By Heather John Fogarty

Napa Valley is a short drive from San Francisco, but another world apart. Vineyards lined with mustard cover the lush valley floor and rugged hillsides, producing some of the most coveted wines in the world. It’s also famously home to luxury hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants and wines whose price tags would make the French blush. But Napa Valley locals know that the best-kept secrets in the region are less about snob appeal, and all about good taste and understated elegance—from small family wineries, artisan bakeries, and farmers markets to an epic hardware store, public bocce ball courts and an olive oil manufacturing company still bottling in an old barn. Here are some favorite insider spots for living like a local in wine country.

Click here for the Native Napa map.




>> Local Wine Shopping with Heather John Fogarty

Heather grew up in Napa Valley and later went on to be the wine and spirits editor at Bon Appétit among many other things. Despite her pedigree and resume, we love how down to earth she is about wine—she cares about the experiences wine draws out, the flavor it brings to the table, and none of the pretense. Here are two shops you might find her while she's visiting her old stomping grounds (pun seriously unintended). 

HJF: Many of the better family wineries that I grew up with are now owned by corporations—and while this means you can probably find most of these bottles back home in your local supermarket, there are still some great options for discovering true blue, under-the-radar Napa wines. I'm definitely loyal to local wines that reflect passion and personality.

Acme Fine Wines >> Some of the best (and most pricey) examples of Napa family wineries are on sale at Acme Fine Wines in St. Helena, which features a weekly Friday tasting.

Vintner's Collective >> At Vintner's Collective you can taste daily from a collective of small, mostly family-owned wineries who don't have their own tasting rooms—the kind of bottles that locals share over dinner because their neighbor is the winemaker. 

HJF's current Acme pick: 2014 Matthiasson Rosé ($23); HJF's current Vintner's Collective pick: 2011 Buoncristiani OPC Proprietary Red ($51).


[Guide created June 2015]