As one of the world’s most famous wine regions, the Napa Valley bustles with visitors in the spring and summer months. But once the harvest pace slows down and exuberant yellow mustard flowers burst into bloom across the region’s rolling hills and green valleys, a more relaxed atmosphere prevails. Tasting rooms take on a more intimate vibe, restaurants cook up hearty winter fare, and hotels offer cozy getaways at discounted prices. Here are a few great ways to plan a winter trip to wine country right now:
Winter deals are a great reason to visit Napa during the winter months. For $60, the Winter in the Wineries Passport includes tastings at 16 of Calistoga’s best wineries. Likewise, St. Helena’s Little Book of Big Experiences passport ($75) offers VIP access to 15 wineries, including elevated wine experiences and curated pairings.
Save the date for Black Friday and Cyber Monday to score incredible deals on winter hotel stays. Set amid vine-covered hills, the Carneros Resort and Spa is taking 30 percent off bookings made now through Dec. 10. Napa’s new Archer Hotel is offering 25 percent off reservations made from Nov. 29–Dec. 2. Luxurious Calistoga Ranch is slashing rates by half for winter stays booked from Nov. 29–Dec. 2, and its sister property, Solage, is cutting rates by 40 percent during the same dates.
Holiday & Winter Happenings
Napa Valley goes all out for the holidays with magical events and family-friendly activities. From Nov. 19–Dec. 27, the Napa Valley Wine Train becomes the Santa Train with games, goodies, and a cast of holiday characters. During Holidays in Yountville, from Nov. 24–Dec. 21, revelers enjoy free carriage rides around town, plus holiday movies and photos with Santa. Downtown Napa gets lit Nov. 27 with a festive Tree Lighting Ceremony, then turns up the twinkle Nov. 30 for the 56th annual Christmas Parade.
St. Helena hosts Jingle All the Way Nov. 29–Dec. 29 at Lyman Park with a winter roller rink, ice igloos, food trucks, music, and—of course—fantastic wine. Calistoga lights up Main Street Dec. 7 for its annual Lighted Tractor Parade, a small-town celebration of bedazzled tractors and antique trucks. Hunting for handmade holiday gifts? The St. Helena Winter Market has you covered on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.
Giving gets the gourmet treatment Dec. 6–21 during The Twelve Days of Christmas fundraiser at The Restaurant at Meadowood, when guest chefs from around the world create delicious collaborations with the resort’s Michelin-starred chef. Judd’s Hill Winery kicks up its heels Dec. 8 at the Hanukkah Hootenanny, featuring music, wine, traditional jelly donuts, and a latke bar.
The Napa Lighted Art Festival, Jan. 11–19, presents an interactive art walk around the city with lighted sculptures on display. Fungi fans flock to the Napa Truffle Festival Jan. 17–20 for seminars on truffle cultivation and mushroom hunting, plus workshops led by Michelin-star chefs on how to buy, store, and cook with truffles.
Eating and Drinking
If you’ve dreamed of dining at Michelin darlings such as The French Laundry, Auberge du Soleil, Bouchon, Kenzo, and La Toque, now is the time to pounce—when there’s less competition for top tables. It’s also a terrific time to branch out during Napa Valley Restaurant Week, held Jan. 26–Feb. 1, when more than 50 restaurants around the county offer prix fixe lunch and dinner deals.
On Fridays from November through April, pick up organic produce, beef, honey, and other edibles at the Long Meadow Ranch winter Farmers Market. For more farm-fresh goodness, head to Clif Family Winery in November and December for pairings of winter wines with chef-curated bruschetta made from ingredients grown on the Clif family ranch. Along with stunning vineyard views, Chappellet Winery’s Pritchard Hill tasting room offers visitors an only-in-winter bonus taste of one of its most prized library Cabernet Sauvignons.