The harvest is over and when the fall colors end the slow season in the Napa Valley begins. This year could be the bleakest and slowest on record. Twelve percent unemployment rate, cutting back, building a savings account, spending less than $20 on a bottle of wine, not going out to dinner. All add up to a dismal time for businesses that depend on tourists traveling to wine country. One alternative for the budget-minded traveler is to consider a daycation to the Napa Valley. You save on lodging, meals, and still have a great time.
The November 2009 issue of Sunset magazine has a blurb about spending the day in the town of Napa visiting tasting rooms. But what is the fun of that? If you do that you don’t experience the beauty, the peace and tranquility of the vineyards, the mountains, and the Valley. Sure, if you are really pressed for time, do the Napa tasting room scene, but then you’ll miss what the Napa Valley is all about.
Here are my suggestions for a day trip to the Napa Valley. Plan on spending 4 to 6 hours relaxing in wine country. Map out your plan beforehand so you don’t waste any time looking for a certain winery or deli or whatever. Our Trip-Planner will help you seek out the type of wineries that interest you. If you have never been to a wine country before, think about a winery tour. Take a tour if you have not been on one for a while. One that is free and really good is Frog’s Leap but you must make a prior appointment. It takes about a full hour along with some tasting.
Clos Du Val on the Silverado Trail
If the weather is good, bring a picnic lunch and find a winery with a picnic area. We have a full list of delis and picnic areas to help you find the perfect location. If you are looking for a good lunch spot not too far north, try the Rutherford Grill or Don Giovanni or, in Yountville, Redd, Bouchon, or Hurley’s.
For those who don’t have time to plan and want more guidance, here is my choice for the perfect daycation in the Napa Valley. Make this little loop from Highway 29 to Silverado Trail and back. Take Highway 29 to Oak Knoll Crossroad and visit family-owned Trefethen Vineyards . Then continue on Oak Knoll to the Silverado Trail. Head north and visit Clos du Val and/or Robert Sinskey. Both have perfect picnic areas and delicious wines. Continue on Silverado Trail and turn left at Conn Creek Road to Frog’s Leap for your winery tour and tasting. Be sure to call for an appointment.. Then head west on Rutherford Road to HWY 29. Head south on HWY 29 to Yountville and take a walk along this great little wine town. You can have lunch here and shop at the V Market Place 1870. Be sure to have a designated driver or bring along your spit cup to stay safe.
Wineries need to get involved and be more proactive in getting tourists to the wine country during the slow time. I say to the wineries waive all tasting fees during the week and maybe even on weekends. Offer some enticing wine discounts on wines. Bring back the day crowds!