POSTED ON April 18, 2009 | IN Tasting Rooms | BY joe

The spring season is one of our favorite times to visit the Napa Valley. It is a cause for celebration as wildflowers and bud break signal another growing season in the Napa Valley. But this year things are a little different as spring arrives. The economy has changed the dynamics, and how it will play out nobody knows. Maybe more visitors will flock to the Napa Valley from the greater Bay Area, as folks substitute weekend retreats and put off vacations to far-off destinations. What a perfect way to relieve some economic stress by taking a few days of solitude and rest in the beautiful spring atmosphere of the Napa Valley.

We thought we would help you with some planning ideas. Besides making your lodging reservation well in advance, there are plenty of other helpful hints to make your trip a success. Make that restaurant decision and call and book your dinner reservations. The popular restaurants, even during the week, will be booked at the most popular eating times between 7 and 9. Decide on what wineries you want to visit. We think three wineries a day is reasonable and will ensure a leisurely pace without leaving you exhausted for the evening’s activities. If you are not sure which wineries to visit, use our handy Trip Planning tool. Here you can find wineries in the Napa Valley according to your likes and interests. It will even make you a map and give directions to avoid getting lost. Try some wineries that are small and family owned. If you have never played Bocce Ball before, try it. It is fun and relaxing and anyone can play. The Trip Planner has a list of Bocce wineries.

Plan for a picnic lunch at least one of the days during your stay. There is something very enjoyable about a picnic lunch at a winery. It will leave you refreshed and joyful. Bring a cooler so you can buy your lunch at a deli and keep it safe while you hunt for the perfect picnic spot. You may not want to spend the entire day at wineries each day of your trip, so think about a hike, a massage, or leisurely stroll shopping in Yountville or Calistoga.

It is always fun to keep track of the wines you taste at each winery. Ask for the tasting notes and try and see what your nose and palate can detect. Rate your wines in some fashion. Maybe select a favorite at each winery or try giving each wine a number rating. Keep it low key and compare notes later with your partner and friends. By the way, bringing in a spit cup is a very excellent idea. This way you can drive and taste but not drink any wine. Whatever you decide to do on your getaway, enjoy and rejuvenate. That is what the wine country is all about.

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