Napa Valley’s Great Overlooked Source For Great Wine

The Top 10 Places To Buy Wine in Napa Valley

Conventional wisdom among Wine Country visitors looking for the “good stuff” is you must go directly to the winery where they store and sell their really rare and hard-to-find bottlings. While Wine Country tourists are often rewarded by their on-premise search for great and rare wines, there is in fact a much more efficient and reliable way for visitors to Napa Valley to get their hands on the finest and rarest: Local wine retailers.

Napa Valley’s wine specialty shops regularly buy their inventory directly from the wineries, rather than from distributors who tend to carry mainstream wines. Napa Valley’s best wine retailers also tend to have great relationships with local winemakers. Most important, local retailers know the small, under the radar wineries that are producing the rare and hard to find wines.

Visitors to Wine Country looking for what are arguably the best collections of rare and hard-to-find Napa Valley wines anywhere in America (as well as often killer selections of imported wines) should look to these Napa Valley wine shops 

1. 750 Wines (St. Helena, Napa Valley)
750750 Wines is a highly eclectic and personal selection of wines curated by owners David and Monica Stevens. One makes a reservation to visit this retail shop and it’s worth setting aside the time. Like at a winery, Monica and David will take you through a tasting of wines they currently have in inventory that are guaranteed to be unique, hard-to-find and among the best in their class.
• 707.963.0750


2. Acme Fine Wines (St. Helena, Napa Valley)
AcmeThe entire raison d’etre of Karen Williams’ Acme Fine Wines is to present wines that rarely if ever show up on retail shelves anywhere else in the country. This means small production, limited, and hard-to-find wines not only from the Napa Valley appellation but also from other regions across California. In addition, Acme regularly hosts tastings with the winemakers themselves.
• (707) 963-0440


3. Back Room Wines (Napa, Napa Valley)
BackroomFor the wine lover that has seen everything, this is the store where you discover you have in fact not seen it all. Back Room Wines’ Daniel Dawson finds and sells the obscure. Only 50 cases of this hillside Cabernet Sauvignon made? Daniel likely has a case. This is the place where you’ll spend a lot of time browsing and asking, “Who the heck makes this wine?”
• 1-877-322-2576


4. Bounty Hunter Rare Wine & Provisions (Napa, Napa Valley)
BountyhunterMark Pope created one of the most successful wine catalog sales companies in America by delivering recipients of his anticipated catalogue access to some of the most coveted wines made in Napa and California. The brick and mortar version of his catalogue is equally compelling. The focus is on highly desirable wines that sell out quickly. But there's a bonus here too: Lovely Barbecue at the restaurant also housed here.


5. Enoteca (Calistoga, Napa Valley)
EnotecaLocated in Calistoga at the north end of Napa Valley, Enoteca is Margaux Singleton’s (aka "MX") homage to the greatest wines of the world. Yes, you’ll find the Screaming Eagles and Araujos and Bonds of the rarefied Napa Valley wine world here, but Margaux is also dedicated to delivering an impressive collection of the world’s most coveted wines. This is why Enoteca is often the place local winemakers start when they are looking for something very special and different.
• 707-942-1117


6. Napa Valley Wine & Cigar (Napa, Napa Valley)
NapavalleywineandcigarLocated in a spacious building behind the Big O Tires off the Silverado Trail in the town of Napa, Napa Valley Wine & Cigar is where Randy and Carrie Bowman deliver a personal and well-rounded collection of the best of Napa and the entire wine world. Great cigars are on hand here too. Winemakers regularly deliver their best wines into this in-the-know shop. It’s a great place to finally find that wine you were looking for in an unsuspecting location. Plus, Carrie and Randy are loads of fun to talk to. Go, buy, hangout.
(707) 253-8696


7. Saint Helena Wine Center (St. Helena, Napa Valley)
SHwinecenterLocated in the heart of Saint Helena on Main Street, this little shop is just stunning. Not only will you find most of those Napa wines you drool over, but also you’ll find an outstanding selection of older vintages of some of the Valley’s most famous wines. The wineries may not have these older vintages for sale, but SHWC does!! You can spend a very long time browsing here, so set aside the time There is also a small but impressive collection of artisan spirits.


8. V Wine Cellars (Yountville, Napa Valley)
VwinecellarsV Wine Cellars is the sort of place a wine lover wanders into and suddenly realizes, “I’m Home!” Luckily your home is not only stocked with a stellar selection of wines from $5 to $5000, but it also has a number of comfy chairs and sofas to plop down into and contemplate your good fortune. The selection of wines is heavy on Napa’s very best and most desirable, but you’ll also find wines from the top estates from around the world.
• 707 531 7053


9. Wine Garage (Calistoga, Napa Valley)
WinegarageWine Garage is probably the most unique retailer on this list, for a couple reasons. First, it’s housed in an old auto garage (perhaps the best use I’ve ever seen of an old auto repair shop). Second, no wine at the Wine Garage costs more than $25. What’s remarkable is that at this relatively low price point you still are confronted with wines you’ve never heard of before; small production gems that will have you buying by the case. The Wine Garage also puts to rest the myth that you need to spend and arm and a leg to buy great wines from California. Another “Must Stop”.
• 707-942-5332

At the very reasonable request of readers, we add a #10:

JV10 JV WINES (Napa, Napa Valley)
JV Wines has "one of the best import selections in the whole Northbay…You have to give JV the nod as far as breadth and size of the selection, particularly in Imported wines along with Oregon & Washington Pinot's. You can find First Growth Bordeaux's back into the 80's and the latest small lot wines of Napa and beyond. • 707.253.2624

12 Responses

  1. nick - November 1, 2011

    that’s only 9 bro

  2. Tom Wark - November 1, 2011

    Got a 10th to suggest?

  3. Eric Murray - November 1, 2011

    Yes, JV Wine & Spirits. They offer a fine selection of hard to find local wines as well as the largest selection in Napa Valley of imported wines and Champagne, especially grower-producers.

  4. Travis - November 1, 2011

    11: Vinters Collective – Napa
    Great selection, very knowledgeable staff. Andy is “The Man” when it comes to recommending great wines.

  5. Mark Buckley - November 1, 2011

    I think you should include JV Wine in that list. They have one of the best import selections in the whole Northbay. If you include Backroom, you have to give JV the nod as far as breadth and size of the selection, particularly in Import along with Oregon & Washington Pinot’s. Their prices beat everybody else too. You can find First Growth Bordeaux’s back into the 80’s and the latest small lot wines of Napa and beyond.

  6. Mark Buckley - November 1, 2011

    JV has been around 25 years guys, so it deserves a little respect.

  7. Mark Buckley - November 1, 2011

    Is this your list Tom or is this a consensus of people who actually shop in the valley? High end vs low end? 1313 Main is a new kid on the block and they probably have one of the best High End selections going with great ambiance. Perhaps there should be a user vote on this

  8. Tom Wark - November 1, 2011

    With regard to JV Wines….They are on the list. Thank you.

  9. Renee - November 2, 2011

    Love the Wine Garage when we stayed in Calistoga! I think we bought at least a case of wine and enjoyed each selection. It was almost 10 years ago, but I still remember that shop and the wonderful service as well!

  10. Doug Wilder - November 3, 2011

    A good list, Tom! I know most of these shops and their owners well. A retailer who knows their wines is a tremendous consumer resource as they often have the wines before anyone has written about them.

  11. Cross Channel MOJO - December 8, 2011

    good collection
    thanks for sharing

  12. Web design sydney - January 4, 2012

    It was almost 10 years ago, but I still remember that shop and the wonderful service as well!

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