Napa Valley is an incredible place to visit and taste wine. From beginner to the expert and down-to-earth to elegant, you can find just the right experience to suit your style. Here are some insiders’ tips from the Napa Valley Vintners, the region’s 525-member trade association, to ensure you have the most fun and fabulous visit imaginable!
- Learn a little bit about Napa Valley before you get here and discover just what makes it unique in the world of wine.
- Plan your visit using the Napa Valley Vintners’ online Winery Map & Trip Planner. It is a fantastic, searchable resources to help you find just what you are looking for while in the Napa Valley.
- Need ideas? Check out these sample itineraries created with input from Napa Valley locals.
- Book your visit ahead of time. To protect the agricultural nature of Napa Valley and promote sustainable wine tourism, Napa County requires many wineries to be open by appointment only.
- Limit yourself to 3-4 winery visits per day. You’ll have a more pleasurable experience spending more time at fewer wineries. Allow ample travel time between appointments.
- Start with a tour at your first winery to learn a little bit about the winemaking process, then book tasting-only appointments the rest of the day.
- Bring a designated driver or hire a local tour and transportation company. It’s more relaxing, more interesting – and more responsible.
- Eat breakfast and lunch and drink plenty of water. Between winery visits, enjoy some of Napa Valley’s renowned restaurants. You’ll thank us in the morning!
- At the winery, give the tasting room staff some information about yourself and what you like. Is this your first time tasting? Are you a seasoned pro? Do you like white wines better than red? Lighter better than heavier? Sweet better than dry? There are no wrong answers, but you’ll have the chance to taste more of the wines you like if you provide some information about your preferences.
- It’s OK to spit while you taste and to pour out extra wine in your glass – REALLY! It’s how the pros taste and no one will be offended. It will also make your tasting experience more enjoyable. No one expects you to drink every taste of wine that’s offered. It’s even OK to share a tasting with your partner.
- It’s nice to buy wine when you find something you like, or to join the club when you really click with a particular winery, but you are not required to do either. You are also not expected to tip the hospitality staff or educators at a winery (but you should tip your driver or host if you hire a transportation company).
- Consider a visit during Cabernet Season, November through April. The weather is perfect for sipping our rich, flavorful red wines. There are fewer crowds and winery staff will have more time for you.
And, finally – our top recommendation: stay a little longer! One day in Napa Valley is a treat; two or more are heavenly. Visit Napa Valley can help you find the perfect place to stay – sometimes even with short notice. We hope you enjoy your visit and wine tasting experience in the legendary Napa Valley.
Photo Credit: Bob McClenahan