The Dos and Don’ts of Wine Tasting in Napa’s Vineyards

The Napa Valley has beautiful scenery, outdoor recreational activities, and friendly people. It’s also–of course–the home to more than 400 wineries. No matter what Napa vineyard you visit, you’ll be guaranteed fantastic wine and an unforgettable experience. However, there are some dos and don’ts you should be aware of so you can maximize your time and enjoy your wine-tasting experience to the fullest. Learn more about wine-tasting best practices, and get ready to savor some of the best wine in the world!

Don’t try to visit too many wineries a day

It makes sense that you’d try to pack in as many wineries a day as possible, considering the vast number there are to visit. However, this is almost always a mistake. When you try to visit too many, you’ll feel rushed, won’t be able to fully enjoy any of the locations, and will likely end up feeling queasy the next day. Those in the know suggest putting a maximum of four to five wineries per day on your schedule.

Have a plan

It can be easy to get overwhelmed and feel like you’re missing out if you don’t create a plan. Do your research before you make the trip and choose the wineries you most want to visit. You can find maps of Napa wineries online and use these to group together those located near each other. Remember that many wineries close early, so plan on making your first stop around 10 a.m. and the last no later than 4 p.m.

Not much of a planner? Consider hopping on the Napa Valley Wine Train or book a guided tour to take the stress of planning off your shoulders and ensure you hit the best spots.

Add boutique wineries to your list

There are plenty of big-name Napa wineries you’ll likely want to visit, including Robert Mondavi, Beringer, and Sterling Vineyards. However, don’t make the mistake of only visiting the big-name locations. There are plenty of smaller boutique wineries that also create amazing wine and have unforgettable tasting experiences.

Some to make sure you have on your list include Baldacci Family Vineyards (best known for its single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon), Crosby Roamann (you can’t beat the fun-tasting atmosphere in this former abandoned warehouse), and Nichelini Winery (the oldest family-owned vineyard in Napa).

Don’t forget to make reservations

It’s smart to make reservations for your tasting no matter what time of year you visit Napa, but it’s a must if you’re going during the busy summer and fall seasons. If you don’t make reservations, you could end up standing in line for hours or not be able to get into some of your top choices. Booking a reservation will ensure you get right in and will result in a better experience for all. Remember that most reservations will only be held for approximately 15 minutes–so don’t be late!

Plan for food

Drinking wine on an empty stomach is never a good idea. Though many wineries in Napa will have food, it’s always good to plan ahead instead of winging it. Many who do a wine-tasting day pack their picnics to ensure they can eat a satisfying meal whenever they get hungry. Others build a lunch stop into their schedule. Some fantastic restaurants serving lunch include Contimo Provisions (delicious sandwiches and salads), Angele Restaurant & Bar (a downtown favorite serving locally sourced Italian favorites), and Kitchen Door, which serves various global dishes, small bites, and pizza.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

If you’re a wine newbie, you may be afraid to show your lack of knowledge when visiting a Napa vineyard. This is a mistake, though, because the whole point is to be curious and to learn and everyone working at wineries will be eager to share their knowledge. Don’t be afraid to try new varieties of wine, ask questions about the wine-making process, inquire about the different aromas and flavors in each wine you try, and learn as much as you can from the experts you’ll have the opportunity to talk to. This is your golden opportunity to learn from some of the best in the world, so don’t let your fear hold you back from getting everything you can out of the experience!

Consider making Napa your home

When you visit Napa Valley, you’ll likely fall in love with the area. Where else can you go hiking, ride in a hot air balloon, enjoy live music, and have hundreds of world-famous wineries in your backyard? If you decide you can’t limit your time in Napa to a vacation, consider contacting a real estate agent to see if a property matches your criteria for a vacation home or permanent residence. Napa has everything from cozy cabins to single-family homes near the downtown action to sprawling estates complete with vineyards.

Ready to make the move?

Have you decided that Napa is the right place for you to live or own a vacation home? Reach out to experienced local real estate Mark Stornetta. He can answer any questions you have about the area and show you what’s currently on the market.

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