So you're planning your trip to the Napa Valley? How exciting! This is one of the most beautiful times to visit. Anytime between April and November, you are in for a real treat as bud break begins and the magical development of the amazing grapes that we grow here in th valley!
If you've been before, then you know that you need to plan ahead!
If you've not been here before - trust me - you NEED to plan ahead.
Especially if you are visiting the Napa Valley in which most of the more unique experiences and some of the best smaller boutique wineries require reservations. So here is my best set of suggestions when you are planning your trip to the Napa Valley:
Do your research. Understand that kinds of wines that you like already and then visit some of those wineries if they are not too commercially driven. But even then, the commercially driven wineries do have their own appeal
Understand the layout of the Valley. Discover the regions/appellations that appeal to you. Talk to your wine retailer to get some names of wineries yet to be discovered by you and your group so you can have some. Also know that the distances listed on maps are deceiving, especially if you are going into the mountains at all. Get a grasp timing between your appointments so you are not rushing
Book your hotel early! As the valley starts to get busier, it becomes more difficult to get the right lodging accommodations. Also check out Airbnb and VRBO for good options.
Hire a driver! Even though having transportation may seem cumbersome and expensive, it is MUCH cheaper to have a driver than it is to have a DUI! There are many options for wine tasting transportation services like ours where we drive your car, to limo and group tours.
Eat Eat Eat! OK, so that might be overkill, but you get the point. Make sure that you eat a good breakfast so that you have foundation in your belly. Food management is a critical component to a successful day of wine tasting. This means, bring snacks, bring water and eat lunch. Protein is also a great way to counter balance the alcohol, so protein bars and different deli meats are all good options.
Take your time and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you! Walk the property and explore the area. Check out the vineyards (but don’t be a jerk and take grapes off the vines unless the winery gives them to you – that’s stealing otherwise!) This is one of the most beautiful regions in the world. Take advantage of it. Soak it up!
Don’t get too drunk that you get turned away. It’s easy to get drunk beyond that what you think you are. This is a key point to enjoying your day. Tasting rooms will turn you away if you appear to be over-intoxicated and let’s be honest – no one appreciates drunk people, especially the sober tasting room staff! Monitor your drinking
It’s OK to spit! If you don’t like the wine, or you are feeling a bit tipsy, take a taste and spit it out. The wineries don’t get offended, nor do they expect you to like every single wine they produce.
Try wines/varietals that you may not normally want to drink. What? You don’t like Merlot? Really? How do you REALLY know? It’s always a good practice to try wines that you think you may not like – because many times you can be surprised that you like that specific wineries varietal/vintage. Wine Making is chemistry and each winemaker applies their own scientific practice to wine making.
Tip your tasting and driving staff! Just like going to a fine dining experience, the people who work in the tasting rooms are often incredibly appreciative of a tip, especially if they spend a dedicated amount of time with you during your visit. Just think of it in lines of someone dedicating their time to you and your group, educating you about their wines and developing a relationship with you. This is all part of the memory that you have when you open that bottle of wine and think back on your experience. I promise, 99% of the time, the person pouring wine and engaging with you will be a significant part of that experience!