Tips for Visiting Napa Valley, CA

Napa is a place you have to experience once in your life. It’s even fun for people who are not wine-o’s, as the area is crazy beautiful! Here’s a few of simple pieces of advice for a super fun trip to Napa Valley.
  • Visit some of the small, family vineyards that you’ve never heard of. The most beautiful one I went to was just on the way somewhere else, and I think they had a deal for buy one/get one tastings, so we figured why not? It was called St. Clement and it was so beautiful. They had chairs and tables overlooking the estate and it was the definition of charming. Plus, smaller vineyards seemed to give heavier pours.
  • Make dinner reservations ahead of time! A ton of people visit Napa and there aren’t THAT many restaurants. If you wait until the day of, it will be difficult to get in.
  • If you are coming from San Francisco, I highly suggest taking a winery bus tour from the city. It will pick you up in San Francisco and is supposed to take you back at the end of the day, but you can request to have them leave you in Napa/drop you off at your hotel on the way back! This way, you do not have to drive and deal with a DD or take the ferry and waste lots of time. Our bus tour included the tasting fees at wineries,  stopped for lunch in between being our designated driver AND you are allowed to drink on the bus! It only ran us $130 per person.
  • Talk to people working at the vineyard and ask them questions. They are really passionate about the wine and if you engage with them and show your interest, the bottles will keep flowing. Trust me.
  • Use caution when it comes signing up for wine clubs. Really read what you’re signing! Every winery offers a wine club that will try to get you to join. They will usually offer something free to join and it consists of them sending you a delivery of a few bottles of wine every couple months. The issue (besides getting too drunk and signing up when you shouldn’t) is a lot of them will have a minimum amount of the time you have to keep it before canceling. Just be aware!
  • If you are flying with a carryon after your trip, be sure not to buy more wine than you can drink in the trip or plan on paying for shipping. It’s easy to get excited and overbuy and you don’t want to end up wasting any!
  • Pick out a bottle of wine for dinner and bring it with you. Most restaurants in Napa allow you to bring your own bottle of wine. You have to pay a corkage fee, which may be expensive (think ours was ~#25) but is cheaper than buying there!
  • Uber and Lyft exist there! They are definitely not as accessible as they are in a city, but it is possible to get around that way. Just keep an eye on the app and know you may have a little wait for one.
  • Pick a vineyard tour at a one or two, but not at all of them. Tours are awesome because you really get to learn about the process of winemaking and see how everything works on the vineyard. However, they do start to get repetitive after a couple and they are longer than normal tastings, giving you less time to experience more.
  • The off season is in the winter so it tends to be a bit cheaper to travel there, while the weather is still really nice. While I went in August, I was told multiple times that November and December would be a great time to go. Next time!
  • Go to a champagne vineyard. I didn’t even know these existed until I got there! It is a cool way to mix it up.
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