In the Napa Valley, sparkling wines are becoming more popular but are nowhere near the popularity of their still wine brethren. Domain Chandon is changing this though with a beautiful winery, a massive following of people anxious to purchase their wines and a unique winemaking process that creates an easy to drink, yet elegant sparkling wine. I got a chance to tour the immaculate property on my last trip to Yountville, and here is all the information so you can do it yourself.
- Tours at 10:30 AM and 3 PM daily
- Location: 1 California Dr, Yountville, CA 94599
- Information from my visit in 2016
From Highway 29, you will exit California Dr in Yountville then turn left and head under the highway. The winery sign is on the right once you go under the highway, and you can follow the signs up to the tasting room.
The property is incredibly beautiful with well-kept gardens, a small creek that runs through it, and a bridge you cross to enter. It is one of those spots that you will want to grab a glass of wine at, then just walk around and explore.
After getting there at around 10:20 AM, we met up with our guide Steve and set out to tour the property. Steve was fantastic and knowledgable about both sparkling and still wines, I felt like I learned a ton just from talking to him during the hour and a half we were there.
The winery itself is French-owned, and it was started in 1973. They have over 300 acres, 150 of that which is farmed. They source their grapes from a few different regions around the valley to create the specific taste they are looking for, one of the main regions being Carneros in between Napa and Sonoma.
On our tour, we set out from the storefront and crossed into the buildings where the wine was produced.
After walking up the stairs, we were right in the middle of two dozen large stainless steel fermentation tanks. This is where Steve explained the process to us for creating the wines. I won’t try to summarize it here, so make sure to take the tour if you are interested.
After that, we headed down into the cellar, where the wine is stored in a colder climate to ferment.
I found it interesting that the wine is stored upside down as they let the yeast collect in the bottom, then flash freeze it and pull the yeast out. It was fascinating to see and hear about since this is way different from standard wine production.
We also saw the area where they process the wine, add sugar if needed, then bottle and label it. This line of machinery was incredibly complex and surprising to see; it gave me a much better appreciation for the creation of sparkling wine.
After finishing the tour, we walked back over to the main room and began our tasting. This tasting is different than the typical tour tasting as we were on a private tour. The regular tastings are around 4-5 of the different varieties.
My wife and I had never really tasted sparkling wines, so I was very interested in how it differed from tasting regular wines. Steve lead us through the process and helped us understand the things you are looking for during the tasting.
I was impressed with the wines they were producing here. It was especially interesting to taste the reserve wines next to the non-reserve as the flavor/bubble difference was pretty staggering.
We also sampled the still wines they produce, and my wife liked the chardonnay, which had a great flavor. I recommend you give it a try if you are visiting the winery. After our tasting, we roamed the property to take in the gardens and the views. It is an amazing place to relax and hang out.
I had no idea what to expect on my visit to Domaine Chandon, but it ended up being one of my favorite wineries I visited in Napa Valley on this trip. The property itself is beautiful, our guide was incredibly knowledgable, and the wine was excellent. If you are looking for a fun/unique experience in Napa Valley, be sure to give it a try. Let me know what you think in the comments.