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How to Avoid the Tourist Crowds in the Napa Valley


Written by:

Joe Becerra

Last updated:

Cafe Sarafornia best breakfas

The Napa Valley has more tourists visit each year than does Disneyland. Over five million people come annually to enjoy food, wine, and good times in the Napa Valley. If you are planning a trip to the Napa Valley between now and through harvest time, beware this is peak tourist season. But for the savvy wine traveler, there are ways to avoid the huge crowds at tasting rooms and the long lines of traffic on Highway 29 and still enjoy a restful time in the Napa Valley.

How to Avoid the Tourist Crowds in the Napa Valley

If possible schedule your getaway from Tuesday through Thursday. You won’t avoid all the crowds but things are much quieter during this time of the week.

There are two main roads that parallel the Valley, Highway 29 and the Silverado Trail. The Silverado Trail is much less congested and there are plenty of wineries along the route. Silverado Wine Trail

Avoiding crowds in the Napa Valley

Empty picnic tables at Robert Sinskey Vineyards
during a mid-week period
The Carneros district that runs along the southern border of Napa and Sonoma County is always less crowded than the Napa Valley. Carneros wineries offer many exciting wines especially Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and sparkling wines. Try visiting Bouchaine, Larson Family Winery, McKenzie-Mueller (call ahead) and Ceja Vineyards (appointment). These wineries are all in the backroads of Carneros.

Calistoga is the town at the very northern end of the Napa Valley. It may not have the chicness or suave of Yountville or St. Helena, but there are fewer crowds in cozy Calistoga and several fantastic wineries such as Summers, Envy, Zahtila, and Vincent Arroyo, all north of the main street in Calistoga. Drive to Calistoga along the Silverado Trail and avoid Highway 29 altogether. Driving through St. Helena on HY 29 can be a nightmare.

Calistoga less crowded than Yountville or St. Helena

Downtown Calistoga – Lincoln Avenue
There are a host of wineries that are open by appointment only and because of this they schedule a small number of visitors at a time. Here are a few: Tres Sabores, Honig, Chappellet, and Frog’s Leap. Make sure that you call several days before to schedule one or more tours and tastings.

Try the wineries on the crossroads of the Valley. Most visitors just motor along Highway 29 and never venture off on one of the crossroads between Highway 29 and the Silverado Trail. Try Raymond on Zinfandel Lane or Trefethen on Oak Knoll.

See our list of secret and hidden Napa Valley wineries.

One very important tip: You may be able to avoid the tasting room crowds with our tips and tricks but always be sure to call well ahead to find lodging and make your lunch and dinner reservations.

  • Joe Becerra

    Joe Becerra has been traveling to wine country and enjoying wine since 1965. He is a retired educator, and now have the time the opportunity to share his wine travel experiences through this Website.