Looking to plan your perfect Napa getaway but don’t know where to start? It can be a bit overwhelming and there are so many options to choose from.
Guess what, it doesn’t need to be overwhelming! I am hoping I can help get you started with planning your perfect trip to the region! Let me know what you think of this post as I am planning to write more on Napa! Would love to get more suggestions on what you want to know more about!
Okay, so where do we start? We will start with lodging and transportation to get a base for the trip.
SO MANY PEOPLE IMMEDIATELY LOOK FOR AIRBNB’s and I hate to be the Debby downer here, but Napa has some (let's call them unusual rules) and Airbnb’s aren’t in abundance in the area (Napa has very strict hospitality laws). You will find many hotels to choose from in the area, a couple of my favorites are Vista Collina and River Terrace Inn.
Vista Colina: If you are traveling with a group or even kids this place is great! They have a big pool area and a place called the village where you can continue to taste wines after the wineries are closed. They also have cooking classes, which is a super fun activity outside of wine tasting (obviously wine is included in that as well)!
River Terrace Inn: Cute, chic, and has a boutique vibe with great service! There restaurant (Alba) is one of my favorite spots to eat breakfast in Napa as well.
Unless you have a DD, transportation can be tricky. I do recommend renting a car from either the Oakland or San Francisco Airport if you are coming in from out of town. For a day of wine tasting my ABSOLUTE favorite transportation company is Pure Luxury Transportation. They have a very large fleet to choose from (and can even do airport transportation ). If you have a smaller group or are just with one other person they have some great SUVs and if you are a larger groups their sprinters and buses are awesome! And of course, the drivers are super friendly and professional.
Planning Your Itinerary:
I highly recommend a minimum 2 days of tasting if this is your first time to the region. Many people will try to fit 3 or more tastings in one day and I do not recommend this unless you plan on spitting the wine (WHY ON EARTH WOULD I SPIT THE WINE? – ha. I get that. But it is okay to spit some of the wines if you would like to make it to more than 2 wineries in a day. Spitting still allows you to taste the wines and maybe only consume the ones you LOVE).
So, during my first few trips to Napa I was trying to fit 3 or 4 wineries in the day and I couldn’t tell you if I really liked any of the wine after the second winery. Usually the wines I bought from the 3rd and 4th wineries were expensive and not that great, thanks to my AMAZING drunk taste buds! If you want to try to get three wineries into the day, I recommend starting first thing in the morning. Make your first appointment at 10:00am, second at 12:30, grab a quick sandwich in between (I will list my favorites below), and then plan your last tasting at 3:00pm. If you are doing 2 tastings in a day, you will have more time for tours and learning more about the history of the properties and Napa. And there are so many great tour options (I’ll list some of my favorites below).
Now, the next question I get often…..WHY ARE TASTINGS SO EXPENSIVE? There are a few reasons for this. First reason, they need to pay the staff that are providing you with the tasting experience, tour and answering all of your questions. Second reason, Napa is just an expensive place to own land, farm, and build. And the third reason….many places will set the very expensive tasting fees because they want serious people in there. What do I mean by serious? People that are looking to buy wine. So keep that in mind when you go to Napa, many places are happy to give you a tasting experience but they still need to make their businesses run, and they do that by selling wine. If you are looking to buy wine, tell them that up front when you are making the appointment and they will help you pick the right tasting experience.
Book reservations? YES! I would highly recommend booking your reservations weeks in advance. If you are going to 2 wineries in a day you should definitely plan to book ahead and plan 2-2.5 hours in between each place. If you book a tour/tasting it can take upwards of 2-2.5 hours and then an additional 30 min to get to your next location depending on where in the valley you are (so make sure you consider your tastings each day by the location because the valley spreads pretty far). If you try to do 3 in one day, I recommend booking two appointments and trying to stop in to the third somewhere that accepts walk in tastings.
Hall Wines: They can get busy over the weekend so I recommend booking their tour experience as it was one of the first I did in the region and I’ve brought so many people back since!
Pine Ridge Winery: They do a tour and cave tasting (with a food pairing) that is amazing!
Wineries that have some more affordable options:
Titus Winery: One of my favorites to recommend to people and most people have ended up joining their wine club!
Quick lunch spots:
Yountville Deli: grab a quick sandwich
Gotts Roadside - St. Helena: This is close to Hall if you go there. They can get pretty busy but you can order online ahead and save yourself a ton of time.
Check out my other blog posts in Napa!