The Best Time to Visit Napa Valley and Sonoma
With some of the best wineries in the world, outstanding weather, and breathtaking scenery, the Napa Valley and Sonoma regions of Northern California is a wine lover’s paradise — no matter the time of year you visit! From spring and summer to harvest season and the holidays, you’ll find something that will make you fall in love with Wine Country. With that being said, there are benefits to each season and unique happenings at different times of the year. Let’s take a look at some of the annual highlights so you can figure out when the best time is to visit Napa Valley and Sonoma is for you.
Grape Harvest Season in Napa Valley and Sonoma
The magical annual grape harvest season in Napa and Sonoma customarily occurs from August through mid-November! Timing does depend on a variety of factors, like the weather — so we recommend planning a visit in September or October if you want to make sure you hit the peak time. During these months, you’ll find that the entire Wine Country region comes alive. Harvest workers work long hours to deliver the ripened grapes to the crush areas, where other crews sort through the grapes and prepare them for fermentation.
If you want to join in the fun, you’ll find events during this time of year that will allow you to do just that! Roll up your sleeves and pull up your pant legs for traditional grape stomping. Experience the pre- and post-crust parties with wine tastings, gourmet food, and live music! Depending on the year, you may even find weekend-long harvest camps where you can learn all about the winemaking process and participate in harvesting the grapes from the vines.
While visiting at this time is ideal for experiencing the beautiful weather and the diverse range of activities, you will find that this is the busiest time of year — wineries and vineyards are definitely bustling with more people.
Spring in Napa Valley and Sonoma
The spring months, from March to May, are an absolutely gorgeous time to visit Napa Valley and Sonoma! Temperatures begin warming up, and the mustard flowers are blooming throughout the region, turning the fields of the vineyards and valleys a vibrant yellow. As for the weather, you’ll find a mix of sunny and rainy days. During this time, you can expect mild temperatures during the day in the 60s and 70s, perfect for attending all of the food and wine events. Nights cool off to the mid-40s and 50s — making for a fabulous excuse to relax in the hot tub at Tranquil Calistoga Retreat, Private Wine Country Retreat, or Art And Wine Estate.
Some of our most favorite annual spring events are even returning this year! For instance, the Sonoma International Film Festival will be back, just modified. You’ll find live drive-ins on three different nights with food trucks — these will take place on the 24th, 26th, and 27th. Alongside this, the Virtual Film Festival is from March 24th to the 28th. You’ll find their catalog of films already available online for preview and preview.
If you’re looking for the Passport to Dry Creek Valley in 2021, we’re sad to say they will be skipping a year. However, it’s not too early to begin planning for the Passport to Dry Creek Valley next year! It is tentatively scheduled for April 23rd to 24th, and tickets should be available in November.
Summer in Napa Valley and Sonoma
We’re blessed with warm and sunny days during the summer months, from June to August! It’s a popular time for families or those in college to visit since school and work schedules will allow time off to travel. Because of this, you’ll find it is one of the busier times of the year. With the vineyards lush and green, it marks the season for winemakers to begin looking for the first clusters of grapes starting to form. You’ll find the daily highs are now reaching the mid-80s, and the nights are mild in the 50s. Plus, rain is rare during the summer season! No wonder why this is one of the most popular times to visit Napa Valley and Sonoma.
The summer season brings a lively atmosphere with a wide range of events — think special wine tastings, gourmet food, music festivals, and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy! Notable annual events include Fourth of July celebrations, the Festival Napa Valley in mid-late July, Music in the Vineyards, and the Country Summer Music Festival.
Another popular summer event that happens in Wine Country is the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon! Named one of the “Top 7 Most Scenic Half Marathons in the US” by Forbes, this is certainly not an event to miss. As of now, they are assessing the ability to hold the in-person race in July with the County of Sonoma. We recommend checking their website for the most up-to-date information.
Fall in Napa Valley and Sonoma
The fall season is just as exceptional! Foliage rivals the North Carolina mountains, with the vineyards turning from green to red and gold. As you saw above, the harvest season is one of the biggest draws to the area during the fall months, from September to November. But, there’s a lot more to see and experience during this delightful time of year! Temperatures shift from the 70s – 80s during the day to as low as the 40s at night. Like summer, autumn months do not typically have much rain.
Events consist of the Sonoma Harvest Music Festival in late September, BottleRock, and the renowned Napa Valley Film Festival in November. Late-fall also brings the Thanksgiving season, which means incredible food and wine pairings only moments away from our vacation rentals! We missed the annual Healdsburg Turkey Trot last year, but we’re hoping it will return in 2021.
Winter in Napa Valley and Sonoma
Winter happens to be one of our most treasured times of the year to visit the Sonoma and Napa region. It’s less crowded, and the scenery is just as breathtaking. Plus, the myriad of family-friendly activities scheduled every year and copious amounts of fine wines to explore make for a magical holiday retreat! The weather tends to be milder than other popular destinations, with daytime temperatures normally between the 50s and 60s.
You’ll find an abundance of holiday events throughout the Wine Country to partake in — with a mix of wine, food, and festivities! Our favorites include the complimentary carriage rides at Holidays in Yountville and going to browse over 200 beautifully decorated trees at Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree Grove!
Speaking of warmer weather during the winter months… if you’re thinking of a tropical wine escape, we still have you covered. For some reason you haven’t seen our announcement already, we’ve expanded our offerings into Hawaii! Don’t think of the Hawaiian Islands when someone mentions a wine getaway? You’re not alone. Many are surprised to find out there are a handful of incredible wineries in Hawaii.
Want to Visit Napa Valley and Sonoma?
We hope this guide helped you get a better understanding of when the best time to visit Napa Valley and Sonoma would be for you! When you’re ready to travel to Napa Valley, Sonoma Country, and beyond, we’re here to make your travel dreams a reality! Simply fill out the form, and we’ll be in touch with you soon. Or, if you have questions, our team would love to help! Give us a call or send us an email.