Sullivan Vineyards Review
Wine Quality: Uniformly excellent
Tourist Experience: Laid back, friendly, fun. One of the best in Napa Valley.
Sullivan has been a family wine-making operation since founder Jim Sullivan opened it in the 1970s. Today, a second generation of Sullivans run the place. It's best known for its "big" red wines and was named one of the top 50 wineries in the world by Wine Spectator magazine in 1994.
Sullivan sensibly didn't become snobbish because of the recognition or build a pretentious, shiny new tasting room. All the awards, medals and ratings they've received since then didn't change them much, either. In fact, it's the irresistible combination of unpretentious service and amazing wines that makes a visit so much fun.
The wine-tasting experience at Sullivan is rooted in simplicity. They've created a pretty place to sit beneath soaring redwood trees with a view of the surrounding vineyards. The friendly staff pours some great wines - and Sean Sullivan (the oldest brother) often stops by to say hello to visitors, or even guide their tasting.
We've visited dozens of wineries while researching our top picks and Sullivan is one of the rare few where we enjoyed every single wine they poured. While they're primarily a red wine-maker, their whites are also delicious and we loved their "Pink Ink" - a dry, blended blush wine - so much that we took home several bottles. And the white wine-drinkers in our group like the reds, too. In fact, that's another reason to visit Sullivan: They sell their limited production primarily through their tasting room, so the only way to enjoy it is to stop in.
Another fun extra are the classic cars that are often parked on the lawn beside the lake, including a 1958 Corvette and a classic Thunderbird.
Sullivan is dog-friendly, too. Not only are you likely to encounter their own friendly yellow Labrador retriever on the way in, but you're welcome to bring your own pooch, too.
Just the Facts About SullivanTypes of Wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, some blends
Charge for Tasting: Yes, waived with a minimum wine purchase
Winery Tours: Available by reservation only, with 48 hours notice
Reservations: Reservations are required (by their permit)
Wine Price: Mostly in the $40-plus range per bottle, but the well-regarded Red Ink and Pink Ink blends are just a little over $20.
Getting to Sullivan Vineyards1090 Galleron Rd.
St Helena, CA
Sullivan Vineyards Website Sullivan Vineyards is located east of CA Hwy 29 and west of Silverado Trail, south of the town of St. Helena. Turn east onto Galleron Road, which is south of Zinfandel Lane and North of Rutherford Road.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with a complimentary tour for the purpose of reviewing Sullivan Vineyards. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.