Napa Valley Harvest Season: A Traveler’s Guide

  • Travel
  • by WINECOUNTRY COLLECTIVE
  • on SEPTEMBER 6, 2023
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Travel

Napa Valley Harvest Season: A Traveler’s Guide

By WineCountry Collective September 6, 2023

Ah, Napa Valley in harvest season—it’s like the world’s most delightful conveyor belt from grape to glass! Between August and October, there’s something in the air as Napa transforms with the buzz of vineyard workers, the scent of fresh grapes, and, oh, those grapes? They’re on a one-way journey to becoming some fantastic wine.

But there’s more to Napa’s harvest than just winemaking. Want to have lunch with a winemaker? Or perhaps you’ve always wanted a behind-the-scenes peek at the winemaking process? Well, this is your season! From unique festivities to vibrant vineyard views, Napa Valley during harvest is an experience you won’t forget. Here’s your guide to visiting.

Wine Tasting During Harvest Season

group of friends drinking wine outdoors

Before you lock in tasting reservations, do a quick check to see if the winery offers any special tours of their property, vineyards, or wine making facilities during harvest, because it’s always a treat to see winemakers and winery teams working their magic.

You can never go wrong with a picnic amidst the vines at Merryvale (it’s the quintessential Napa activity, right?), but if you happen to be traveling with a larger group, don’t miss Merrryvale’s Blending Experience. This special experience will find you and your friends crafting your own unique blend from four different barrel samples. The kicker? You get to bottle up your own one-of-a-kind blend and take it home with you.

Up for a stroll through vibrant gardens and picturesque vineyards? Then head to Burgess Cellars for their La Terre Experience. You’ll visit the winery’s pollinator gardens and vineyards before sitting down for a curated selection of Burgess’ handcrafted wines. And for those of you with an eye for dramatic scenery, Somerston Estate is your stage. Opt for their vineyard tour and tasting, or plan ahead to attend one of their Private Winemaker Lunches or Dinners.

Of course, if you’d rather kick back and let someone else take the wheel, book a tour with Beau Wine Tours. They offer several Napa Valley wine tours to choose from, whether you’re a Napa newbie, a Howell Mountain wine fanatic, or simply fancy an afternoon exploring Spring Mountain’s gems.

One last thing before we move on: don’t overlook any of the WineCountry Experiences offered in Napa Valley. You can’t go wrong with any of them (they’ve been vetted by a picky crowd&emdash;ahem, we mean us), but we are seriously loving the Founder’s Reserve Tasting & Tapas at Sullivan Rutherford (the peaceful surroundings! the incredible wine and food!) as well as Clif Family’s La Cima Wine & Food Experience (did someone say single-vineyard Cabernet with culinary bites? Yes and yes).

Dining During Harvest Season

FARM Carneros in Napa Valley, CA. Photo courtesy of Carneros Resort & Spa

Napa Valley cuisine is like a treasure trove of culinary excellence, and believe us when we say that most restaurants in Napa have mastered the art of seasonal cooking.

As the name implies, FARM Carneros features an elevated menu emphasizing locally sourced produce, including from the restaurant’s own organic gardens. Every dish here is like a love letter to Napa Valley’s seasonal ingredients. Another fabulous spot is The Charter Oak, showcasing food by acclaimed chef, Christopher Kostow. Their dishes are usually composed of just a few ingredients and celebrate the bounty of the region, but don’t mistake simplicity for boring, as everything here is a feast for the senses.

If you’re looking to meet the newest culinary talent of Napa Valley’s Wine Country, we recommend grabbing a table at the Culinary Institute at Greystone’s Gatehouse Restaurant. As the capstone experience for aspiring chefs, guests can expect an innovative menu highlighting creative cooking. A quick tip: There’s a lot of excitement during harvest, but there are also a lot of travelers, so that coveted table at that picture-perfect restaurant? It’s in high demand. We suggest making reservations in advance at your favorite Napa Valley restaurants to ensure you have a seat saved at the table.

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Events During Harvest Season

Many wineries have special harvest events going on during the season. We’ve spotlighted a few of the season’s happenings below, but you can visit our Events Listing page to view more harvest events this time of year.

toasting with wine

Get an inside look at exactly what it takes to make great wines at Groth Vineyards’ Fruit to Wine: The Magic of Harvest event. You’ll sift through the grapevines alongside Groth’s Director of Winegrowing, Ted Henry, determining when the best time to harvest will be and getting an inside look at every step of the winemaking process. End the experience by sampling the fresh squeezed juice and the more refined finished product, of course.

For a fully immersive harvest experience, check out the Behind the Cellar Door event at Cuvaison. You’ll start the day in the vineyard, learning about the fascinating world of grape harvesting techniques, before venturing to the crush pad to contribute to the 2023 vintage. Of course, all that work should be rewarded, so it’s only natural that a fantastic dinner and wine pairings would close out the experience.

Bubbly fan? Then take note: MUMM’s Oysters & Bubbles Event is happening this September, bringing together live music, wine, and Hog Island Oysters for a fun day in Napa Valley. What could be better?

Where to Stay

Oh, trust us, we know that a day of culinary adventures and wine escapades in Napa needs to end in absolute comfort. So, get ready to hit the sack in style, because the hospitality in Napa Valley is as top-notch as the Cabernets. Here are a few spots to consider:

Meritage Resort & Spa in Napa Valley, CA
Photo courtesy of Meritage Resort
Meritage Resort and Spa

Located south of downtown Napa, the Meritage Resort and Spa is a beautiful reflection of Tuscany. Picture yourself enjoying a bottle of wine on your private balcony, overlooking the brilliant autumn hues of the resort’s on-site vineyard, before venturing off for a relaxing massage in the expansive spa cave. Book using code WINECOUNTRY and you’ll get 20% off the best room rate, a $50 resort credit, and more.

Meadowood Napa Valley
Photo courtesy of Meadowood Napa Valley
Meadowood Napa Valley

Meadowood is the epitome of rustic Wine Country chic, offering a woodsy escape without skimping on an ounce of luxury. Spend your days playing tennis, dining on farm-to-table fare, lounging poolside, enjoying a treatment at the secluded spa, and sipping wine beside your cozy in-room wood-burning fireplace. It’s all just another magical day at this iconic Napa resort.

Carneros Resort and Spa
Photo courtesy of Carneros Resort and Spa
Carneros Resort and Spa

For a stay amidst the vine-covered hills of Carneros there’s no better spot than Carneros Resort and Spa. Spacious, farm-style cottages are comfortable and sophisticated, with private outdoor spaces that bring that temperate fall air in. With two pools, a guest-only spa, and several restaurants on-site, you may never need to leave (trust us, that’s a good thing).

Wine Country Inn & Cottages in Napa Valley, CA
Photo courtesy of Wine Country Inn
Wine Country Inn & Cottages

Cozy up at the charming Wine Country Inn & Cottages, which is just minutes from St. Helena. Besides secluded outdoor spaces, the Inn offers a complimentary local breakfast, a hot tub ideal for a post-wine tasting soak, and sweeping vineyard views. Oh, and if that isn’t enough to entice you, book using this link to receive 15% off the best available rate, chocolates and wine upon arrival, and late check-out.

Need more hotel inspiration? Be sure to check out all of our Lodging Perks for exclusive deals on hotel stays, from special discounts and spa credits to complimentary bottles of wine upon check-in.

Conclusion

It’s often said that Napa Valley puts on its finest performance during the harvest season, and we tend to agree. The sights and sounds, the scents in the air, and the dedication of its people all culminate into an experience that’s as intoxicating as the wine itself. Regardless of how you choose to spend the season, your time in Napa during harvest is sure to create new memories you’ll cherish forever. Cheers!