Harvest is like Christmas come early in Napa Valley. Starting in September, the sweet smell of fermentation permeates the air during the busiest and most exciting time of the year to visit Northern California’s Wine Country. You don’t want to miss out on the magic, so we’ve rounded up the top 10 ways to celebrate Harvest in 2018 — which may or may not result in grape-stained feet and fingers and plenty of amazing pours.
Release your inner Lucy. These Napa Valley wineries will let you crush freshly harvested grapes into wine the old school way.
Friday, August 24, 2018, 10 AM
Grgich Hills founder Mike Grgich grew up stomping grapes in Croatia and has continued that tradition in Napa Valley for more than three decades. Every year, the winery invites the public to join them for their annual Blessing of the Grapes to kick off the harvest season, which includes an outdoor reception and free grape stomping until noon.
This is also the only winery in Napa Valley that hosts daily grape stomps (10 AM-3:30 PM, $40 adults, $20 kids) throughout harvest. The experience comes with a tasting of three estate wines (adults only) and after you’ve crushed the grapes to juice, you can stamp your wet feet on a commemorative t-shirt.
1829 St. Helena Hwy., Rutherford, CA 94573, (707) 963-2784
Friday, September 21, 2018, 6:30 PM
Cost: $125, $95 wine club members, $25 extra for stomp competition
What better place to make wine like the old days than a castle? Assemble your army and storm the Castello di Amorosa crush pad at the winery’s annual Grape Stomp Competition. The team who stomps the most juice gets the throne (for the night). Stomping is optional and the evening will also include harvest and winemaking demos, an underground tour of the castle and its torture chambers, a Wine Country dinner buffet paired with the house wines, plus a live band and dancing.
4045 St. Helena Hwy., Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 967-6272
Saturday, August 18, 2018, 10:30 AM
Cost: $275, $255 wine club members
Peju Province Winery takes their annual grape stomp competition very seriously, so you’ll want to start rounding up a large-footed team member and designing costumes now (prizes will be awarded to the stomp champions, as well as teams with the best theme and costume). After the stomp, sit down to a delicious farm-to-table lunch paired with Peju wines.
8466 St Helena Hwy, Rutherford, CA 94573, (707) 963-3600
You can’t properly celebrate the grape harvest without getting your hands a little (or a lot) dirty. Don’t worry, your hard work will be rewarded.
Saturday, September 29, 2018, 10 AM
Cost: $175, $150 wine club members
At their annual Harvest Boot Camp, the historic Trefethen Vineyards will take you step-by-step through the harvest process. Start by picking grapes out in the vineyard and then follow them back to the crush pad where they’ll soon become juice. While the juice starts the fermentation process, you’ll have the chance to sample past vintages right from the barrel. The day culminates in a bountiful, al fresco lunch under the shade of an ancient walnut tree.
1160 Oak Knoll Ave., Napa, CA, 94558, (866) 895-7696
Saturday, October 13, 2018, 10 AM
Cost: $250, $200 wine club members
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a winemaker? The Day in the Life experience at Round Pond Estate will give you an idea. Over the course of this five-hour day, you’ll work closely with winemaker J.J. Dowell as she and her team go about their daily harvest responsibilities, sampling the wares along the way. You will most definitely be covered in sticky grape juice by the end of it, but in return, you’ll enjoy a guided tasting of Round Pond’s estate olive oils and an artisan lunch under the pergola.
875 Rutherford Rd., Rutherford, CA 94558, (707) 320-2575
Celebrate the 2018 vintage with wine, food, and outright fun at one of these Napa Valley winery harvest parties.
Weekly or bi-weekly throughout Harvest, 5 PM
Tamber Bey’s Harvest Crush Crew BBQs is kind of like enjoying a home cooked meal where someone else does both the cooking and the dishes. Sit down with the harvest crew and winemaker Andy Jones after a long day of work and chow down on summer barbecue paired with Tamber Bey wines. Feel free to ask as many questions as you’d like; this casual gathering is meant to double as an educational opportunity to learn all about what goes into the harvest season. The only heavy lifting required of you is bringing ribs up to your mouth. Harvest Crush Crew BBQs is offered weekly or bi-weekly through the end of harvest, depending on the winery’s pick schedule, so visit the website for updated times.
The winery is also hosting their annual Fall Release Party, Tamber Bey’s biggest party of the year, on Saturday, October 7, from 12-5 PM. Expect food, live music, free-flowing wine, and other activities. Tickets are $55, or $45 for wine club members.
1251 Tubbs Lane, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 942-2011
Saturday, September 15, 5:30 PM
Cost: $275, $250 wine club members
Don your finest threads for V. Sattui’s Harvest Ball. Now in its 34th year, this is by far one of the most lavish affairs of the Harvest season, complete with fine wines, a multi-course dinner prepared by a Michelin-starred chef, and live music from a top Michael Jackson tribute band. Following dinner, Bay Area party band Big City Revue will keep you dancing until you turn back into a pumpkin (or 11pm when the party ends).
For something much more casual, V. Sattui will also host its annual Crush Party on October 6, from 6-10 PM. This giant open house will take you behind the scenes at harvest time and provide the chance to meet the winemaking and vineyard teams, stomp grapes, and taste more than 45 wines alongside wood-fired delights.
1111 White Lane, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 963-7774
Saturday, September 22, 2018, 7 PM
Cost: $300, $225 wine club members
Inglenook’s iconic Rubicon Release Party is already sold out this year, but it should definitely be on your radar for 2019 (you’ll want to jump on tickets fast). If you’ve never had the chance to visit the historic Inglenook chateau, this popular event is a great excuse. Food, wine, and fun is promised during a wildly magical evening at this Francis Ford Coppola estate, which celebrates Inglenook’s flagship wine since 1978. Rubicon is made from the best estate fruit, including cabernet sauvignon first planted back in the 1880s.
1991 St. Helena Hwy , Rutherford, CA , 94573, (707) 968-1144
Saturday, September 29, 2 PM
Cost: $115, $80 wine club members
Celebrate the 2018 harvest by tasting new releases and barrel samples of the 2017 Proprietary White Wine, noshing on BBQ meat from SMOKE — cooked live and on an open fire — besting your friends at lawn games, and partaking in some old fashioned grape stomping. This is also your chance to get your hands on the newest vintage (2015) of the highly sought after Paraduxx X2.
7257 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558, (707) 945-0890
Saturday, September 29, 2018, 4 PM
Cost: $75, $50 wine club members
Head over to the ultimate Wine Country casual event of the season, Rutherford Ranch’s annual Harvest BBQ. Hang out in the shade of their oak trees and enjoy live music, lawn games, juicy, grilled fodder from a local vendor, and of course, wine.
1680 Silverado Trail South, St Helena, CA 94574, (707) 968-3200
Cover image courtesy of Facebook: Grgich Hills