Everything You Need To Know About Winetasting In Napa Valley
Napa Valley is known for an array of wines, but cabernet grows particularly well in the valleys terroir.
What to expect, where to go, and how to get around on your next visit to Californias wine capital
The Napa Valley is an epicurean fantasy come to life. Spanning towns such as Napa, Rutherford, Yountville, St. Helena, and Calistoga, the 30-mile stretch of fertile soil is home to scores of luxurious accommodations, restaurants with more than two-dozen Michelin stars among them, and acres upon acres of vineyards that line the landscape like corduroy.
There are more than 400 wineries across Napa Valley. Some are over the top, some are understated. Some are cavernous, others are the size of a tiny garage. Vibe, style, and approach at each of these wineries differ completely. Where you choose to spend your visit can dictate your Napa experience. Heres what you need to know.
What To Wear In Napa Valley
I mentioned earlier that every vineyard is different. As a result, the recommended attire varies a bit with each vineyard, too. As a general rule of thumb, wear what youd wear to a country club or a nice dinner out. For guys, this means dress pants and shoes, a collared shirt, and an optional jacket. For gals, this could be a sundress, a skirt and top, dress pants, etc. No need for a suit or ballgown, but also Id avoid being too casual. Even if they wont kick you off the premises or refuse your entry, I guarantee theyll treat you better if you dress up a little bit. Even the finest vineyards dont expect a suit and tie, but bringing a blazer along is probably a good idea.
Sip And Enjoy Napa Wines
With the combination of good climate and fertile soil, Napa Valley is indeed home to some of the best wines in the world. This is the reason why people always go to the region and get a chance to take a sip of these great-tasting wines. Wine tasting is a humbling experience and it has been a favorite activity for tourists and wine lovers alike whenever they go to Napa. The stunning landscapes and views also add to the experience.
If you are planning on going to Napa Valley for wine tasting, make sure to plan ahead and organize your itinerary so that you will not be overwhelmed. Contacting wineries directly and asking how much their wine tastings cost will also help you budget accordingly. Its also recommended to visit only 1 to 3 per day so that you can enjoy the wines better.
There are so many things you can experience in Napa. From wine tastings to winery tours, you will surely have the time of your life.
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How To Get To Napa Valley
Getting to Napa Valley is relatively straightforward but there will be a few steps involved. While most destinations I write about are very conveniently located to an airport, some just arent. Some of the best places weve been – Ilha Grande in Brazil and Cooperstown in New York, for example – require a bit of a drive but are fully worth the time and effort.
If youre not already located in Northern California, youll need to get there. The two best places to look for flights are either Sacramento or anywhere in the bay area, including San Francisco , Oakland , and San Jose . Depending which one you choose, youll wind up anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 hours away from the heart of Napa Valley. From the airport, I highly recommend that you rent a car for the duration of your trip. More on that in the next section, but its the easiest way to get to the valley and the easiest way to get around once youre there. If you choose to rent a car, simply put the directions into your favorite navigation app and hit the road! The landscapes are beautiful and it is a very easy, leisurely drive.
Single Tasting Cost Estimates In Napa
If you dont have much of a budget there are a handful of places where you can taste for about $25pp. That said, if youre in Napa its one of those places where you might as well splurge. This is especially true if you dont have the ability to visit often. Higher end and world renowned locations average $50-$75pp for a tasting. And you can definitely go up from there if youre looking for once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
You figure on average youre visiting 3 wineries per day so lets call it $150pp on the conservative side. Throw in lunch which averages around $15-$25pp along with breakfast and dinner and youre looking at $70-100pp for meals. That doesnt include fine dining. For example an eight course meal with paired wines at French Laundry is upward of $1000 or so per person . So not for the weak of wallet types.
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How To Visit Napa Valley On A Budget
: 03/17/20 | March 17th, 2020
With its verdant hills, acres of vineyards, and temperate climate, Napa Valley in California is one of the worlds premier wine-producing regions.
Located just over an hour from San Francisco, every year over 3 million people flock to this region to bike, hike, swim in a veritable pool of wine, and eat rich, delicious food.
However, Napa is not easy on the wallet. Restaurants, hotels, and winery visits add up quickly. Like a money-sucking feedback loop, visitors expect to spend a lot of money, and prices reflect peoples willingness to open their wallets.
I went seeking an answer to the question I ask of all destinations: Can you travel here on $50 a day?
I found you can, but it takes work. Even if you dont desire to do it bare-bones, there are ways to cut your expenses and still enjoy an affordable visit to Napa Valley.
What Makes Iowa Wine Different
It was unanimous between the 4 Iowa wineries that we virtually toured that farming wine grapes in Iowa and the Midwest is difficult, challenging, and rewarding.
Iowa has a short growing season and that limits the type of grapes as well as the length of growth time on the vine. All of which impacts the flavor of wine.
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More Time To Taste Then Add Some Of These To Your Napa On A Budget Wine Tasting Agenda
William Hill Estate Winery in Napa Valley
William Hill Estate: You want a view of the vineyards? Well its pretty hard to find a better one than at Wm. Hill Estate where the Adirondack chairs are calling your name – bring your wine! A great last stop if you can plan it out that way. Make reservations.
Why I Like It: Oh that view!
Wm. Hill Estate Deal:Two for one tasting with your Priority Wine Pass, save $30.
Whitehall Lane Winery in Napa Valley
Whitehall Lane Winery: No, not a big name but one you should have on your short list if you are visiting Napa on a Budget and looking for a small, family run winery. Whitehall Lane is still family owned and run and offers an alternative to the giant tasting rooms of the corporately owned wineries.
Why I Like It: True family run wineries are becoming scarce as huge corporations buy up the wineries. Whitehall Lane needs your support and their wines are excellent and fairly priced.
Whitehall Lane Winery Deal:Two for one tasting with your Priority Wine Pass, save $25.
V. Sattui Winery, Napa Valley
V. Sattui Winery: Ultra popular winery, V. Sattui is owned by the same person who conceived, built and owns the Napa Castle, Castello di Amrosa. Youll see plenty of similarities and V. Sattui is blessed with a full deli and expansive picnic area for its guests. No outside food allowed but you wont care, the deli is amazing.
V. Sattui Winery Deal: Two for one tasting with your Priority Wine Pass, save $35.
Clos Pegase Winery, Napa Valley
Napa Valley Tasting Room Index 2020
We created the Napa Valley Tasting Fee Index in 2014. Our Wine Country Getaways Website contains useful planning information for those who wish to visit the wine country. Why not give these folks an idea of what it will cost to taste wine in the Napa Valley.
There was once a time when wineries in the Napa Valley did not charge visitors for sampling wine. They were happy to show off their wines, hoping visitors would buy a few bottles. Then the mobs came to the Napa Valley, and the wineries could not afford to give their wine away. Tasting fees became the norm.
For the Index, we are using ten wineries along Highway 29. Each of these wineries welcomes visitors without a reservation or appointment. Most wineries have different levels of tasting choices. For the Index, we are using the basic, or least expensive, tasting that the winery offers to visitors. Here they are as of February 22, 2020.
- Whitehall Lane $25
Many wineries in the Napa Valley have optional wine tasting experiences beyond the basic tasting. Wine and food pairings seem to be a favorite for many visitors. Then there are the tour-and-tasting packages. Some wineries offer a tasting of their Library or Reserve wines. These tasting choices are expensive. Here a few examples.
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Napa Valley Wine Tasting Fee Index 2014
Youre heading to the Napa Valley and wondering how much to figure on tasting room fees for your travel budget. You are not alone. Our readers will often email us asking questions related to tasting room fees. What should I expect in tasting room fees on our vacation? Are the fees the same from winery to winery? Are there any tasting rooms in Napa that do not charge a fee? Where can we get a discount or two-for-one tasting coupons? This got me to thinking how much tasting room fees have increased over the years. There was once a time when no winery in the Napa Valley charged customers to taste their wine. I have no idea how much tasting room fees increase each year. Im sure someone out there has done a reliable study, and that is more likely a survey for industry wine folks. I want something as a gauge for the wine country traveler who visits our Website looking for that information. I decided to devise a quick and easy, but unscientific, Napa Valley Wine Tasting Fee Index, one that I can update a couple of times per year. It will be interesting to do a chart year to year on the increases in these wine-tasting fees. At the very least, the Index will give a ballpark figure when someone asks how much the tasting fees are in the Napa Valley.
Napa Valley Wine Tasting Fee Index
Sequoia Grove $15 for wine tasting
- Alpha Omega $25
- Sequoia Grove $15
- Whitehall Lane $15
Provenance $25 for wine tasting
How To Prepare For Your Napa Valley Wine Tasting Tour
- Eat beforehand. Even when you sip lightly, the alcohol levels can often add up before you know it.
- Avoid coffee and chewing gum. Especially right before wine tasting, as it will affect your palate.
- Bring bottled water. Staying hydrated is criticaldrink as much water as wine.
- Avoid anything that interferes with your sense of smell. No heavy perfumes or shaving lotions. Smokers beware: remember to consider that the smell of smoke could affect the tasting experience for you and others.
- Dress in layers and wear comfy shoes. Temperatures can vary drastically from foggy mornings to sunny afternoons. Take a lightweight jacket alongcaves are kept at a consistent temperature of about 55 to 60 degrees and can feel chilly at any time of year. Shoes should be closed toed for the dusty trips out to the vineyards.
- Bring a cooler. You definitely dont want the wines to cook in your car, which is possible even on a cool day if the sun shines through the windows of a parked vehicle. Make sure to pack a cooler or Styrofoam shipper.
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Artesa Vineyards & Winery Napa Ca
Out of all ten wineries, Artesa offers the very best in terms of Napa scenery. The family-owned winery is set upon the highest hill of the 350-acre estate. A terrace offers beautifully expansive vistas of the surrounding countryside, and on clear days, a view of the San Francisco skyline.
Artesas architecture reflects a series of Spanish Mediterranean themes. Originally named Codorniu Napa, the name was changed to Artesa in 1997, which translates to handcrafted in Catalan. Today Artesa wines are produced from the varietals for which Carneros and Napa Valley are best known: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Tastings are $35, $45, and $55 per person, depending on the exclusivity of the wines served. The views are picturesque, as you absorb and enjoy some truly great wines.
Artesa Vineyards & WineryThe Taittinger family modeled Domaine Carneros after an 18th-century French mansion. Photo courtesy the winery.
Tip #: Make A Reservation
Most of the best wineries to tour in Napa are appointment-only for tastings. Usually a quick phone-call or online RSVP will do the trick. Simply conduct a quick Google search and call ahead to the cellars that interest you. Even those that dont require a wine tasting RSVP still appreciate reservations, particularly with parties of 6 or more.
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The Best Wineries In Napa
There are fantastic wineries spread throughout the entire Napa Valley region! Whether you are taking the classic route on Highway 29 or heading up to hillside destination wineries along the Silverado Trail, you can find great wineries in Napa sprinkled throughout the densely planted valley good wine is ubiquitous in the region!
The best wineries combine delicious, balanced wine with spectacular views. Each individual producer will have their own spin, but as a rule, valley fruit tends to be richer, broader, and juicier and mountain fruit tends to be more savory and elegant.
As far as what to try, Cabernet Sauvignon is the best-known grape from Napa, but you can also find killer examples of Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc, and Merlot.
Below, Ive organized the best wineries in Napa by their best or most interesting qualities!
*Note: At the time of writing, all Napa wineries require reservation due to COVID-19 health & safety measures.
Plan A Delightful Day Of Wine Tasting In Napa Valley 2021
An adventurous day of wine tasting in Napa Valley is best begun at our historic and intimate Napa Valley Inn. Youll start your morning in one of our elegant guest rooms enrobed in Comphy Brand linens. Slip into a fluffy robe for a morning of relaxation, which is best paired with a hot cup of coffee or even a mimosa if you prefer. Next up, our gourmet breakfast. You can ask to have it brought up to your room or enjoyed in our socially-distanced dining room. Either way, our house-made selections from frittata to french toast will be the fuel you want to start off your wine tasting in Napa tour the right way.
Then wed love to help you plan your day of wine tasting in Napa Valley. At the Candlelight Inn, we have all of the insider knowledge youll need to make the most of your wine tasting in Napa experience a success. We even offer some thoughtfully curated Napa Valley wine tasting packages. Heres a list of just a handful of classic spots you wont want to miss:
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Tip #: Engage Your Pourer
The other thing you need to do is engage with the tasting staff. If youre an international traveler, come from across the country, or live in the state of California, winery employees are priceless resources for local intel. They might be able or willing to open special wines, too, if you express a strong interest.
Explore Napa Valley By Train
It might seem cliché to say that the Napa Valley Wine Train is more than the sum of its parts, but it is. Part distinctive Napa Valley fine dining restaurant. Part museum, its made up of exquisitely and faithfully restored vintage early 20th century Pullman cars. Part journey, to some of Californias most celebrated wineries.
With its Honduran mahogany paneling, brass accents, etched glass partitions, and plush armchairs, the Wine Train also evokes the elegant glory days of luxury train travel of the early 1900s. You get to sit back, relax, and savor every delicious bite, every bit of extraordinary scenery, every taste and tour. There are lots of ways to explore Napa Valley. This one is an experience you will never forget.
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Napa Valley Wine Train, 1275 Mckinstry Street, Napa, CA 94559
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