>Off the Beaten Path>Napa Valley -- When's the Best Time to Visit (nuthin to do with running, just eating and drinking wine!)
All you wine lovers out there, when's the best time to visit Napa Valley? I'm thinking of getting a special present that involves reservations at French Laundry (restaurant) but would like the recipient to get the most out of the trip since this person is a huge wine lover. I haven't checked to see how far in advance these reservations have to be, but I'm willing to create this gift around the best time to visit the area.
Here are some thoughts...
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I love late winter/early spring in that area! Any other time, especially on weekends, it can get downright insane in terms of crowds and traffic. Plus in cool weather there's nothing like taking a mudbath in Calistoga. Still, I've never not enjoyed a trip there. If the traffic is too much for you when you're there, you can always hop over the hills to Sonoma (worth a visit on its own).
I hear French Laundry isn't as hard to get into as it used to be. Since you're also a couple of foodies, make a trip to the CIA (Culinary Institute of America), they offer short (30 min) cooking demos on a drop-in basis and you can tour the grounds of the "castle" http://www.ciachef.edu/california/
I agree with Arla. September and October are very popular times to visit, and with reason - it's crush time, it's not as hot as peak summer, etc. But that also means crowds, traffic, and difficulty getting reservations. November or March would probably be my picks. I've also done the winter, and while it can be very nice, and is certainly less crowded, if you end up there in the middle of a storm cycle (a week of rain type of thing) you really do miss a lot -- so many of the wineries have really lovely outdoor areas/gardens, and there are parks, opportunities for bike riding and hikes, etc. Impossible to predict, of course -- we had very little rain this January, but plenty in March -- but if you're looking at statistics, Jan and Feb are much more likely to be wet.
(also, on the eating front: more of a root vegetable and stew person, or asparagus and spring peas person? Or totally sold on heirloom tomatoes? Might be one way to make a seasonal decision)
thanks for all the suggestions! Can't wait to make this present happen!!
I was there for St. Patricks Day once, and , it was beautiful. Green, lush, and so pretty. Amazing place to visit.
The husband & I went to Sonoma during Thanksgiving week one year, and it was GREAT - no crowds, beautiful scenery since the leaves on the vines were turning, and cheaper rates on lodging. Sure, it was a little chilly to sit outside and drink wine, but we managed to suck it up.
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