Spring is arguably the most beautiful time of year in the Napa Valley. With the buds breaking on the vines, wildflowers blooming along the roadways, and winery gardens coming in full force, it’s a fantastic time to get out and find those epic Instagram spots. Here are some local favorites from our team of Napa Valley insiders:
As you drive along Highway 29 in Oakville you will see the Nickel & Nickel's beautiful tulips set against their white picket fence. It's a welcome sight every spring in the valley.
In the spring the flowers and cover crops (what grows between the vineyard rows to keep the soil rich) are in full bloom. If you're lucky, on a visit to Cliff Lede Vineyards you can spot sheep grazing through the vineyards as a sustainable farming practice to clean things up before the growing season.
Early spring means time for bud break – when the new green growth appears on the vines. This is the first stage of the vine cycle that leads to grapes every fall.
A springtime drive through the Carneros region at the south end of Napa Valley, just after bud break in the spring, is a photographer's dream. The rolling hills perfectly highlight the rows of new buds in the vineyards against a backdrop of green.
Traveling east on Rutherford Road, there is a large tulip patch on the right side of the road by the river stream. Please be a respectful Instagrammer and do not cut or trample the tulips.
Also along Rutherford Road, be sure to visit Frog's Leap Winery during the spring months. The fruit trees lining the long driveway are bursting with bright pink blossoms, and wildflowers dot the vineyards.
If you're looking for photo ops while getting your steps in, Westwood Hills Park and Alston Park are a must. Westwood Hills blooms after the winter rains, and if you go first thing in the morning or right before dawn, the light will be perfect for a good Instagram shot. Alston Park is an easier walk, you might not even break a sweat, but you get a view of the town and plenty of friendly dogs to borrow for a playful picture.
And, of course, miles and miles of mustard flowers, as far as the eye can see. From February through March, the valley comes alive in a bright carpet of mustard flowers – it's truly spectacular! Learn more Mustard Season in Napa Valley and find a map of the usual photo opportunities.
Want to maximize those likes? Check out these tips from local Napa Valley photographer and creative director Emma K. Morris on getting the perfect shot with your smartphone:
- Lighting is everything. The very best time to shoot, known as “magic hour,” is the hour before sunset. (The Grape Crusher is ideal for this to capture the brilliant sky behind the statue.)
- Go natural. Natural light makes every shot more attractive — especially food and wine. Set up near a window and shoot in the opposite direction of light source to avoid backlight.
- Use props. Choose complimentary objects to foster storytelling. Shooting at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone? Stop by the bakery first, then snap a shot of coffee in hand with the building in the background.
- Opt for savvy apps over filters. Apps like Snapseed and Afterlight offer tools that are aesthetically preferable to heavy filters.
- Tell a story. The most compelling photos capture an emotion and tell a story. Welcome the fog, don’t shy away from rain, and embrace authenticity.
Follow Emma’s everyday adventures: Instagram @emmakmorris.