Summer is finally here, which means it’s obviously time to plan your autumn trip to Napa Valley. August through October is considered the ideal time to visit Napa, as it is harvest season, and visitors can observe and participate in the picking and crushing of grapes. As you plan your fall visit to wine country, consider the following Do’s and the following Don’ts.
Do have a plan. There are more than 400 wineries in Napa Valley. Some are appointment only, some have minimum purchase amounts, some are small and family-owned, and some are sprawling and scenic. While this abundance allows for a diversity of experience, it can also make choosing a winery an overwhelming task. Make sure to do your research beforehand and arrive with a shortlist of wineries you wish to visit.
Don’t rent a hotel that’s too far away from the action. The internet is flooded with advertisements for cheap hotels in and around the Napa Valley area. It’s tempting to jump on these deals, but first you need to find out where the hotel is located in relation to the area you wish to spend most of your time. Often these “great deals” are for hotels that are significant distances away from the hub of wineries and restaurants.
Do hire a chauffeur or arrange for alternative transportation. The very last thing you want to be concerned with in Napa is which of your friends will be the designated driver. Plan on using a using a car service, a ridesharing app, or consider utilizing Napa Valley’s Wine Train or Wine Trolley services.
Don’t just stick to the most popular spots. There are hundreds of wineries to pick from in Napa, and most people choose from the same 10. There is a lot to be gained by going off the beaten path and exploring wineries that perhaps no one you know has visited yet. Pursue a more intimate experience by seeking out some of the smaller, family-owned wineries.
Do follow the suggested tasting order. The men and women who work at these wineries know what they’re talking about and have a plan for you. They have suggested the wines be tasted in a specific order so that you can have a heightened tasting experience. If you love a heavy red, but your instructor begins with a light white, be patient and put your faith in his or her judgment. They are the experts.
Don’t get drunk unless it’s intentional. Wine tasting is a great way to get accidentally drunk. You’re drinking in sips, you’re tasting dozens of different wines, and you’re not taking inventory of the amount you’re drinking. It makes perfect sense that you would find yourself suddenly and inexplicably horizontal on the winery floor. Do not neglect hydration. You should be drinking as much water as you are wine. If you don’t want to chance it, consider spitting your wine. This experience is, after all, about the taste, not the ingestion.
Do make time to appreciate Napa’s natural beauty and allot time for an outdoor activity. Hike along Dunn Ranches and enjoy a bird’s eye view of Calistoga and St. Helena, go kayaking or fishing at Lake Hennessey, or take a bike tour on one of Napa’s eight local biking routes.
Don’t forget to explore Napa’s downtown area. Boasting with tasting bars, restaurants, marketplaces, theaters, and art exhibits, this charming neighborhood is the perfect haven for when you grow fatigued of wine and direct sunlight