Think of Napa Valley in winter as a fine wine. You wouldn’t rush through the bottle, would you? No, you’d savor every last drop, taking note of all the glorious flavors, aromas and tannins. That’s exactly how one should tour Napa during the winter months. From November through early March, the village squares are less crowded and the vineyards are quieter. It’s a peaceful time in the valley where one can appreciate the simple things in life while still getting to experience festivals and foods unique to the region. Here are five reasons why you should visit Napa in winter.
1. You’ll beat the crowds.
This is the most obvious perk of off-season travel, but still worth mentioning. Visiting Napa in winter will do wonders for your bank account … well, compared to high-season, at least! Not only will you save on flights and accommodation, but many wineries offer discounts as well. Plus, you’ll have no trouble snagging spots at popular events that would otherwise sell out quickly in the summer. Since you won’t have to worry too much about the crowds, take your time going from vineyard to vineyard and opt for an interactive experience like wine tasting or splurge on a decadent dinner.
2. There’s a Truffle Festival.
Who doesn’t love truffles? The 2016 Napa Truffle Festival, about to mark its sixth anniversary, is slated for Jan. 15-18. During the four-day event, the American Truffle Company will bring together some of the world's top truffle experts (is there anything cooler?) and chefs. The Westin Verasa Napa is a partner and is offering discounted hotel rates for attendees. The festival closes with a marketplace where visitors can shop for farm-fresh produce, specialty food products and, of course, truffles! Wineries get involved, too. Last year, Peju hosted a truffle lunch prepared by Michelin-star chef Tony Esnault.
3. Napa Valley has a Restaurant Month.
Usually, Napa Restaurant Week takes place in January, but this past winter, in 2015, the festivities moved to February. While Napa is definitely a mecca for wine connoisseurs, it also has an impressive number of Michelin-star restaurants (more per capita than any other wine region in the world). Napa, Yountville, St. Helena/Rutherford and Calistoga are just a few spots where diners can feast on local fare. Some restaurants offer two courses, while others are set up for a four-course feast. Several spots offer a wine pairing for an additional cost. Come hungry! There’s lots of food to go around.
4. You can get a wine passport.
If you’re one of those people who love counting the stamps in their passport (full disclosure: I am!) then you’ll want to swing by Calistoga. The Calistoga Winter Passport gives visitors a little extra push to head north. Discounts are as deep as 50 percent off accommodations ranging from deluxe hotels to cozy B&Bs, spa services and wine tasting. In fact, wine tastings are completely free at 14 different wineries. The passport also offers discounts at local restaurants and stores. Buy your passport online and use it through early February. Passports for the 2015-2016 season cost $50 (value: $260).
5. It’s cabernet season!
Along with winter comes cool temperatures and hearty meals, which means one thing: cabernet! It's the perfect time to pair a glass of cabernet sauvignon with a flavorful meal. To celebrate this special time, there are festivals, events and promotions to get you in the sauvignon mood.
Enjoy all the varietals that Peju, a family-owned winery in Napa Valley, California, has to offer. We invite you to explore our website for more information about experiencing our wines and events.