Just one hour north of San Francisco, this beautiful region is a gem for holidaymakers in search of luxury. Napa Valley is home to all of life’s great indulgences. Think world-class wines, incredible food, the most sumptuous spas and 5-star hotels, as well as outdoor adventures to be experienced all in one place. This is the destination of dreams for travellers who want it all.
Fans of gastronomy will have the chance to enjoy unparalleled food and wine pairing in one of the 400+ wineries located here. But despite the area’s huge success and prolific wine production, the towns and villages never lose their old-world charm. Tradition remains important in this corner of the globe, with 95% of all wineries being family-owned and going back generations.
But luxury in Napa doesn’t just end at the vineyard. This area is home to magnificent castles, prestigious golfing resorts, tranquil fishing lakes, and much more. Whether you love to cycle or like to unwind with a yoga class, there’s so much to do in terms of sports and activities. And from the moment you arrive in one of our featured hotels, you’ll be treated like a VIP. From Michelin-starred dining to hot air balloon rides, we can arrange just about anything you desire. Plus, with the wonderful Californian weather, there really isn’t a bad time to visit the Napa Valley wine country in the USA.
Begin your tour in the stunning and trendy city of San Francisco. Utterly unique and famed for its laid-back and liberal attitude, it’s a destination that captures the hearts of many. Within an hour of leaving the centre, you’ll be on the Napa wine trail, making it the perfect base for discovering California’s best wine varietals.
The city is also home to more than 4,000 restaurants, making it a great place to discover coastal cuisine such as Dungeness crab or bay shrimp. And when it comes to shopping, sightseeing and nightlife, San Francisco will not disappoint. Within the Napa wine country, you will find a number of picturesque towns. Don’t miss the tiny Oakville and Rutherford AVAs, both offering spellbinding vineyard views. You’ll also be made to feel welcome by the locals of Calistoga, one of the friendliest spots with chic country hotels and charming B&Bs, exquisite wineries and family-run restaurants.
To witness outstanding natural beauty, take a hike in the Stags Leap District AVA, where you can get a close look at the basalt palisade. This former horse trail is also home to some fantastic wineries where you can try their top-quality Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine.
With a dry Mediterranean climate, the Napa Valley is not only ideal for growing wine grapes, but it’s also perfect for a sun-soaked holiday. The long growing season is marked by sunny, warm days with plenty of sunshine, making it perfect for hiking, cycling or al fresco dining. The hottest time of year is during the summer months, but this can also be the busiest time of year for the many towns and villages in the region.
Spring (March to May) is a good time to visit when temperatures are slightly milder. As is the fall season, when the weather is lovely and pleasant for outdoor activities. But do bear in mind that vineyards and wineries can get very busy from August through to October, as this is when the region goes through its harvest. Expect crowds, higher prices, and hotels getting booked up in advance.
The famous Napa Cab is likely to be the first thing you drink when you arrive here. Napa’s great Cabernets came from America’s obsession with French wine, in particular the wines from Bordeaux. They began importing Bordeaux grapes (including Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) decades ago and learned French winemaking techniques. Today, Napa’s Cabernet Sauvignon is loved around the world, but of course there are many other varietals to enjoy.
From ripe and velvety Merlot wines and silky, seductive Pinot Noir to the spicy Zinfandel, red wines are among some the best in this region. For white wine fans, there’s plenty of Sauvignon Blanc to be tried, known for its light and fresh palate. There are also some wonderful Chardonnay wines, which tend to be rich, buttery and full-bodied. If you prefer sparkling varieties, Napa’s bubbles won’t disappoint either. Made with méthode champenoise, these sparkling wines are a good alternative to French Champagne.
But whether you prefer bold and powerful, or light and elegant, there’s something for everyone in this region. And you’ll get to try a huge selection when you tour the fantastic family-run wineries and boutique venues that line the wine trail.
Some of the best towns to stay in include Napa, Yountville, Calistoga, and St. Helena. In Napa, the principal town of the county, you will have a choice of some of the best luxury hotels and spa resorts.
Over in Calistoga, there’s an even mix of hotels and B&B lodgings. Whatever accommodation you prefer, there’s something to suit everyone. In St. Helena, we can recommend a fantastic spa and golf hotel that has access to nearby vineyards.
The Napa Valley is without a doubt one of the best places to eat and drink in California. Home to the Slow Food Movement, this whole state offers a unique twist on gastronomy. Napa has more Michelin stars per capita than any other wine region in the world, making it a dream destination for food and wine connoisseurs.
One of the best Michelin-starred restaurants that we would recommend is The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena. The chefs there create modern American cuisine with menus that positively impact the Napa Valley. This is done by sourcing local ingredients, and by garnering relationships with artisans, growers and foragers.
If the sustainable food movement interests you, we would also recommend a farm to table food tour around the Napa Valley.
Wine Paths combines unforgettable and sustainable foodie experiences with world-class wines for a luxury gastronomy getaway in the Napa Valley. Find out more about this region and other regions in California with our local travel expert Shelle.