You’ve likely never heard of Newton Vineyard. Created in 1977, the Napa Valley winery has been closed to the public for most of its history. While Newton sits in St. Helena, it’s tucked away — Uber drivers have a hard time pinpointing the location — and its Instagram account sits postless.
But this is a winery you’ll want to know. Newton’s lush, fruit-forward 2015 Puzzle red blend (cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot, cabernet franc and malbec) transfixes your palate, and the vineyard’s well-tended gardens with crisscrossed hedges and roses entice the eyes.
A pioneer of unfiltered wine in the United States, Newton was one of the first wineries in Spring Mountain. Peter Newton and his wife, Su Hua, expanded their one-square-mile Spring Mountain parcel to a 170-acre estate that also spans Yountville, Mount Veeder and Carneros. In 2001, Newton joined the LVMH portfolio, an elite group that includes names you would instantly recognize — Dom Pérignon, Krug, Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon and Ruinart.
But Peter established is own impressive credentials before starting up Newton. In 1964, he founded Sterling Vineyards, a Calistoga winery heralded for its Bordeaux-style reds and Mykonos-inspired architecture, and then sold it to Coca-Cola in 1977. He was one of the first vintners to bring merlot to the valley and is credited with helping make Napa the wine destination it is today.
Finally, Newton is peeling back the curtain on its operations. Several new appointment-only experiences invite you to come in for a taste. One of the best offerings is the two-hour Newton Vineyard Exploration. You’ll journey up steep Spring Mountain in Napa’s first electric ATV to Pino Solo, a brand-new covered deck that sits 1,600 feet above the valley floor. As you savor pours like the crisp single-vineyard chardonnay and the velvety Spring Mountain cabernet sauvignon, you’ll take in panoramic views of St. Helena and Howell Mountain. A five-guest cap ensures an intimate tasting.
Opt to add lunch onto the customizable tour; Newton arranged for Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Meadowood Napa Valley to cater our delectable spread, which included grilled fish, steak, roasted vegetables and fudgy brownies. Breaking bread with the top-notch wines made our tasting feel more leisurely.
For an up-close look at Newton’s winemaking process, choose the 90-minute Single Vineyard Immersion. We descended into the wine caves for a tour and tried two fresh-from-the-barrel 2018 chardonnays that were only weeks old — both came from the same Carneros vineyard and the same block, but the grapes had different pick times. Just weeks apart, one had green apple notes, and the other had a more mineral taste.
After the tour, we wandered the grounds, where you’ll discover personal touches left over from the Newton family — a red telephone booth is a nod to English journalist-turned-businessman-and-winemaker Peter, while the red Asian gate pays homage to Su Hua’s Chinese roots. Among the 11 gardens, the standout is the picture-perfect French section, which was designed by avid gardener Peter.
You’ll want to while away the day amid the corkscrew-shaped trees, immaculately trimmed box hedges, towering Italian cypresses and gurgling fountain. The scenery alone is worth a visit. But you can’t spend too much time meandering through the secret garden because wine awaits in the tasting room, the capper for the Single Vineyard Immersion experience.
In the sunny space, we swirled and sipped the aforementioned Puzzle (Newton’s most popular wine), a spice-laden 2015 Yountville cabernet sauvignon, a tannic 2015 Mount Veeder cabernet sauvignon and more. One of the perks of the tasting room visit is that Newton lets you try some limited bottles that it doesn’t distribute. It’s just another secret that won’t be under wraps for much longer.
Where To Stay
There are two excellent hotels in St. Helena. Meadowood has the same secluded vibe as Newton with rustic-chic cottages dotting the grounds. It also made our 2018 Verified List for the World’s Most Luxurious Spas, which means extravagant pampering is on the spa menu. At Las Alcobas, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Napa Valley, all accommodations have patios with a gas-lit fire pit and some come with alfresco tubs.
A little farther away, all-suite Bardessono Hotel and Spa offers a Four-Star sustainable stay (it’s a LEED Platinum certified hotel) in restaurant-filled Yountville.
And if you prefer to stay in revitalized downtown Napa, the new Archer Hotel Napa boasts the hottest rooftop in town, complete with fire pits and lots of places to lounge. Sitting along the water, Four-Star Napa River Inn is a historic option with its own live music venue, Silo. We checked into Andaz Napa, which embraces its surroundings — the lobby has a wall covered with a local wineries map and barrel-shaped tables, and the modern rooms are stocked with grape-seed-packed toiletries from 29 by Lydia Mondavi, of the famed wine family.