From the rush and crush of the harvest to the cozy vibes of Cabernet Season, Napa Valley offers something to celebrate year-round. If you’re looking for the best time to visit Napa Valley, you really can’t go wrong in any season. But you should know a few things before deciding when to come.
Below, we’ve broken down what you can expect each season when it comes to the weather, crowds, and activities in the valley. No matter which season you pick, you can enjoy delicious gourmet restaurants, fun wine tastings, and vineyard visits.
And when you stay at the lux Chateau de Vie, you’ll experience the beauty of the vineyards and gardens just outside your quiet accommodations.
Winter in Napa Valley
After the holiday season rush around Christmas, the rest of the colder months bring in the low season in Napa Valley. Winter is affectionately known as “Cabernet Season,” a cozy time to slow down after the harvest and soak up the quiet and culture of the valley.
While it may be a bit cooler, Winter is the best time to visit Napa Valley for fewer crowds and off-season deals. Plus, there are some fun foodie festivals and events that you can attend during this peaceful time.
Winter is Napa’s rainy season, so bring along those rain jackets and galoshes on your trip. Even with the rain, there are still plenty of sunny and warm days to enjoy the scenery.
Daytime highs in winter are typically in the 50s but can warm up to the 60s. Low temperatures in January and February hit the 30s, perfect for cozying up by the fire or relaxing in the hot tub at Chateau de Vie.
Things To Do in Winter
Attend the Napa Truffle Festival
Foodies will love visiting Napa Valley in January for the annual Napa Truffle Festival. The event blends delicious Napa Valley wines with some of the best truffle dishes in the world.
During the festival, guests can meet and cook with Michelin Star chefs, learn about cultivation from truffle scientists, visit a truffle orchard for harvesting, and see how truffle dogs sniff out the delicacy.
Dine During Napa Valley Restaurant Week
Napa is known for its culinary prowess and resulting restaurant scene. While the dining is incredible year-round, January is the best time to visit Napa Valley for food lovers.
At the end of the month, Napa Valley Restaurant Week showcases everything from casual bbq joints to Michelin-starred restaurants. The event runs for ten days, during which participating eateries offer special deals, exclusive menus, and tastings.
This is a busy week around Napa. So if you want to try one of Napa’s top-rated restaurants during this time, it’s best to make a reservation.
Enjoy the Napa Lighted Art Festival
The Napa Lighted Art Festival brings illuminated sculptures to Downtown Napa each winter. The event is free and lasts for about a month between January and February. The art pieces combine technology, light, and the creative arts and are projected onto buildings and displayed along a walkable zone downtown.
Run the Napa Valley Marathon
For anyone looking to combine their love of running with a visit to wine country, the Napa Valley Marathon takes place in early March. The event consists of a full marathon, half marathon, and 5K run along a beautiful course. In true Napa fashion, the top three winners in each age bracket are gifted a bottle of wine.
Admire the Blooming Mustard Flowers
Wild mustard season in Napa Valley brings fields of bright yellow flowers to the vineyard grounds. The bloom peaks from January to March, during which time the Napa Valley Mustard Celebration hosts unique art and wine events throughout the region.
You can join guided hikes, attend mustard tastings, sample mustard-infused dishes at local restaurants, and purchase artisan work inspired by the blanket of yellow.
Spring in Napa Valley
Winter showers bring spring flowers to Wine Country, and this is one of the best times to visit Napa Valley if you enjoy spending time outdoors.
Late March through June is a beautiful time to be in the valley and is also one of the busiest tourist seasons, thanks to the excellent weather for al fresco tastings and visits to Napa Valley wineries. The bud break at vineyards happens in spring, and hills throughout the valley are lush with greenery and wildflowers.
Spring may have some scattered showers, but you can expect lots of beautiful sunny days and mild temperatures perfect for hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities.
The high temperatures in wine country sneak up from the 60s in late spring to the upper 70s and 80s by the end of summer. However, evening lows can still drop to the 40s and 50s for most of the spring, so bring layers for dining out at night.
Things To Do in Spring
Hike and Admire the Wildflowers
Wildflowers are in full bloom in wine country in the spring, so this is a great time to get outdoors for a hike or bike ride to admire the colors of nature.
There are many great places to hit the trails in search of wildflowers in the valley, including local preserves like Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, Skyline Wilderness Park, Missimer Snell Wildflower Preserve, and Rockville Hills Regional Park.
You may spot orange California poppies, yellow wood violets, purple lupine, and pink Painted Lady flowers among the blooms.
Attend the BottleRock Napa Valley Festival
Music lovers descend on the valley at the end of May for BottleRock Napa Valley, a festival full of concerts, food, wine, and brews. Held at the Napa Valley Expo, the event features live music from major recording arts as well as a culinary stage where you may even spot a celebrity chef.
Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride
The best season for hot air balloon rides in Napa Valley starts in April, and the epic experience definitely belongs on your wine country bucket list.
Balloon launches occur around dawn, so you’ll enjoy the sunrise and early morning light as you float above the vineyards. Spring is perfect for enjoying the lush green hills and blooming wildflowers from above.
Summer in Napa Valley
Summers are sunny and dry, so this is the best time to visit Napa Valley if you don’t want to worry about encountering any rain. However, with the great weather comes people. Summer is the busy season in Napa, so expect to bump into a few crowds while wine tasting and make your reservations in advance.
Tasting rooms and vineyards offer lots of sips and tours outside during this time. The vineyard harvest, also known as “crush season,” begins toward the end of summer in August, so there are lots of special events and celebrations during the summer season.
The summer months in Napa Valley are known for bright, sunny days. Afternoon highs in July and August usually average in the 80s to 90s. Low temperatures are in the upper 50s, so you can still enjoy cool mornings and evenings outdoors.
Things To Do in Summer
Take in the Sounds of Festival Napa Valley
July is a great time for music lovers to visit Napa Valley, as Festival Nap a Valley puts together a summer season of live music in beautiful locations around the wine country.
Concerts feature everything from jazz to opera to symphony performances. The festival is put on by a nonprofit aiming to inspire arts education and emerging talent while making the arts accessible and affordable for all. Some concerts in the series are offered free of charge in line with this mission.
Catch Live Music at Fuller Park
Though it’s only a one-day event in July, Napa Porchfest is a can’t-miss on a summer visit to Napa Valley. During the event, local musicians from around the valley put on mini concerts from front porches in Napa’s historic neighborhood of Fuller Park.
The streets are closed to cars for the event, while festival goers wander from porch to porch to watch the shows.
Ride Napa Wine Train
The hottest days of the summer are the perfect time to ride the Napa Valley Wine Train. Hosted on a historic train with Pullman Company cars from the early 1900s, the excursion is a once-in-a-lifetime way to experience the valley.
A couple of different day trip options are available, taking passengers to some of the best wineries and cellars in the area.
For the full experience, you can book a six-hour journey to St. Helena that includes a four-course meal and visits to two wineries.
Shorter outings like an afternoon tea ride with sparkling wine or a gourmet lunch experience are also great ways to duck out of the sun for a few hours in summer while sightseeing from the comfort of a lux train car.
Experience the Napa Valley Harvest Season
While the Napa Valley harvest season is most closely associated with autumn, it actually begins in August.
Late summer trips are the perfect time to get in on the action of early harvest and experience some of the season’s special events. During this time, you’ll be able to watch the picking at local vineyards and take tours of the crushing facilities in action.
Take a Swing at Napa’s Golf Courses
Napa Valley may be best known for its abundance of wineries, but the region also hosts some of the most stunning golf courses in the country. From PGA tour favorites to public courses designed by renowned architects, there is a tee time to fit any kind of golfer.
Fall in Napa Valley
From the harvest to the holidays, fall is a magical time to be in wine country. Harvest season in Napa Valley runs through late October to early November, depending on the year, so early autumn visits offer a chance to join in the fun of the “crush season.”
The weather is also mild and dry, perfect for spending time outdoors. Since this is the peak time to visit Napa, you’ll want to make your reservations for wine tastings and restaurants in advance as they fill up quickly.
Fall is a beautiful time to visit wine country. Early in the season, high temperatures are usually in the 70s and 80s but start dropping to the 50s and 60s by November and early December. Nightly lows are typically 20 to 30 degrees colder than the high, so bring layers and a warm jacket for fall trips.
Things To Do in the Fall
Participate in Harvest Events
The harvest season begins in summer with the gathering of grapes for sparkling and white wines but continues through October and sometimes even early November for the cabernet sauvignon and other reds. During this time, you’ll see the grape picking when you visit vineyards, and some put on harvest-themed tours.
You can get in on the action by joining harvest dinners and parties at the wineries or signing up for grape picking and stomping events.
Catch a Screening at the Napa Valley Film Festival
The Napa Valley Film Festival, held annually in November, brings special movie screenings to wine country. Events during the fest include gourmet nights curated by the Culinary Institute of America that pull inspiration for the featured dishes from the films themselves.
Celebrate with Holiday Events
Just after harvest wraps up, the holiday season begins in Napa Valley. Starting mid-November, holiday festivals, dinners, and open houses fill the calendar at local wineries and vineyards.
Small towns around the valley, like Yountville, decorate with twinkling decorations, tree lightings, and holiday concerts and fairs.
Napa Valley is the Perfect Year Round Getaway
Whether you visit in winter for the cheapest time, low crowds, and fun festivals, or in the peak tourist season to witness the harvest, Napa Valley offers amazing experiences all year round.
No matter when you escape to wine country, you are sure to enjoy fine cuisine, live music, tasting rooms, and wine tours offered in local towns and vineyards.
Chateau de Vie’s elegant guest rooms are the perfect cozy spot to host your Napa Valley getaway, with acres of breathtaking views, freshly prepared breakfast, and concierge service throughout your stay.
Featured Image Credit: ZAB Photographie