Napa Valley is one of the premiere travel destinations in California, as it’s considered to be the epicenter of wine production, a renowned leisure and recreation spot, and one of the most beautiful areas to explore. In addition to being known as a world famous wine growing region, Napa Valley is also home to a plethora of upscale resorts and hotels, award-winning restaurants, and epic adventures.
While the Napa Valley can be visited year-round (thanks to its idyllic weather), one of the best times of the year to head here is during the Fall season, which is also known as Harvest time. In addition to a series of events (like winemaker dinners and grape crush parties), Autumn is a spectacular time to visit Napa Valley because the weather is comfortably temperate and the leaves are changing color. This makes it exceptionally fabulous for exploring the area, taking in the sights, and capturing stunning photos.
The Ultimate Fall Travel Guide to Napa Valley
Featured in the Inspirations & Celebrations’ Ultimate Fall Travel Guide to Napa Valley are several of the most amazing things to do and places to see in Napa Valley during Autumn.
Amazing Places to Stay in Napa Valley
When planning a trip to Napa Valley, one of the first things to consider is where you want to stay. Keeping in mind that the Napa Valley is 30 miles long, which means you can expect to drive virtually everywhere, the hotel you choose will most likely have a bearing on the areas you end up exploring.
If you plan on doing activities in the central region of Napa Valley (including Oakville, Rutherford, and St. Helena), it’s advisable to choose a hotel in either Napa, Yountville, or St. Helena. Featured here are two fantastic hotel options that offer a range of fun on-site activities and cozy accommodations.
Meadowood Resort (St. Helena, CA.)
Surrounded by vineyards and a shady grove of trees, the luxurious Meadowood Resort offers both prestige and privacy for hotel guests and visitors. From elegantly-appointed guest rooms and a Michelin 3-Star rated restaurant to on-site croquet, swimming pools, spa, and tennis courts, Meadowood is a picturesque haven for visitors from all parts of the world.
With its traditional Cape Cod-inspired architecture and pristine landscaping, this upscale St. Helena resort and spa is truly one of the most breathtaking hotels in the Napa Valley. With rooms starting at around $500 per night, the Meadowood is certainly considered a premium luxury hotel, but definitely worth the price.
Silverado Resort & Spa (Napa, CA.)
For a more affordably-priced vacation in Napa Valley, the iconic Silverado Resort & Spa is a fantastic hotel option. Including two championship golf courses, a full-service spa, beautifully decorated rooms and suites, outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, and more, the Silverado Resort offers enough recreational activities to keep you happily busy throughout your entire vacation.
Ranging from $150-$500 per night (depending on the type of room or suite you choose), the hotel is considered an affordable luxury in the heart of Napa Valley. In addition, the resort is ideally situated along the Silverado Trail, just minutes from downtown Napa, a brief walk to several renowned wineries, and a short drive to other popular destinations in the Napa Valley.
Amazing Things to Do in Napa Valley
Aside from the recreational activities you can enjoy at one of the above resorts, the Napa Valley is home to some of the most epic adventures and events you could ever imagine. Take out your bucket-list and be prepared to start checking off some of those must-do activities you’ve been dreaming of.
Hot Air Ballooning by Napa Valley Aloft (Yountville, CA.)
One of the best ways to see the Napa Valley is from a bird’s eye view. Soaring thousands of feet above the ground (yet feeling like you’re gracefully floating with the breeze), a hot air balloon ride over the picturesque Napa Valley is the ultimate activity to partake in. This spectacular experience is truly memorable, making it ideal for commemorating special occasions (like a birthday or anniversary).
While the idea of ascending above the vineyards in a hot air balloon might give you a bit of anxiety, have no fear – the highly experienced team at Napa Valley Aloft will make your cares melt away. Not only has this family-owned and operated company been doing hot air balloon rides for decades, they were the first hot air ballooning operation in Napa Valley. This popular tourist attraction continually gets rave reviews and 5-star Yelp ratings from happy customers.
Once your majestic hot air balloon ride is over, you’ll be treated to a Champagne brunch at the Pacific Blues Cafe, which is the perfect way to get your day off the ground. From indulging in decadent Vanilla Cinnamon French Toast to noshing away on Fresh Ranch Eggs & Hash Browns, the magical Napa Valley Aloft hot air balloon ride and delectable brunch is certainly a sweet way to start your day.
Castello di Amorosa Pagan Ball (Calistoga, CA.)
If you happen to be visiting Napa Valley during Halloween, be prepared to dress to the nines in an over-the-top costume for the annual Pagan Ball, held at the palatial Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga.
This iconic winery (built by legendary winemaker Dario Sattui) was created by importing millions of dollars worth of materials directly from Europe. Designed in the style of a 13th century Tuscan castle, the authentically-built breathtaking Castello di Amorosa not only has an expansive vineyard to explore, it also has stone caves, an underground dungeon, and soaring towers.
From ghoulishly good food and wine to bone-shaking music and even a haunted chamber tour, the sold-out Pagan Ball is the ultimate Halloween party for those who like to play dress-up on Hallows Eve. Make sure to bring your camera, because you’ll definitely want photos of the beautiful castle and elaborate costumes. Since this could easily be considered the best Halloween party in Napa Valley, it’s no wonder that people from near and far make the journey to come to Calistoga every year for this annual fête.
If you’re interested in visiting The Castle during a different time of year, make sure to check out their events page to learn about the other galas and festivities they’re hosting. From winemaker dinners to a Masquerade Ball on New Year’s Eve, the Castello di Amorosa is known for its fabulous shindigs.
Wine Tasting in Napa Valley
Since Napa Valley is known for being the world’s largest wine producing region, you’ll definitely want to add wine tasting to your vacation itinerary. From the Napa Valley Wine Train and Wine Trolley to private tours and tastings at nearly 500 wineries, there’s no shortage of places to go wine tasting here. To help guide you toward the best wineries in the area, featured below are four of the most beautiful wineries in Napa Valley.
Del Dotto Vineyards (St. Helena, CA.)
Del Dotto Vineyards is a family-owned winery which focuses on small production, premium wines. Owner, Dave Del Dotto, has spent the last 20 years acquiring vineyards in some of the top American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) including Rutherford, Oakville, St. Helena, Spring Mountain, Howell Mountain, and Sonoma Coast.
This family-owned and operated winery boasts two beautiful tasting locations, including a magnificent Venetian style estate in St. Helena.
With its ornate decor, pristinely landscaped entrance, and romantic caves, the award-winning Del Dotto Vineyards is one of the must-visit places for red wine lovers. Not only did TripAdvisor bestow them with the 2015 Certificate of Excellence award, CellarPass anointed them as the “Destination of the Year” in 2015 for being the most romantic winery in Napa Valley.
One of the most influential wine critics in the world, Robert Parker exclaims, “Del Dotto Vineyards’ offerings are some of the more interesting and best made wines made in Napa Valley.”
By buying $2000 worth of wine, you earn entry into the Del Dotto VIP Membership, which entitles you to exclusive event invites, complimentary tours and tastings, eligibility to reserve their VIP cottages, and access to special production wines.
Domaine Chandon (Yountville, CA.)
When you want to toast to the perfect vacation, head to Domaine Chandon in Yountville. This celebrated producer of sparkling and still wines will have you bubbling with excitement the moment you step onto their beautiful property.
With its contemporary architectural design (designed to resemble wine barrels) to its expansive landscaped gardens and lawn patio, it’s easy to see how you can spend an afternoon sipping on wine and relaxing with friends at Domaine Chandon. Open seven days a week, guests are welcome to sit on the Terrace, take in the sights, and enjoy a bottle of wine.
From their best-selling Brut Classic sparkling wine to their popular Rosé, Domaine Chandon produces a range of tasty (yet affordably-priced) sparkling and still wines.
When taking a tour of their production facility, you’ll not only get to taste several wines, you’ll also see first-hand where the wines are produced, fermented, and bottled. Perfect for pairing with foods during the holidays and for special occasions, the palette-pleasing Domaine Chandon wines are always a hit at an party.
When you become a part of Club Chandon, you get to enjoy the perks of the membership, including special events (such as the Club Chandon Holiday Dinner), access to winery-exclusive and limited-production wines, and discounts on wine purchases.
Peju Province Winery (Rutherford, CA.)
If you want to add some romance to your Napa Valley trip, make sure to book a wine tasting at Peju Province Winery in Rutherford. This organic-certified, family-owned estate winery is heralded for its beautiful European style architecture, picturesque garden setting, and unique artwork.
In addition, the limited-production winery boasts a range of delicious, award-winning red and white wines, including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and more.
When visiting the winery, one of the first spectacles you’ll notice is a magnificent 50-foot tower. “The Peju Tower holds the distinction of being one of the tallest and most unique buildings in the Napa Valley.” In addition to taking in the beauty of the Peju Tower, visitors can enjoy wine tastings within the tower and inside the contemporary Art Gallery.
The Tasting Room Ambassadors warmly welcome visitors by sharing the history of the winery, in addition to guiding guests through a wine tasting. Guests learn the process of how each wine is made, in addition to hearing the history of how this winery came to be.
If, after visiting Peju Province Winery, you’re motivated to join their wine club, you’ll enjoy a plethora of benefits including invitations to their special events (such as food & wine pairings and holiday parties), exclusive access to Club Peju only wines, and complimentary wine tastings.
V. Sattui Winery (St. Helena, CA.)
Being one of the most popular wineries in Napa Valley, V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena is definitely a must-see place when visiting this region.
Tyffani Peters-Sedgwick (PR, Marketing & Brand Manager for V. Sattui Winery) states, “Vittorio Sattui started the business in 1885 after emigrating from Genoa, Italy. The law-abiding Vittorio was forced to shut down when Prohibition went into effect, and the winery would lay dormant until 1976, when Vittorio’s great-grandson, Dario, would realize his dream of resurrecting the family business in the town of St. Helena in Napa Valley.”
She continues, “We have been named Winery of the Year from the Winemaker Challenge, the Critic’s Challenge, and the Sommelier Challenge. We’ve had two wines named as Wines of the Year: Our 2012 Mt. Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon received the distinction at the Monterey Wine Competition, and our 2011 Paradiso at the Critic’s Challenge International Wine Competition.”
Aside from producing 60 wines (like its best-selling Gamay Rouge), V. Sattui Winery is also known for its on-site gourmet deli (with fresh food made from scratch), enabling visitors to enjoy lunch in the tree-covered picnic area. In addition, weddings and special events (such as the Barrel Tasting Party, Harvest Ball, and Crush Party) are hosted throughout the year on the winery’s beautiful estate.
From wine tasting and tours to memorable adventures and activities, a trip to Napa Valley is the ultimate way to live the good life and have fun along the journey.
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