great and rare stuff.

331 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, CA 95448

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