Sitting at an outdoor café table in St. Helena or Yountville watching the passers-by, it’s a cinch to identify the tourists. The women are often dressed to the nines, tottering by on tiny heels or sky-high platforms. They clearly planned their wine-country vacation with the same fashion fervor as they might have for a trip to Paris.
Give yourselves a break. While the Napa Valley is known for its casual elegance, the emphasis should be on exactly that: Casual. And comfortable. Here are a few tips on how to pack perfectly for your visit to the wine country.
These shoes are made for walking. Whether you're strolling the downtown streets of Napa or making a valley-wide circuit of wineries, you’re going to be on your feet. A lot. Pack shoes that you can still be friends with at the end of a long, active day.
Layer it up. Northern California is famous for its fickle weather. Around here, it’s often foggy and cool in the mornings, hot in the afternoons, and cool again in the evenings. Local women tend to wear lots of linen or dressy denim, switching to knits or a print sundress for evening. And always bring a wrap for dinner, in case you’re eating al fresco.
No ties allowed. Men, unless you’re attending a wedding, there is no venue or location where you’ll be wearing a tie or even a sport coat. Even at the fanciest restaurants, a nice shirt and pair of slacks or jeans will get you in the door.
Suit yourself. If your hotel has a pool, don’t forget to bring a swimsuit, cover-up, flip-flops, and sunscreen.
Pack your own shade. A great hat (preferably crushable) will keep you cool and headache-free, even if you’re sitting in the sun for several hours.
Phone charger for the car. No explanation needed.
Extra bag or wine roll-up. Just in case you decide to take some home.
Reusable water bottle. Between the wine-tasting, the sun, and the extensive walking, you’ll want to stay hydrated.
And, should you arrive in the Napa Valley and find you forgot to pack something – or if you just want a little wine-country elegance to take home – there are plenty of great shops and boutiques to choose from. In Napa, try The Mustard Seed, Helen Lyall, or Cake Plate Fashion Boutique. In Yountville, there’s I-elle and Tay and Grace. In St. Helena, check out Pearl Wonderful Clothing, Flats Napa Valley, Reeds, and Cricket.