HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >

Discussion

Help finalizing travel dates for Napa (winery research already done)

Hi all,

I am a long-time lurker who is planning a trip to Napa this fall and would appreciate input on which of these two time periods is better to go:

1] Nov. 1-6
2] Nov. 7-12
3] No real difference

I've read almost every Napa-related thread on here and couldn't find an answer that quite fit my question, but please pardon me if I missed it somehow.

Additional info to consider:

-- I am a wine geek and will be going mainly to the smaller/boutique wineries, so I'd prefer the time period that would make it easier on the winery folks to accommodate me and my (small) group. Some of my tastings will be done with the winemakers.

-- That said, I'm also hoping to have picnics at two of the wineries and spend some time on hiking and other outdoor activities, so if the weather is likely to be different one week vs. the other, that's important, too.

-- Is one week going to be more crowded, or is it pretty much the same?

-- The cost of lodging is a non-factor since I'll be staying at a friend's home.

Sincere thanks and appreciation to anyone who is willing to help!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. November 7-12. Fall is a super busy time for wineries (harvest/post-harvest chaos). They are all on high alert to every teensy weather change. The later you go, the more likely you will not run into this busy time or the aftermath of this busy time. But frankly, dependent on the fall weather/location some wineries will still be going through the harvest process.

    If you are truly truly dedicated to getting an appointment with the winemaker, I would start contacting the winery in the early fall, explain how much you love their wines etc. and ask what the likelihood will be the winemaker will have time in November to meet with your group.

    Rainy season starts in NorCal around Halloween, and it is completely unpredictable until late April, so you just have to take a gamble and hope it works out. Most likely, it will not straight rain (the sun will peak through for a few hours here and there) but you may just get very unlucky and get close to straight rain the whole time.

    1. What goldangl95 said plus...

      -- I am a wine geek and will be going mainly to the smaller/boutique wineries, so I'd prefer the time period that would make it easier on the winery folks to accommodate me and my (small) group. Some of my tastings will be done with the winemakers.
      Good luck with this - as stated, if it is harvest when you are going to be here, even if you have made an appointment to see a winemaker they may have to cancel if there is work to be done. Some winemakers won't even bother seeing people from mid-October through Christmas. You just never know...

      -- That said, I'm also hoping to have picnics at two of the wineries and spend some time on hiking and other outdoor activities, so if the weather is likely to be different one week vs. the other, that's important, too.
      Depending on your flexibility, I would book for both weeks and cancel one or the other as you get closer. If the rains come early, even hiking is problematic because the trails are muddy.

      -- Is one week going to be more crowded, or is it pretty much the same?
      There is no way to know until just beforehand because so much is dependent on the weather during the summer and when harvest actually happens. There have been years when harvest continued into December and it was disgustingly warm and sunny until January but other years when it started raining hard by Halloween and never let up until February.

      1. >>> Some of my tastings will be done with the winemakers.<<<

        If you already know some of the tastings will be done with the winemakers, perhaps you could ask them for their advice as to when your group should visit?

        8 Replies
        1. re: Fowler

          Many thanks, goldangl95, Carrie, and Fowler, for your input. Appreciate it!

          Sounds like my group and I basically should expect the unexpected. =) We'll cross our fingers for some decent weather and plan some outdoor activities, with the understanding that Mother Nature may not cooperate.

          Regarding wineries, sorry, I meant owners instead of winemakers. I would be surprised if any winemakers are available while I'm there, and I'm not expecting it!

          I've spoken with many wineries already and nearly all have said there's no difference between weeks or they just don't know this far in advance (which I understand). So I thought I'd poll the board and see what you guys think/personally prefer.

          1. re: liuzhen

            If you are not trying to meet the winemaker (and therefore not trying to arrive after harvest), I would actually pick the earlier time: Nov 1 -6.

            My reasoning is Nov. 12 is Veteran's day, and it's always much busier in the valley during long weekends (Bay Area and other NorCal residents love to head up to wine country for long weekends and will cancel last minute if it starts pouring).

            1. re: goldangl95

              Excellent point; I forgot all about Veterans Day. Thank you!

              I'll speak with my group and see if they want to keep our trip in early November or maybe try for sometime during the summer. Would you personally prefer early November, or, say early August?

              1. re: liuzhen

                Hi,

                Early August can be very hot (depending upon what you are accustomed to) and rather touristy. We have been there in both weeks you mentioned in November and the weather seems more moderate and less touristy.

                1. re: Fowler

                  Hi Fowler,

                  I just moved from Arizona, and the others in my party are from San Diego. Heat doesn't bother us that much, but I've also never been to Napa during the summer. Do you feel that the drawbacks of the larger crowds in August (any time of the month, really) cancel out the benefits of having nicer weather in which to do more outdoor activities?

                  1. re: liuzhen

                    It depends on your activities/schedule

                    If you are doing appointments only, and you are OK with doing outdoor activities in 90+ degree heat, I would say go in August.

                    If you want to drop by wineries, no matter where you go (even off the beaten path) they will be very, very crowded. Hotel reservations and Restaurant reservations will also be harder to come by, and hotels will be more expensive. If people in your group want to wander around St. Helena or Napa (the city), it will be crowded, with heavy traffic.

                    1. re: liuzhen

                      I lived in San Diego for 20 years before I moved to Napa and the summer heat in Napa is NOTHING like San Diego heat. San Diego is moderately comfortable compared to what can happen to Napa during an August heatwave.

                      You will be a lot happier with less crowds, less heat, less traffic, and less hassle.

                      Trust me - stick to November...

                      1. re: CarrieWas218

                        My group and I have decided to do just that. Thanks again to everyone for your input.