You’re dreaming of a vacation in Napa Valley. It likely involves enjoying chilled wine on a hot summer day, toasting at sundowns, and wandering through courtyards in your finest sundress or linen attire.

But winter offers a different kind of vacation experience in Napa Valley. The days aren’t as scorching, and your senses aren’t burdened by traffic, crowds, or extended waits outside popular eateries.

Since 1998, Chateau De Vie has proudly called Napa Valley its home. With decades of presence in this region, we’ve witnessed the diverse facets of Napa Valley. We wholeheartedly believe that, rain or shine, Napa Valley is the best wine-focused destination in the nation year-round. But, for those who prefer to avoid droves of tourists, the quieter winter days in Napa Valley are golden.

After the lively harvest season, winter in Napa Valley slows down to a decadent crawl. Cabernet season takes over, and wild mustard flowers paint the vineyards in a vibrant yellow hue.

During this time of the year, crackling fireplaces enhance the festive ambiance. It feels like a secretive season. A time of subtle magic and shared moments—made even more special with abundant Napa Valley wine.

Here’s a complete travel guide for a delightful Napa Valley vacation in winter.

Winter Weather in Napa

In the last weeks of November, Napa Valley transitions from a blazing autumn to a rainy and chilly winter. There are fewer crowds, giving winter visitors a serene Christmas and a rare opportunity to forge a personal connection with Napa’s picturesque surroundings.

Although there’s no snowfall, Napa Valley winters can bring a nip in the air, along with occasional showers. November typically offers milder temperatures, while December and January see average highs of 58°F and lows of 39°F.

The winter season ends in the early days of February when signs of spring start to show.

Napa Valley in winter invites you to revel in misty mornings cuddling with your loved ones, spend slow afternoons of wine tasting under the winter sun, and evenings by the fireplace, cradling a steaming mug of hot chocolate as the rain gently taps against the windows.

What to Pack

As you prepare for your Napa Valley winter escapade, pack these winter essentials to fend off winter chill while looking stylish and sophisticated.

  • Thick layers like warm sweaters, gloves, socks, and scarves
  • A chic coat for winery visits
  • A light rain jacket and tasteful umbrella
  • Comfortable shoes for all-day exploring
  • Winter boots for chilly nights
  • Winter skincare essentials like lip balm and moisturizer

Rest assured, your luxurious rooms at CDV are stocked with premium bath products designed to keep your skin and hair healthy and hydrated, so there’s no need to bring those along.

Winter Activities in Napa Valley

1. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride

Photo Credit: Paul Thomas Curry

Break from the spell of our ultra-cozy beds for a sunrise hot air balloon ride in Napa Valley. Be prepared for sweeping vistas of vineyards and undulating hills. After all, there’s no better way to see Napa Valley’s winter makeover than from a bird’s eye view.

The takeoff points are sprinkled around multiple areas of Napa Valley, like Pope Valley, Paradise, and Yountville. To secure your spot for this adventure, contact Napa Valley Balloons to make a reservation. Be sure to review the weather forecast for optimal conditions, ensuring the finest winter views of California Wine Country.

2. Mustard Bloom on Napa Valley Wine Train

Photo Credit: Christophe La

In Napa, mustard seeds are strategically planted between vineyard rows, functioning as a cover crop. This practice safeguards the soil, enriching it with nutrients while also acting as a natural deterrent for grapevine pests.

The wildflowers bloom from late January to March, making winter the best time to see them. It’s easy to spot fields of mustard flowers from afar or up the hot air balloon. The best way to experience the yellow bloom is aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train!

This scenic three-hour round-trip excursion shuttles you from Downtown Napa to the town of St. Helena, offering a refreshing view of the joyful mustard flower fields.

3. Explore Downtown Napa

The streets of downtown Napa, aglow with holiday lights, entice visitors for a stroll. Enjoy phenomenal seasonal plates at TORC or comfort food at Oenotri. Peruse Napa General Store for unique souvenirs, or browse boutiques like Tay & Grace for chic winter attire. On a romantic Valentine’s Day winter getaway with your sweetheart?

Splurge on an unforgettable evening at The French Laundry—oysters, truffles, and sparkling wine, anyone?

4. Tour Legendary Napa Valley Wineries

Love sipping wine alfresco? Want to wander the grounds of legendary wineries? You can still do all of that and more in Napa Valley in winter without jostling through a crowd.

A visit to tasting rooms in the off-season is super rewarding as the sommeliers have more time to provide visitors with a detailed, well-explained wine tour. In the holiday season, the best wineries in Napa Valley offer cozy winter-specific amenities like thick blankets and heat lamps to keep you comfortable.

We’d go so far as to say that enjoying a robust cabernet or velvety zinfandel on an open patio while wrapped in soft blankets under a shining moon surpasses anything the summer months can offer.

At Cade Winery, the attentive staff even tends to a small outdoor firepit to keep guests warm. Domaine Carneros is another landmark winery worth visiting.

Also, the Winter in the Wineries Passport makes it extremely easy on the wallet to sample 16 wineries in Calistoga, all for less than $100 per person.

5. Immerse in a Hot Mud Bath

In the small Napa Valley city of Calistoga, cold winter days call for a hot mud bath. What’s that you ask? Well, it’s more than just a spa day— it’s a messy but therapeutic immersion into nature’s healing powers. Enriched with natural minerals, the warm mud soothes muscles and rejuvenates the skin – an excellent way to chase away the chill on a frigid day.

Experience this one-of-a-kind treatment at popular spas like Calistoga Spa Hot Springs and Golden Haven Hot Springs.

6. Visit The Lighted Art Festival

From January to February, spanning 4-5 weeks of winter, the town’s attention pivots from wine and grapes to art, all thanks to The Lighted Art Festival. Illuminated artworks created by talented local artists take center stage in the heart of Downtown Napa.

The event combines color and technology with the spirit of creativity and wonder. And the best part? It’s completely free to attend. Mark your calendars for the 2024 Napa Lighted Art Festival from January 20th to February 18th, 2024.

The highlights are:

  • Projection display (January 20th – 28th 2024)
  • Lantern Parade (February 10th, 2024)

7. Day Trip to Downtown Sonoma

A winter day trip from Napa Valley to Downtown Sonoma is an incredible way to see two lovely destinations in a single vacation.

In Sonoma, romance mingles with the mist-shrouded air, turning the one-hour drive from Chateau de Vie to Sonoma County into a dreamy experience.

Dining in Sonoma

You’ll know you’ve arrived in Sonoma when Michelin-starred restaurants and polished roads give way to lush greenery. The rustic yet exclusive eateries are scattered throughout the expansive county, adding to the charm of the area.

For an authentic American breakfast, head to Sunflower Caffe or enjoy a farm-to-table dining experience at the girl & the fig.

The Historic Downtown Area

Begin with a walkabout of the historic downtown area. Stop by tiny mom-and-pop stores to pick up souvenirs, and don’t fight the temptation to duck into quaint cafes for a cup of hot chocolate.

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve

Alternatively, outdoorsy travelers aching to stretch their legs could hike amidst ancient redwoods at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve.

Wineries

Arrange for a hired driver and end your day in Sonoma at an upscale winery. Ridge Vineyards and Jordan Vineyard and Winery are prime selections for exceptional wines and scenic views. Foley Sonoma boasts an airy outdoor patio and a fantastic fireplace – perfect for the last drink of the evening before returning to Napa Valley. Plus, it’s only a 30-minute drive from Chateau de Vie.

Enjoy a Whimsical Winter in Napa at Chateau De Vie

Winter months double as the rainy season in Napa Valley. It’s common to see gray skies and occasional rain, which may put a damper on outdoor activities, leading you to seek indoor alternatives.

When you choose to stay with CDV Napa Valley during winter, we ensure that your indoor experience is a perfect blend of comfort, adventure, and warmth. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to savor our exquisite estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chateau de Vie’s luxury B&B rooms feature a private garden jacuzzi hot tub, perfect for chilly days. Additionally, our villa rentals offer special amenities like a heated pool and a fully stocked kitchen for preparing meals.