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What Not to Do in Napa Valley

by Christina Henry

Go for the harvest

At the most popular times of year, there are crowds everywhere: in the wineries, in the restaurants, and stuck in gridlock. Early fall (September and October) draws hordes who come to witness the full spectrum of harvest activities. Summer is also prime tourist season, plus the peak wedding period, and it can be seriously hot to boot. All this adds up to one thing: buzzkill.

Reap the benefits of shoulder season

Spring is the pinnacle of perfection. The hills are a vibrant green, and the vineyards' gardens are a riot of color. The mornings and evenings still retain a bit of bite, but by afternoon, the sun has warmed the valley. You can expect smaller crowds, more attention in the tasting rooms, significantly lower prices at hotels, easier dinner reservations, less traffic, and less-grouchy locals. The late fall, after the harvest, is a little darker and wetter, but the wine country definitely has a whole new charm around Thanksgiving, when the leaves are golden, the air turns cool, and residents venture off their properties for the first time in months.

Next: Get into the collective spirit >

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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