In 1885, Chinese laborers dug a 350 foot wine cave, using only picks and shovels. This hand-dug cave and winery was one of the first wineries to appear in the Napa Valley, and is currently one of only six still in existence. In 1997, Dave and Yolanda Del Dotto restored the original winery and began aging their red wines in the caves. These Cave-Aged wines proved to be more voluptuous and opulent than those aged in modern facilities, and they continue to age their wines in these historic caves to this day, now dubbed Del Dotto Caves. In 1999, the Del Dotto family opened up their historic hand-dug cave to the public. Dave’s goal was to host extensive barrel-tasting tours to help educate wine lovers about the effects of different types of oak on barrel-aged wines. Del Dotto Vineyards has been experimenting with over 50 different barrel types from various cooperages around the world. These cooperages can be found in France, USA, Russia, Hungary, and Italy.
Today, visitors can come and experience wines that are poured right out of the barrel in the Del Dotto Cave Tour and Barrel Tasting Experience. They have side-by-side comparisons of the same wine aged in different barrels, such as a French oak to an American oak barrel. With up to 45 different wines for the host to choose from, visitors are sure to get a customized experience on each visit. Each tasting includes about eight wines from different barrels. After exiting the caves, the staff provides a selection of cheese and salami to cleanse the palate, followed up by Port and chocolate truffles. Del Dotto Caves also has a Bar Tasting, where they offer five wines or port at the bar, accompanied by fine cheese and breadsticks. The ambiance is accented with music consisting of a mix of opera and classic rock. Both tasting experiences are by appointment only and world wine critics voted the Cave Tour as the #1 tasting experience.
Del Dotto has two locations: one being their historic caves in Napa and the other their Venetian styled Estate caves and vineyard in St. Helena. They offer bar tastings, cave tours, and barrel tastings at both locations.