Cabernet Season, which runs from mid-fall to spring, is a gorgeous time to visit the Napa Valley. Crowds have diminished and the bustle of harvest is behind us. The summer heat is finally over – there’s a welcome chill in the air. In caves and cellars all over the valley, new vintages are aging. Winemakers can finally relax – they’re more inclined to hang out in tasting rooms and can interact more leisurely with visitors. And, most important of all: Winter is when these iconic, full-bodied varietals first become available for tasting and purchase. There are countless reasons to visit the Napa Valley during Cab season, and here are just a few of them.
Taste cabs, of course. Among the many valley wineries that make Cabernet Sauvignon, there are some that have become rock stars for the varietal. Book a tasting at Louis M. Martini Winery, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Corison Winery, Spring Mountain Vineyard, Cliff Lede Vineyards, Silver Oak Cellars, Duckhorn Vineyards, Chateau Montelena Winery, Caymus Vineyards, or HALL Wines.
Enjoy the colors. During the high season, traffic can get pretty congested on the two roads that connect the towns from Napa to Calistoga – Highway 29 and the Silverado Trail. But at this slower time of year, you can enjoy the ride. Late fall is a perfect time to see the valley’s fall colors, with vineyard leaves turning gold, russet, and coral – particularly at the northern end of the valley. Grab a picnic and find a spot with a view, or just pull over for a spectacular photo opp.
Book a table. Napa Valley is a world-renowned food capital with two Michelin three-starred venues: The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena and The French Laundry in Yountville. At these and other remarkable dining spots, it’s much easier to snag a reservation and a great table during Cab season. And many local restaurants participate in Napa Valley Restaurant Week that runs January 21-28 in 2018.
Take in a show (or exhibition). Many arts grant funders prefer to support programming from November/December through the Arts in April event, so there’s an abundance of great performances and exhibitions to enjoy. A world-premiere exhibit about Julia Child will be coming in November to the Napa Valley Museum in Yountville. And from November 8 to 12, the Napa Valley Film Festival takes over the whole valley with exclusive independent film screenings, winemaker dinners, film industry expert panels, and celebrity events. Other local performing arts venues include the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at the Lincoln Theater; the Uptown Theater; the Blue Note jazz club; and the historic Cameo Cinema.
Cuddle up by a fire. This one needs no explanation. Many valley hotels, resorts, and B&Bs offer rooms with private fireplaces, and there’s no better place to end your day – or spend the day itself – than by the hearth with your main squeeze or a good book. Check out Auberge du Soleil, Meadowood, La Residence, the Inn on First, Milliken Creek Inn and Spa, or the Harvest Inn. Many hotels and resorts offer Cabernet season packages with special packages and incentives.
Get a great deal. Every Cabernet season, St. Helena’s Chamber of Commerce sells the Little Book of Big Experiences – 25 exclusive offers from November through March. And Calistoga features its Winter in the Wineries Passport, a ticket to tasting and touring at 15 of the Napa Valley's most eclectic wineries and friendliest tasting rooms from December to February.