For scenic drives, relaxing spa treatments, fantastic festivals, and nearly endless opportunities to sample fine wines, head to Napa Valley. This gorgeous area is known as California’s premier wine-growing region. Many of the wineries in this region offer plenty of activities and tastings year-round. When planning your getaway to Napa Valley, it’s advantageous to consider the season, especially since inclement weather can put a damper on some outdoor activities. While browsing through Napa Valley vacation rentals, take a look at the availability of events and activities during each season. That way, you can easily plan ahead to enjoy everything Napa Valley has to offer.

wine vineyard field
Source: Flickr/Malcolm Carlaw

Visiting Napa Valley in Summer

Summer brings warm sun-filled days to the vineyards of Napa, and also many locals enjoying the area’s beauty and a busy calendar of events. Be ready for some traffic congestion in the region in June and July, especially on the weekends. Just a sampling of the summer Napa events include the Napa County Fair in early July with a fabulous fireworks display; Festival Napa Valley in late July, which celebrates the area’s art, music, culture, and cuisine; and Music in the Vineyards in August, with many wineries hosting chamber music and meals outdoors under the warm summer sun. Add some pampering to your vacation with a stop at Meadowood Napa Valley for a massage, facial, or full-body treatment, or head to Lake Berryessa for water sports, swimming, or a romantic picnic for two. The weather in Napa Valley in the summer is comfortably warm with daily highs averaging in the low 80s, but when considering what to pack, take into consideration that the evening can be chilly so be sure to bring a sweater or two.

Visiting Napa Valley in Fall

For the full grape-harvesting and wine-making Napa Valley experience, visit during the grape harvest, which runs from August to November. Warm temperatures in the autumn months, with daytime highs between 65 and 80, and overnight lows dipping into the 40s, make it easy and comfortable to explore the region out of doors. If you want a chance to help out at the vineyards by picking or smashing grapes, wineries typically offer these types of experiences during the months of September and October when the harvest is at its peak. If that type of activity doesn’t appeal to you, consider booking a vacation rental in November, when the crowds drop a bit, but the beautiful autumn scenery is still going strong, and temperatures are still comfortable enough to spend your days outdoors. For an exceptional view, be sure to include Stone Hill Vineyard as part of your Napa Valley trip. Located high up on Spring Mountain, Stone Hill requires 24-hour notice for all tours and tastings, but the scenic drive up the mountain plus fabulous wines and delicious tidbits in their tasting room with a view make it well worth the effort of calling ahead. Another way to enjoy that fabulous scenery is on horseback. Triple Creek Horse Outfit offers guided trail rides in Jack London State Historic Park, or check out Wine Country Trail Rides in Healdsburg for great mountain vistas.

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Visiting Napa Valley in Winter

Beat the crowds and save some money with a Napa Valley trip during the winter months. From December to February, prices in the region drop while wineries continue to host fun and informative programs. Winter weather is a little chilly, with daytime highs bottoming out in the 40s, but with a cozy jacket, outside tours are still comfortable, and many programs are indoors, some with a warm fireplace to drive away the chill. Expect wineries to be closed on Christmas and New Years Day, but otherwise most host entertaining events throughout the holiday season, which starts with the Napa Tree Lighting Ceremony in late November or early December. If you have a family, Thanksgiving through New Years is the perfect time to enjoy the sights and sounds of Napa. Ride through downtown in a trolley covered with Christmas lights, or opt for a cozy ride in a horse-drawn carriage. Napa Valley Outlets is the perfect place to do some holiday shopping, with nearly 50 stores on site, or head into downtown Napa for unique shopping opportunities, including specialty housewares at The Store at CIA Copia, gourmet treats at Oxbow Public Market, and Napa souvenirs at the Napa Valley Welcome Center or the Napa General Store. January boasts the Napa Truffle Festival with information on growing truffles, truffle and wine feasts at area eateries, and plenty of opportunities to buy fresh black truffles from local growers.

Visit Napa Valley in Spring

Spring-like weather, with temperatures moving back up into the 80s, starts in February in Napa Valley, making that month a great time to enjoy the first spring flowers along with the affordable winter-time pricing that is still in effect at many area attractions. March brings fields full of fresh blooming lavender to the region, and new growth in the vineyards. Tour the artistic gardens at The Hess Collection Winery, and then tour the winery’s art collection in its gallery on Mt. Veeder. Other wineries with exceptional gardens include Chateau Montelena, Raymond Vineyards, and Far Niente. Sign up with Beau Wine Tours to visit a personalized selection of wineries for tours and tastings without the need to worry about who’s going to drive. For a romantic treat, reserve a hot air balloon ride and brunch with Balloons Above the Valley. This four-hour experience includes pastries and coffee, a one-hour hot air balloon ride, and then a fabulous brunch on the patio at C Casa. Other companies, including Napa Valley Aloft Balloon Rides, Calistoga Balloons, and Above The West Hot Air Ballooning also offer hot air balloon experiences throughout the region.

Best Time to Visit Napa Valley?

Ultimately the best time to visit Napa Valley is during the fall harvest season from early September to late November. In spite the busy-ness of this season, autumn in Napa Valley offers the most activities plus gorgeous scenery around every curve. For the best leaf show, plan your trip for mid-October through mid-November and be sure to take the aerial tram ride at Sterling Vineyards for an expansive view of the surrounding countryside in all its glory. If you really hope to avoid the crowds, a spring visit from March to May is another great choice. Spring in Napa Valley offers beautiful scenery, including the scent of grape blossoms and the lovely landscaped flower gardens at many area wineries. Temperate spring temperatures offer great weather for hiking, and several popular festivals, including Flavor! Napa Valley takes place this time of year. If you’re wondering what to pack, regardless of when you plan your Napa Valley vacation, be sure to include a jacket for cool evenings and comfortable shoes for exploring.

 
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