Follow these five very simple tips to help you escape Napa Valley crowds that will flock the tasting rooms this coming weekend or any weekend for that matter. Most folks are going to be locked into Highway 29 from the town of Napa and into St. Helena. That is where most of the action is located in terms of tasting rooms, lodging and eateries.
Hit the tasting rooms before noon
Most of the tasting rooms in the Napa Valley open between 10 and 11 am. The busiest time for the tasting room is in the middle of the afternoon. If you start early, you won’t have nearly as many visitors and tourists in the tasting room. Wineries that are along Highway 29 are the busiest because they are the most accessible. Tips 2 through 5 will take you to wineries off the beaten track, so save those for later in the day.
Hit the wineries behind Calistoga
North of Calistoga are a set of beautiful wineries along with gorgeous scenery. Most tourists do not venture that far up the Valley. They generally travel between Yountville and St. Helena. The most popular winery in this area is Chateau Montelena. The other wineries are less known and therefore less busy. See the Calistoga Wine Trail.
Head up to the Chiles Valley
Two small and interesting wineries await visitors on a trip up Sage Canyon Road, off the Silverado Trail on the east side of the Napa Valley. Follow Sage Canyon up the Road for 7 miles and visit the Nichelini Winery. It is well over 100 years old. The winery has a picnic area and Bocce Courts. Continue on Sage Canyon for a very short distance and find Chiles Valley/Pope Valley Road. Continue for 14 miles to the north to another great, funky winery, Pope Valley Winery.
How about the Mount Veeder Wineries?
Mount Veeder wineries are certainly less traveled, even though they are close to the town of Napa. Hess Collection Winery is the most popular, but the others on the trail are less popular and require an appointment. Call ahead the day before and you are more than likely to get a spot during the weekend. Wineries on Mount Veeder
Two St. Helena Wineries
Just at the base of the Mayacamus Mountains on the west side of the Napa Valley are two hidden gems, Tres Sabores Winery and Flora Springs. Tres Sabores is located on South Whitehall Lane. Julie Johnson is the owner and winemaker. The vineyards are certified organic, so you can get a look at how this is accomplished on a tour and tasting. It is open by appointment only. Flora Springs is off West Zinfandel Lane and in a secluded spot. To visit, an appointment is required, but it is worth the visit and the $45 per person for the tour and tasting. Flora Springs will be closed on Memorial Day.
Have fun and don’t forget to have a designated driver.