Planning a One-Day Tour of Napa Valley

There are many vineyards, restaurants, and scenic overlooks to visit and explore during your excursion to California’s wine country, more famously known as Napa Valley. It can be overwhelming to choose not only which mode of transportation you’d like to use, but which vineyards you’d like to visit, what day of the week is best for visiting which vineyard, and which historical sites along famous Highway 29 should not be missed. It is recommended that visiting Napa Valley in one day follow an itinerary of either 3 to 4 winery per day, including at least one full tour. There are thousands of day tour combinations that could be made considering there are about 400 wineries in Napa Valley alone. Here are a few things to consider when planning your one-day tour of Napa Valley.

  1. Eating

    When considering a day trip to Napa Valley, remember that not all wineries serve meals. Some include cheese and wine samplings or other light pairings, but these sorts of appetizers will not hold you throughout the day. Traveling, sightseeing, and sampling wine all day will definitely leave you feeling famished. Opt to stop at one of the many famous picnic areas along the less-traveled Silverado Trail, such as the Sterling Vineyards or Rutherford Hill Wineries, if you’re traveling on a smaller budget. Otherwise, the Restaurant at Auberge in Rutherford is not to be missed; Auberge du Soleil was ranked among 34 other restaurants in the Bay Area to receive One Michelin Star.

  2. Drinking

    If you’re looking to take a tour of Napa Valley, you’re probably looking to sample a few sips of what the vineyards have to offer. That’s not to say that you’re planning on being intoxicated by noon; however, it’s important to think about the safety of yourself and others. If you feel as though you should be chauffeured between vineyards, there are many options available in Napa Valley. Even if you’re not looking to drink more than a few sips, already have a designated driver, or if you’re traveling with your family, it’s still important to remember that wineries are alcoholic establishments and have rules for those under 21.

  3. Transportation

    There are many interesting and delightful modes of transportation offered to sightseers of Napa Valley. Companies such as Napa Valley Balloons, Inc. have created tiered price packages for unforgettable adventures before, during, and after their hot air balloon rides. If you’re not interested in an aerial view of the scenery, try horseback riding through the foothills of the Sierra Nevada instead. You don’t have to be a professional or even an experienced horseback rider. Napa Valley Horse Co. offers vineyard ride packages for the inexperienced and unfamiliar. Perhaps you’d like to bicycle or go hiking through the scenery, and make pit stops on your own time. In that case, check out Napa Valley Bike Tours or visit Skyline Wilderness Park, renowned for its walking and hiking trails.

  4. Seasonal Matters

    High season for Napa Valley runs from April through October. During these fruitful seven months, the grapevines are lush and seem to overflow from the vineyards. In the fall months, the warm golds and ambers replace the vine’s former greenery. Prices become a bit higher and there are many more visitors during this time than during the low season. For vintners, low season runs from November through March during winter when the vineyards are resting. For these remaining five months of the year, vines start to appear barren, but eventually start coming back to life in early spring. If you’re traveling on a budget or would prefer visiting when there are less waits, reservation restrictions, or fellow tourists, make sure to visit Napa Valley during the low season.

  5. Cost Limitations

    Visiting Napa Valley in one day can become expensive very quickly, taking into account transportation costs, entrance fees, tasting fees, meals, accommodations, and souvenirs that you may want to purchase along the way. Each individual has expectations and a budget when taking a vacation, and a one-day tour of Napa Valley is no different. Many sightseers visit Napa Valley each year on a small budget. A good number of wineries offer free picnic areas where you can bring your own food, but due to their popularity, most of them must be reserved in advance. There is a rule, however, that you do not bring other types of wine with you. Make sure to support the vineyard by purchasing a bottle of their wine, if possible. This bottle of wine can function as your souvenir as well, and could be the one item that you spend your money on. You can also save money by traveling during low season, driving your own vehicle instead of renting, or going old-fashioned by hiking, walking, and biking around the vineyards.