After the frenzied summer months in Napa — endless food and wine festivals, a flurry of outdoor concerts and jam packed restaurants and tasting rooms — you may wonder: are there still any things to do in Napa when summer is over?
The answer: definitely yes! As the sweltering summer heat dies down and the cool winds start blowing the grape leaves as they turn golden, fall months may not be as busy as the summer months but it doesn’t mean a slowdown of activities.
In fact, the fall season may be the best time to go to Napa Valley due to many obvious reasons. Aside from the “buttoned-up” weather and lesser crowds, the valley floor will be covered with a gorgeous combination of green, yellow, red and orange foliage that herald the coming of the fall season. Plus, fall also means it’s harvest time — that’s where the grapes are fully ripe and ready for picking and making wine.
If you plan to visit Napa Valley in during the autumn season, here are the following fall activities you shouldn’t miss (besides drinking wine):
1. Have a picnic at Charles Krug Winery
Every September, Charles Krug Winery holds “Picnic on the Lawn” which kicks off every harvest season. Since 1951, “Picnic on the Lawn” has been the annual tradition from Napa’s oldest winery. Wine and food buffs gather together to sample and enjoy Charles Krug’s newly released wines as well as Italian-inspired fare, plus great live music to boot.
2. Celebrate Thanksgiving
If you want to celebrate Thanksgiving away from home, Napa Valley seems to be an ideal place to do it. You’ll be lucky to find restaurants, bars, cafes and of course wineries to be open on Thanksgiving weekend. Whether you are wishing for a Michelin-starred dinner or looking for family dinners, craving for home-style roasted turkeys or going for something non-traditional, you’ll never find a shortage of pigging out options in Napa during Thanksgiving.
3. Participate in a grape-stomping event
You’ll never leave Napa in autumn unless you try to get down and dirty by stomping grapes! It’s not just for a joke, but grape-stomping is actually an old and traditional step (pardon the pun) in turning grapes into wine. Nevertheless, this will certainly bring loads of fun for you and your friends! Don’t forget to bring your best selfie game while happily treading on ripe grapes inside a bucket.
Grape-stomping events are mostly held in certain venues such as Round Pond Estate, Grgich Hills, Villa Ragazzi, Rutherford Hill Winery, Raymond Vineyards and Judd’s Hill Winery, among others. Make sure to plan for this one-of-a-kind experience ahead because most grape-stomping events are arranged only by appointment.
4. Go on a hot air balloon ride
To really take advantage of Napa’s glorious golden colors during the fall season, take the views up in the sky — literally! Hot air balloon rides are done most ideally during early in the morning, especially just after dawn. It’s where the winds are stable and the temperatures are cool — the best time of the day to fly a hot air balloon. Plus, the seasonably cool weather may mean extra minutes to enjoy your hot air balloon journey!
A lot of tourists swear that fall in Napa is at its most beautiful because of the striking natural combination of green, yellow, orange, red and golden colors in the foliage. You will surely be enchanted by the fairy-tale like the beauty of the Napa Valley while enjoying uninterrupted, panoramic views of it from the hot air balloon in flight.
Balloons Above the Valley (BATV) operates all year round and will be glad to accommodate guests should they want a hot air balloon flight in the fall months. Guests will also be rewarded with the comfort and luxury of a chauffeured limo that transports them directly to the Wine Country, as well as a delicious after flight brunch with a sparkling wine.
These are only just a few of the things to do in Napa during fall months. Of course, there are also the exquisite wine tastings, endless sightseeing, food, wine, and arts and culture festivals, as well as other activities that celebrate the colors of the fall season and the bounty harvest in Napa.