The Napa Valley Wine Tour.
On my recent visit to Napa Valley we were able to see 10 wineries in Napa Valley and one in Paso Robles on the way home. Napa Valley is very different than Paso Robles. One disadvantage is that you can be expected to pay at least $15-$20 as a tasting fee at most wineries. Some wineries offer tours from $19-$125 that also include tastings, visits to the wine cave, or even a castle tour, which are quite unique.
Spending a little time researching before your trip will help you save some money. The good news is that if you really like the wine, most tasting rooms will waive the tasting fee if you spend a certain amount to purchase their wine. However, some wineries require you to join their wine club in order to waive the tasting fee. The wine clubs in Napa Valley can cost at least $100 per shipment and sometimes as much as $600 or more to join. This is in sharp contrast to Paso Robles, where the wine club I joined cost nothing up front and I will only be charged when the wine arrives at my house. Furthermore, I was offered a 30% discount on the four bottles that I purchased just because I joined the wine club.
Before you arrive in Napa, it is beneficial to download an app or obtain some sort of magazine that lists all the wineries in Napa. There are also brochures or apps that offer discounts. Not all wineries require you to make an appointment but many do, and these brochures and apps will list them. I do not believe it is necessary to purchase a pricey guidebook, as brochures and wine guides are free and readily available throughout Napa, at hotels, restaurants, and even the wineries themselves. Some of the free magazines list the wineries under the varietal they are most known for, which can help you focus on specific wineries that sound unique or offer the type of wine that you would like to try. A printable map is available at www.napavalley.com that lists these wineries. If you are in town when it is busy or you have a large group it is advised to call ahead. If you choose and plan wisely, you can visit a good number of wineries and still manage to stay on budget.
I have made a list below of the wineries that we visited on our recent trip to Napa Valley. I have included pictures and a short description of the wines that I recommend at each destination, although, of course, your taste and preference may vary.
Believe it or not, there are plenty of camping options near Napa Valley. This is great because lodging in Napa Valley can cost as much as 300 to 500 dollars per night and some places may cost even more. If you would rather stay in a hotel, I would recommend looking for somewhere outside the city of Napa, like in Fairfield.
Hopefully you can find an awesome friend (in my case, my amazing girlfriend) to be your designated driver. There are transportation options in Napa but they can be expensive.
Finding delicious food in Napa Valley is very easy but finding something within your budget is a little bit of a challenge. For food, I would recommend the deli or barbecue area at V. Sattui or Gott’s Roadside Burgers. You can always pick up something at a local market to bring along to snack as well. Most wineries do not have their own restaurants, as in certain circumstances this violates local winery rules. I would also recommend drinking plenty of water throughout the day as numerous samples can lead to dehydration.
Do not be discouraged by the price of certain items, because if you plan carefully, you can have an awesome trip and save money. Take a look below for a list and some pictures of the wineries that we visited on our recent wine tour of Napa Valley.
Other awesome places to visit in downtown Napa are the Oxbow market and the new Lucero Olive Oil store. Napa Valley is not just the city of Napa, it also includes small towns such as Yountville, Rutherford, St. Helena, and Calistoga. Napa Valley is only about 5 miles wide and 30 miles long but contains over 400 unique wineries.
Our recent trip to Napa was fun, exciting, and a tad expensive, but I came home with over 18 bottles of wine and a ton of new knowledge so I do not regret the experience. With careful planning you can save money in Napa but do not expect to spend less than a weekend of camping.
Also, after visiting Napa Valley we made a stop in Paso Robles and visited one of my favorite wineries: Pear Valley. I discovered Pear Valley back in June at the Wine in the Pines event. I found four wines that I really liked and even joined the wine club, as mentioned earlier.
Camping Fantastic now offers a private adventure club for dedicated members and we will be visiting Paso Robles in the near future for a complete tour. For more details follow us on Facebook.
Maps, Magazines, and Apps to help you navigate Napa Valley:
Winery Finder or Wine Country app (search on Google play or Apple store)
Wineries we visited:
(Wines listed are my favorites although your preference may vary)
2011 Virtu (60% Semillon, 40% Sauvignon Blanc)
Provence (red and white blend)
2010 Reserve Carneros Pinot Noir
2011 Napa Valley Syrah
2012 Malvasia Bianca
Castello di Amorosa
2012 California Rose Wine La Fantasia
2012 Gewurztraminer Anderson Valley
2011 Chardonnay Napa Valley
2011 Late Harvest Gewurztraminer Anderson Valley
2008 Napa Valley Dulce Beso (Sweet Kiss)
Carneros Pinot Meunier, 2011
Reserve Blanc de Blancs
Reserve Carneros Chardonnay, 2011
2008 Napa Valley Cabernet
2010 RC Reserve Syrah (my favorite Syrah of the Napa trip)
Pear Valley (Located in Paso Robles)
2010 Tom’s Oak Chardonnay
2011 Orange Muscat
2009 Cabernet Franc
Gott’s Roadside (St. Helena and Napa)
Burgers and more at affordable prices
V. Sattui winery
Picnic grounds, deli, Bbq on weekends
Buckhorn Grill (Downtown Napa)
Sandwiches, Burgers, and Bbq
Oxbow Public Market (Downtown Napa)
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park
Napa Valley camping
Skyline Wilderness Park
Napa Valley camping
Good Sam Club campgrounds
Lodging in Fairfield:
Wineries I didn’t visit but I want to: