Bay Area Day Trips - Napa Valley

Bay Area has tremendous options for Day trips which compete in raw beauty, charm and mystery making it hard to pick a place to spend your day. However, if you are looking to enjoy your deliciously sunny day eating and drinking in some of the most scenic and charming locales, you must make a trip to the beautiful Napa Valley known for its great wines and fantastic food.

Any day in Napa Valley is fun but you can experience Napa Valley at its best if you get a chance to visit during the following months:

Feb/March:

Spring is the best time to enjoy the scenery of Napa Valley and the month of March delivers bright yellow mustard flowers against a backdrop of rolling green hills under a lovely blue sky. It is a sight to behold!


The vines would be awakening in this month (after being dormant in the winter) and beginning to bud, so the vineyards would not be in full bloom but there are some beautiful wineries in Napa Valley that will make your visit worthwhile. A notable winery among them is Castello di Amorosa, an elegant Tuscan style castle that offers wine tasting and guided tours. The winery is grand and you will more often than not find couples clicking their wedding portraits here. Whether you take their guided tour or not, it is worth a visit.

One corner of Castello di Amorosa
When we visited Napa Valley in March, we drove through the region often pulling over to absorb the bright and beautiful scenery around. There was no shortage of places to eat and wineries to taste wine at. We chose to have lunch in the cute town of Calistoga and after tasting wine at a couple of wineries in Napa Valley, went to check out the charming town of Yountville for some desserts. Yountville is a small picturesque wine country town near Napa Valley and we couldn't have picked a better place for an evening stroll. Lined with several restaurants, wineries and interesting shops, it was tough to choose where to stop. We almost stopped for another wine tasting but decided to pass after mutually agreeing that we had enough for the day. We then saw a long line in front of a bakery. It was so long that we decided to join the line out of curiosity even though we have never heard of the bakery before. Every one in the line seemed to be regular visitors who are coming back for something particular while we had no clue what we wanted. After about 30 minutes in the line when our turn came, we kept staring at the delicious treats in front of us while the person at the counter and people behind us looked impatiently at us. It is tough to make up your mind with so many treats around, isn't it? I don't remember what we ate that day and how it tasted but we always share a good laugh about how we stood in line for 30 minutes just out of curiosity. Now we know that it was the Michelin starred Bouchon Bakery, though we had no idea back then.

July/August:

We visited Napa Valley for the first time in late August for our 3rd Wedding Anniversary as part of our Pacific Coastal Highway road trip and loved it. We were lucky to have visited Napa Valley in this season as the vineyards are at their best during these months - full of grapes and so seductive that you will find it hard to resist yourself from plucking them off and putting them in your mouth. I never thought grapes looked so beautiful until I saw them elegantly hanging from their vines. 

We started our wine tasting at a small winery called 'Acacia Wineries', which is among the first ones you hit as you enter Napa Valley (which is now bought by another winery, so changed its name). The wines tasted good and the friendly host there suggested that we try the gondola tram ride and the wine tour at their sister Company 'Sterling Vineyards' which is at the other end of Napa Valley. We did and totally loved it. Once you enter the premises and buy the tickets for general admission, a cool gondola tram ride will take you to the winery located on the top of a hill with great views. You can take a self-guided tour of the winery here where you can not only see the grape crushing and wine making but also the barrels where wine is stored while pausing in between for wine tasting. It was a fun experience and one that I would recommend.

View from Sterling Winery









Update: On our most recent trip to Napa Valley with my mom, we went to V. Sattui Winery which had a good collection of wines and a beautiful property with green lawns to bask in the sun or relax in the shade after wine-tasting. At $15 pp, it was a steal in expensive Napa Valley.

September/October:

The harvest season in Napa Valley is so festive with so much food, wine and music at every corner and you don't want to miss the fun. Especially, the annual grape stomping/crushing competition. Several vineyards host these events and while some of them are exclusive and expensive, some are not. We went to the 'Valley of the moon' vintage festival in nearby Sonoma Valley in September with our friends, basked in the sun while we ate and relaxed under the tree's shade while we drank to our heart's content. We participated in the grape stomping competition where you crush the grapes in the barrel with your feet while your partner collects the grape juice and vice versa and the team who collects the maximum grape juice wins. Though it was only 3 minutes per round, it was a lot of fun and we thoroughly enjoyed this traditional way of extracting juice. It is a lot of work though and quite inefficient too and I can see why we moved away from it. It is $25 per team of 2 to enter the competition and while you can buy the tickets online, we found it more flexible to just show up at the registration counter in the morning and get a time slot that works for us. 

Valley of the Moon Vintage Festival grounds

Grape Stomping Competition
I am sure there are many more visits in store for us at Napa Valley as I have several things I am looking forward to experience there including an olive grove and mill tour at Round Pond Estate and fall colors of vines among others. Hope you will make a visit to Napa Valley soon and enjoy the wine tasting, vineyards and their myriad wineries. Don't forget to bring back some wine bottles and memories for sharing :)

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