Your Year-Round Guide To Napa
People always ask me, “What is the best time of the year to visit Napa?”. My answer is easy: It’s YEAR ROUND! The wineries are open year round and weather is pretty mild, therefore there really isn’t a bad time to visit Napa wine country.
However, the type of experience and scenery will vary by season, so I’ve listed below some of the activities and weather you can expect in wine country based on the time of year. Time to start planning!
Spring starts as early as February in Napa when the Mustard plants start growing throughout the vineyards. Its like an explosion of yellow flowers have taken over wine country and it is truly breathtaking. Highs will range from mid-60’s to mid-70’s. Be prepared to wear layers at night (sweaters and light coats) because the temperatures will drop pretty low and expect warm temperatures during the day, especially if the sun is out! Dresses are more than acceptable this time of year.
February: Month of love and romance in honor of Valentines day! Perfect for couples looking for a fun and relaxing getaway full of wine, food, and events. Many wineries feature fun pairings, such as the wine and chocolate pairing at Artesa Vineyards.
March: The mustard and wildflowers are still in full bloom in March, so this is a great month to take advantage of the warm weather and relatively low crowds compared to other times of the year.
April: A good month to visit for art lovers, as April is recognized as the “Arts in April” month with many independent creative events at galleries, museums, and wineries. You can find a lot of interesting art at many of the wineries year-round, including Hess and Mumm. Great time of year to pack a picnic and eat one of the BYO-food wineries, such as V. Sattui.
The vines are typically at their peak with heavy vegetation which makes Napa and Sonoma very scenic this time of year. Expect the temperatures to be hot: On average it reaches mid-70’s to mid-80’s, but some days in parts of the region it can reach up to 100 degrees fahrenheit. Great time of the year to stay at a place with a pool so you can hop in when you’re not wine tasting.
May: To kick off Summer every year on Memorial Day weekend, Napa holds their biggest music festival of the year called BottleRock. They feature some big names (Bruno Mars, Stevie Wonder, Snoop Dogg, etc) and the food and wine scene is top notch.
June: One of the busier months of the year, so make sure to schedule appointments for your tastings. Expect the sun to be shining bright. You may even want to consider escaping to a cooler wine cave to escape the heat. Some good wine caves can be found at Del Dotto or Darioush winery.
July: The air is warm, the sun and shining, and the vineyards will be thriving. 4th of July is a busy weekend with people on holiday and is a good excuse to escape to the vines and spend some extra time exploring the area.
August: It will be hot so you may want to consider booking a hotel room at Carneros Resort & Spa so you can hang out by the pool and sip on some wine.
This time of year is considered harvest season, which tends to bring in crowds that want to see the grapes in full production. The foliage begins changing colors in mid-October and early November, which will make for plenty of picture-worthy moments. Also a good time to catch a winery tour if you’re interested in seeing winemaking facilities during their busiest time of the year. Temperature can vary quite a bit, from mid 60’s to high-70’s.
September: Harvest season is at its peak time as wineries are up early picking grapes off the vines. If you truly want to experience the winemaking process, visit this month. Make sure to book your stay months in advance.
October: Harvest is typically wrapping up and the vines are beginning to change to their vibrant colors before their winter hibernation. Weather is warm and the sights are beautiful.
November: Napa Valley Film festival at the beginning of the month tends to bring in some crowds, and is a great event for film, food, and wine lovers. The holiday season officially kicks off right after Thanksgiving, with tree lighting ceremonies in downtown Napa.
The vines are mostly bare and crowds are low which makes its a great time to visit and stay at some of the nicer hotels that can be listed for double, or even triple, the cost in the peak summer and fall months. Temperatures can range from mid-50s to low-60’s. There may be a few rainy days so pack an umbrella. Most wineries celebrate the holidays with festive decorations beginning right after Thanksgiving. One of my favorites this time is Rams Gate (decorations are always on point).
December: Many wineries hold festive events, decorate with trees & ornaments, dress up the vineyards with lights, invite carolers to sing, and set out cookies and treats. Also a good time to purchase some extra wine to give as gifts to your family and friends. Robert Mondavi has great Christmas decor, events, and carolers this time of the year.
January: Look out for some killer hotel deals. Also, plan to go to some of the more popular wineries this time of year as it will feel like a much more private experience. Mornings tend to be foggy, which makes for some really cool and unique photos in the vines.