The Best Time of the Year to Visit Napa Valley

  • Guides
  • by WINECOUNTRY COLLECTIVE
  • on JANUARY 15, 2024
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Guides

The Best Time of the Year to Visit Napa Valley

By WineCountry Collective January 15, 2024

Regardless of when you plan to visit, be it next weekend or next fall, Napa Valley is always a good idea. After all, there’s a reason why Napa remains one of the most popular destinations in California, and, believe it or not, wine is just a small part of the equation.

Happiness is not a state of mind, but a trip to Napa Valley.

From world-class wineries and breathtaking scenery to luxurious accommodations, acclaimed restaurants, rejuvenating spas, vibrant arts and culture, unique shopping, and more, Napa Valley truly has something for everyone. Plus, with its mild Mediterranean climate, this Northern California wine region boasts plenty of sunny days year-round, making it an ideal destination any time of year.

So when, exactly, is the best time of year to visit Napa Valley? It really depends on the type of experience you want to enjoy, as every season offers a different slice of Wine Country life. To help you plan the perfect getaway, regardless of the time of year, we’ve put together a seasonal guide to visiting Napa Valley.

Winter / “Low” Season

Winter, aka “low season,” may be considered the rainy season in Napa, but don’t let that deter you. The months of January, February, and March still offer much to love, thanks to plenty of clear, sunny days, daytime highs in the 50s, and fewer crowds than other times of year. It’s also a good time to take advantage of off-season hotel rates, which can often make an escape to Napa much easier on the budget. Of course, with evening temps dropping down into the 30s in some parts of Napa Valley, you’ll want to bring warm clothes, and preferably find a place to cozy up next to a fire.

Alila Hotel
Spa Alila at Alila Hotel, Photo courtesy of Alila Hotel
Clif Family Winery
Seasonal food pairings, Photo courtesy of Clif Family Winery

Our Favorite Off-Season Activities in Napa Valley:

  1. LIVING THE LUXE LIFE

    Indulge in a pampered stay at one of Napa Valley’s most luxurious hotels without paying peak season rates (yay!), then spend the money saved on an indulgent spa treatment or fancy dinner. What could be better?

  2. WINE & FOOD PAIRINGS

    Discover the joys of pairing wine with food through an educational (and delicious) experience at a top winery. We’ve curated a list of our top 10 favorite pairings and the most unique wine pairings to help get you started.

  3. VISITING TOP WINERIES WITHOUT THE CROWDS

    Visit Napa’s more popular wineries—such as PEJU Winery, Pine Ridge Vineyards, and Domaine Carneros—without worrying about summertime crowds. While most still require reservations, you’ll likely have your choice of appointment times.

Wine tasting at Round Pond Estate in Napa Valley, CA
Wine tasting at Round Pond Estate in Napa Valley, CA. Courtesy of Facebook: Round Pond Estate

Spring Season

After the winter rains, spring is a rejuvenating time of year in Napa Valley, when wildflowers adorn the vibrant green hillsides, vineyards start to awaken with the start of bud break, and the overall vibe is relaxed and cheerful as the days get longer. While you still may see some rain in the forecast, most of the time the temperatures are mild and inviting, making wine tasting outdoors a more appealing prospect. It’s also a great time to explore Napa’s outdoorsy side, biking or hiking around before the summertime heat descends upon the Valley. Average highs tend to range in the mid-to-high 60s and start to roll into the mid-70s by May, though evening lows are still pretty chilly, typically in the mid-to-high 40s.

Acacia House
Spring’s bounty at Acacia House, Photo courtesy of Acacia House

Our Favorite Spring Activities in Napa Valley:

  1. BIKING THE VALLEY

    There’s nothing like savoring the sights of Napa on two wheels with a guided bike tour with Getaway Adventures. Or, you could rent a bike to explore the region on your own.

  2. VISITING SUSTAINABLE WINERIES

    Live out Earth Day all season long with a visit to some of Napa’s most sustainable wineries. We’d highly suggest following your tasting with a local and seasonal lunch in St. Helena.

  3. REJUVENATING MUD TREATMENTS

    Experience the healing benefits of Calistoga’s mud with a treatment at one of Calistoga’s top spas before settling down for a delicious meal at a nearby top restaurant. Trust us, you’ll be glowing from the inside out.

Hot air balloon ride in Napa Valley
Take to the skies! Photo Courtesy of Bob McClenahan Photography

Summer / “Peak Season”

With dry, sunny days and virtually no rain—there’s rarely a cloud in the sky from sunrise to sunset—it’s no wonder why people flock to Napa Valley during the summer months. Wineries and tasting rooms embrace the nice weather by offering outdoor tastings and vineyard tours, hotel pools can be found bustling with happy guests enjoying the California sunshine, and local farmers’ markets are bursting with summer produce. You’ll find average daytime temperatures in the mid-80s to mid-90s, depending on how far north you are in the valley, with lows ranging in the 50s at night.

Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort
The pool at Dr. Wilkinson’s, Photo courtesy of Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort
Napa Valley Balloons, Inc.
Photo courtesy of Napa Valley Balloons, Inc.

Our Favorite Summer Activities in Napa Valley:

  1. BOTTLEROCK

    We love kicking off the summer season with music and wine at BottleRock Napa Valley, inarguably one of the biggest festivals in Northern California each year.

  2. POOLSIDE HANGS

    What could be better than lounging poolside whilst basking in the California sun? Lounging poolside just steps from your hotel room. Here are a few of our favorite hotel pools for inspiration.

  3. HOT AIR BALLOONING

    Soar high above the valley with a hot air balloon ride via Napa Valley Aloft or Napa Valley Balloons, Inc. If you’re a balloon first-timer, here’s what to know before you go.

Fall in Napa Valley
Photo Courtesy of Bob McClenahan Photography

Fall Season

Fall is always a busy time of year in Wine Country, when the bustling harvest season brings an air of excitement to the Valley. During the months of August, September, and October, winery teams can be seen picking grapes in the vineyards for crush, and some wineries even offer special harvest tours so you can witness the winery production facilities buzzing with action. Even if you’re not here for the wine, it’s hard to deny the appeal of fall in Napa, when the region shines with vibrant autumnal colors of orange, red, gold, and yellow. Add in mild temperatures both day and night and it’s no wonder why harvest is a popular time for visitors (we recommend booking reservations well in advance). Average day highs linger in the high 70s to low 80s, dropping down into the 50s at night, with rarely much precipitation in sight.

Mayacamas Vineyards
Photo Courtesy of Mayacamas Vineyards

Our Favorite Fall Activities in Napa Valley:

  1. CABERNET TASTING

    Prepare for the cooler months by stocking up on Napa Valley’s premier wine: Cabernet. We’ve put together a list of some of our favorite spots for tasting Cabs in Napa, or, if exclusivity is more your game, check out our top cult wineries in Napa.

  2. TRIPS TO DOWNTOWN NAPA

    Downtown Napa has never been more happening, and we’re all about it. Book a stay at a chic hotel and then enjoy all the exciting tasting rooms and hip restaurants within walking distance.

  3. WINE TASTING WITH A VIEW

    Napa Valley is chock full of wineries with surroundings as stunning as the wines served. When you’re ready to delight all your senses, consider any of these 10 most beautiful wineries.

Christmas Tree
Photo Courtesy of Unsplash | Jason Leung

Winter Holiday Season

Mid-November through early January is no doubt a magical time in Napa Valley, when festive winter events and holiday gatherings add to the joy of the season. Starting with Thanksgiving, many restaurants in the area offer special holiday dinners to take advantage of, while wineries host a range of specials on wine and holiday open-houses. Whole towns even go all out this time of year, showcasing bright twinkly lights and special events for kids of all ages. Daytime averages are usually in the high 50s to low 60s, with nighttime temps clocking in the 40s and high 30s. So, while you won’t be in for a “white Christmas” in Napa, rainy days can be more frequent, so don’t forget an umbrella or a rain jacket for those times when the weather forecast calls for rain instead of sun.

Napa Valley Wine Train
The Wine Train comes alive with the spirit of the holidays, Photo Courtesy of Napa Valley Wine Train

Our Favorite Holiday Activities in Napa Valley:

  1. COOKING CLASSES AT CIA

    Prep for all that holiday entertaining by taking a hands-on cooking class at the CIA at Copia, located in downtown Napa. Afterwards, we recommend stopping into the CIA’s Marketplace to stock up on gifts for the foodies in your life.

  2. HOPPING ABOARD THE WINE TRAIN

    During the holiday season, the Napa Valley Wine Train offers festive experiences for kids of all ages—the most popular being the Santa Train, which includes games, hot cocoa, cookies, live entertainment, and more. Adults will also love spending a festive New Year’s Eve aboard the train.

  3. UNLOCKING NAPA’S ARTISTIC SIDE

    Take a break from holiday shopping with a stop into downtown Napa’s Acumen Wine Gallerypart art gallery, part tasting room. Or, venture to one of Napa’s wineries with stunning art collections, where the art truly is as impressive as the wine.

Conclusion

Need more info to help you plan an idyllic Wine Country getaway? You can get the latest forecast and further details on monthly temperatures by visiting our Napa Valley weather page. For those who don’t live locally in the San Francisco Bay Area, if you need help deciding which airport to fly into, we’ve got you covered with our Airport Traveler’s Guide to Visiting Napa. You may also want to check out our detailed Napa Valley map to help you get a lay of the land before visiting. And if you haven’t narrowed down your destination in Wine Country between Napa or Sonoma, you can visit our sister site to discover our seasonal guide to visiting Sonoma County.