Many people think of Fall as an ideal
time to visit Napa Valley or other wine regions - when grapes are being harvested
and wines are happily fermenting in wineries' cellars. While it's true that Fall is a
particularly exciting time of year in the Valley, each season boasts its own unique charm.
If you're planning a trip to Napa, here are our tips for what to expect during each season and
which months are best:
Visiting Napa Valley in
Winter is a quiet season in Napa, which makes it
incredibly easy to make tasting or dinner reservations. Although the vines themselves are
dormant, the rows in between the vines are full of greenery and wildflowers because
Winter is when Napa gets almost all its annual rainfall. If you don't want to get wet, avoid
December and January when rain is heaviest.
Many events are scheduled during this time, such as the Napa Valley Mustard Festival in February,
in order to bring in more visitors.
Pros: Vineyards lush with wildflowers. Fewer crowds
and fun events.
Cons: Can be very rainy and chilly,
especially in December/January.
Napa Valley in Spring
Spring is when Winter's heavy rains have finally tapered off, with
just a few inches expected in April and May generally totally dry. Temperatures around Napa Valley
are also starting to go up, without hitting the 100 degree plus spikes of Summer, making it
the most comfortable season weather-wise.
After going dormant in November, this is when vines bud and go into flower. While you won't get the
full foliage or recognizable grapes of Summer and Fall, this is a crucial time for
determining that year's grape quality.
Pros: Mild weather. See the vines bud and flower. Not too
Cons: Don't expect to see anything
yet that looks like a grape.
Visiting Napa Valley in
By Summer time, sun has arrived in full force! During Summer,
Napa Valley truly looks like a postcard with bright blue skies and rich sunshine over rolling
hills. Vines by now are full of leaves as well as grape bunches, so you'll enjoy
breathtaking vistas throughout your trip and will come home with great pictures.
That sunshine and beauty, however, also start to draw in the bigger crowds. You'll deal
with more traffic and lines at the tasting bars. Also, some days can be extremely hot, with
afternoon heat spikes that can be over 100 degrees.
Pros: Beautiful, sunny days. Vines in full foliage and
heavy with grapes.
Cons: Can be hot hot hot! Crowds
start to get thick.
Visiting Napa Valley in Fall
Fall in Napa Valley is all about Harvest. There's lots to see -
from watching crews cutting down bunches in the vineyards to crushing and pressing at the
cellar. Fall is also unfortunately all about crowds. Expect to have to elbow for
room at the tasting bar and don't expect a lot of attention from your pourer. Driving behind slow
grape trucks might also drive you a bit crazy.
Crowds do thin out in November once all the grapes are picked. There might be some
drizzly rain but the foliage change on the vines is glorious.
Pros: The excitement of Harvest in Sept/Oct. Amazing
foliage colors in Nov.
Cons: Heaviest crowds and
traffic, including numbingly slow grape trucks.
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