Napa Valley continues to be in the media spotlight — Architectural Digest, Town & Country, and AFAR magazines each featured the destination as their top choice to visit in 2019.
Just a short drive from San Francisco, Napa Valley is one of the most well-known wine regions in the world — it’s also one of the smallest. The valley floor is just 30 miles long and five miles across at its widest point.
Most don’t realize Napa Valley consists of unique and distinctive towns, including (from north to south) Calistoga, St. Helena, Rutherford/Oakville, Yountville, the city of Napa, American Canyon, and the outdoor recreation area of Lake Berryessa.
“Cabernet Season” (November through April) is considered the best time to visit, since harvest is over and the pace slows down — providing visitors with greater access to winemakers. This year, the season kicks off with the Napa Valley Film Festival from Nov. 13–18, 2019, followed by the Napa Truffle Festival, Jan. 18–21.
Napa Valley Restaurant Week is always held the last week in January (Jan. 26 through Feb. 2 in 2020) and features more than 50 restaurants participating in prix fixe lunch and dinner options. The Napa Valley Marathon and Half-Marathon takes place on March 1, 2020, and will take runners on the famed Silverado Trail from Calistoga to Napa, passing vineyards and some of the most world-renowned wineries along the way.
Cabernet Season events conclude with “Arts in April,” which features art fairs and exhibitions throughout the valley.
Beyond its more than 400 wineries, the Napa Valley is also home to art, film, music, and architecture on both intimate and grand scales, providing visitors with a legendary cultural experience. As the country’s first agricultural preserve, the Napa Valley has more than 53,000 acres of protected land and offers ideal hiking, biking, and paddling opportunities for visitors of all physical abilities to enjoy.
What’s new in Napa Valley?
In January 2020, The Four Seasons Resort and Residences in Calistoga will begin accepting reservations for its 85 guest rooms and suites, and 20 residences. This past spring, The Estate Yountville unveiled its multi-million-dollar renovation and rebranding of Vintage House and Hotel Villagio, and St. Helena’s Wine Country Inn and Cottages completed an extensive renovation of all guest rooms.
This past spring, the owners of Peju Province Winery opened the new Calmere Estate Winery and Tasting Room in Napa’s Carneros region. Set on a 100-acre estate, the name Calmere (pronounced cahlm-air) comes from the French words for calm (calme) and sea (mer), reflecting the region’s calming views of the San Francisco Bay.
In March, Louis M. Martini Winery in St. Helena — originally built in 1933, making it one of the first five wineries in Napa Valley to open after the repeal of Prohibition — unveiled its historic 10-year restoration, which was overseen by Napa Valley architect Howard Backen.
Finally, in late 2018, the cult label Prisoner Wine Company opened its first tasting outpost in St. Helena. Salvaged iron and wood from the original San Francisco-Oakland Bay were incorporated into the retro-futuristic space, with accents that include a life-size skeleton installation and a diesel tank repurposed as a chandelier.
Beyond the wine
While visiting wineries remains the most popular visitor experience in Napa Valley, craft breweries and taprooms are also gaining steam, with nine breweries (and counting) calling the region home. The region’s winemakers, winery workers, and restaurateurs not only patronize these breweries and enjoy the brews, but many of these personalities are actually crafting the beers aside from their “day jobs.”
At Mad Fritz Brewing Co. in St. Helena, Nile Zacherle and Whitney Fisher — both accomplished winemakers —are creating extremely high-quality brews at Mad Fritz, including stouts, IPAs, lagers, porters, and more.
For those who want a more “active” beer experience, Active Wine Adventure’s “Hike & Beer Tour” includes a moderate hike through hills and forests with breathtaking views of Napa Valley. Each hike ends with a visit to a local microbrewery with a few glasses of Napa Valley craft beer paired with lunch.
There is also a new “Craft Brew Tour,” which begins and ends in Downtown Napa and features stops at three breweries. The tour includes a brew-and-food pairing, tasting flights, an in-depth tour curated by a local brew expert, and a personal growler.
Both first-time and repeat visitors are encouraged to stop in the Napa Valley Welcome Center, located at 600 Main St. along the riverfront in downtown Napa. The Welcome Center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers concierge services, Napa Valley magazines, maps, brochures, wine tasting passes, and a mercantile shop featuring locally sourced gift items. For additional information, visit www.visitnapavalley.com.
SOURCE: Visit Napa Valley, [email protected]