Best Wineries
OVID winery exterior.

Visit OVID Napa Valley in St. Helena

By Published On: June 2nd, 2023

On Pritchard Hill, this winery ponders the big questions with a sense of place and purpose.

OVID Napa Valley is set 1,500 feet atop Pritchard Hill, on the eastern hills of the Napa Valley, with stunning views of Oakville, Rutherford and St. Helena below, across from the Mayacamas Mountain Range, the western border separating the Napa Valley from Sonoma County.

OVID winery patio with views of the Napa Valley from its perch atop Pritchard Hill.
OVID overlooks all of the Napa Valley from its perch atop Pritchard Hill. Photo Courtesy: OVID Napa Valley.

OVID has a 100-year-outlook for its property and its legacy and is dedicated to the pursuit of best practices in the vineyard and cellar to achieve the best quality. As a result of this mindset, it makes some of the most coveted wines in California. To visit is to truly understand how difficult this can be from its location and how important it is to take a long-term approach.

OVID winery vineyard.
OVID pursues best practices in the vineyard. Photo Courtesy: OVID Napa Valley.

Its tasting space takes full advantage of its high-elevation perch overlooking what feels like the world, with floor-to-ceiling windows that take in the sky. The big airy room has the design aesthetic of a modern home library, with comfy couches and bookshelves lined against the side windows, and one long wooden table in the middle, where tastings are held. 

Tastings are private, centered on a selection of current wines and by reservation only.

OVID winery's Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and other wines.
OVID is an inveterate experimenter, making Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and other wines. Photo Courtesy: OVID Napa Valley.

Tasting the Wines at OVID Napa Valley

With a philosophy of being “grounded in seclusion and generosity,” OVID’s private tastings are by reservation only and held in the Great Room of the winery, with grand views that span from the San Francisco to Calistoga and westward to the Pacific Ocean.

OVID winery tasting room interior.
Tastings at OVID are held in their Great Room. Photo Courtesy: OVID Napa Valley.

A long wooden table is set in the middle of the room, with bookcases and comfy couches set along the walls and floor-to-ceiling windows that take in the view and vineyard. It is a spectacular perspective for understanding not only OVID but the wilds and wonders of Pritchard Hill. 

OVID winery sits atop Pritchard Hill.
OVID sits atop Pritchard Hill. Photo Courtesy: OVID Napa Valley.

For those who cannot make it in person, OVID offers virtual tastings from its Great Room that range from current offerings to library selections from their cellar or yours.

Reach out to the winery directly for the best way to schedule.

The Wines of OVID Napa Valley

OVID makes several estate wines. Its flagship, OVID Napa Valley, is its flagship, a blend that changes year to year in subtle ways, meant to reflect both the vineyard and the winery’s guiding philosophy of letting the wine guide winemaker Austin Peterson rather than he guiding the wine.

Ovid Winery Winemaker Austin Peterson.
Winemaker Austin Peterson. Photo Courtesy: OVID Napa Valley.

Though the details may change, the substance of the wine each vintage is built around Cabernet Sauvignon, with a contrast of Cabernet Franc and small amounts of Merlot and Petit Verdot. 

OVID winery grapes at harvest.
Grapes at harvest. Photo Courtesy: OVID Napa Valley.

OVID states that, “Cabernet does not demand a great deal of attention. We provide it anyway. This is the difference between simply growing a grape and coaxing an enthralling story out of it. When given independence and tasked with being self-sufficient, Cabernet displays both fortitude and a splendid imagination.”

OVID continues to experiment with where and how Cabernet Sauvignon is planted on its estate, exploring slopes and expositions with a great level of care and attention to detail.

Team member working in OVID winery barrel room.
OVID spares no details in the making of its wines. Photo Courtesy: OVID Napa Valley.

2019 was a Goldilocks vintage in Napa Valley, with idyllic summertime temperatures and sustained but relatively moderate heat leading up to harvest. 

The 2019 OVID Napa Valley is described this way: “Perfect ripe mulberry, bay laurel, cassis and red tobacco leaf intermingle with boysenberry, fresh plum, cerise and iodine. Beautifully balanced, this taut and powerful vintage delivers mouthwatering freshness, intensity and poise that will continue to reveal its many delightful layers for decades to come.” 

Beautiful views from OVID winery.
Gorgeous view from winery. Photo Courtesy: OVID Napa Valley.

Hexameter is OVID’s Cabernet Franc-focused wine. It was the first to go from being an experimental wine to a flagship, an experiment that took five years to refine. It is named for the poetic meter used in much of Greek and Roman poetry. The winery believes that Cabernet Franc is incredibly sensitive to place and thus a detailed lens into its terroir, “Hexameter articulates the life force of our vineyard.”

OVID winery's 2019 Hexameter wine.
2019 Hexameter. Photo Courtesy: OVID Napa Valley.

“The resulting 2019 Hexameter reflects this spectacular vintage with perfectly poised power and grace. Notes of plum, Rainier cherry and boysenberry all picked at their zenith meld with aromas of rhubarb pie, lavender, sage and forest floor. Layered and redolent, this wine strikes a perfect balance of depth, vibrancy and brawn that will reward for decades to come.”

OVID Napa Valley Syrah dates back to 2009 from a small, ¾-acre area between the main vineyard blocks and the winery. It serves as a contrast to the Cabernet Sauvignon, meant to cast a different perspective and the winemakers let the vintage and their own curiosities determine its path each year, made in tiny batches.

“Vivacious and brimming with power, the 2019 OVID Syrah exudes dense notes of fresh blueberry and boysenberry, rose petals, tar and licorice root. Bay leaf and molasses lend depth to the aromas and complement the layered and burnished palate. Enchanting and ebullient, this wine will continue to reward for many years to come.”

OVID winery 2019 Syrah wine.
2019 OVID Syrah. Photo Courtesy: OVID Napa Valley.

Lastly, there is Loc. Cit., a wine only made in particular vintages from a particular block of Cabernet Sauvignon vines, a portion of OVID’s original planting. So far, Loc. Cit. has only been made in 2017, 2013 and 2010.

OVID winery Loc. Cit wine.
Loc. Cit. Photo Courtesy: OVID Napa Valley.

OVID Napa Valley also makes an Experiment Red and Experiment White every year. The 2020 Experiment Red is made from 98.15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1.85% Merlot, the grapes sourced from a neighboring vineyard.

The 2021 Experiment White is made from a majority of Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier and Vermentino, with smaller additions of Semillon, Albarino, Roussanne and Picpoul Blanc, the grapes from growers across California.

The History of OVID Napa Valley 

The winery is named for the Roman poet OVID (Publius Ovidius Naso), who lived from 43 BC until 17 AD, whose most famous work is “Metamorphoses,” a retelling of Greek myths that celebrates the themes of transformation and change.

OVID winery cellar room.
Cellar room. Photo Courtesy: OVID Napa Valley.

The site was planted to Bordeaux varieties in 2000 on rocky red, volcanic Pritchard Hill and is organically certified. The 15-acre vineyard is divided into 1-acre blocks that each possess a unique combination of rootstock and clone.

Each label includes this quotation from Metamorphoses chosen to represent what the winery hopes to achieve with the wine.

Partimque Figuras Rettulit Antiquas, Partim Nova Monstra Creavit

Translated to: Partly we recovered the Olde, Familiar things, partly we created something Wonderous and New.

Final Thoughts

A tasting at OVID Napa Valley is among the great wine experiences of the world. This is a serious place with serious wines that adheres strongly to a spirit of experimentation and continual learning. Plan on spending an hour and a half to two hours to taste, with the winding drive up from the valley floor taking a good 20 to 30 minutes depending on weather.

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