8 Reasons to Visit Napa Valley and Sonoma County in the Off Season | San Francisco Travel
Ledson Winery's tasting room looks like a European castle.

8 Reasons to Visit
Napa Valley and Sonoma County in the Off-Season

San Francisco is the gateway to Napa Valley and Sonoma County. Here are nine reasons why you should visit during the fall and winter seasons.

The Busy Season Is Over

Local residents encourage their own friends and family to come after harvest when high season is over and everyone can slow the pace a bit. And, autumn is glorious in wine country. The sun is shining, grape leaves are showing off their fall foliage and the summertime crowds are gone. In fact, the season is a popular time to consider a hot air balloon ride over the region, to take advantage of the fall colors.

Book a Hot Air Balloon Ride

There's So Much To Taste

Winery tasting rooms are open all year round. There’s nothing like the sense of place you get when sipping a superb wine in the very spot where it was made. California winemakers, tasting room hosts, brand ambassadors, and tour guides are looking forward to pouring the local wines for you, sharing their expertise, and answering questions about the entire production process from vine to glass.

Visit legendary wineries with brand names known throughout the world. Chateau Montelena, for example, played a leading role in initially putting California on the international wine map in 1976. Make a reservation to stop in for a highly personalized experience at a smaller, intimate family winery such as Judd’s Hill on Napa’s Silverado Trail. Visit Ektimo Vineyards in Sebastopol, tucked away off the West County Trail in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley.

It's A Foodie Haven, Too

You know that terrific restaurant you’d love to try? This is the best time to score the best table. Whether you’re craving a contemporary three-star Michelin dining experience or a traditional wood-fired pizza that’s bubble-charred at the edges, your table is ready. And the weather may be nice enough to sit outdoors. During the off-season, keep an eye out for designated Restaurant Weeks in both Napa Valley and Sonoma County, offering specially-priced dining opportunities at favorite places.

You Can Travel In Style

Be wined and dined on the Napa Valley Wine Train. Attentive service, gourmet food, and curated wines are served aboard a handsome century-old railcar. Enjoy one of the most scenic train rides in the nation. Napa Valley Wine Train has several different itineraries stopping at famous vineyards like Domaine ChandonHall Wines, and Inglenook on the Estate Tour, where there’s time for a full, unhurried visit and tasting experience at each.

You Can Meet The Makers

In Sebastopol at The Barlow, visitors can experience pop-up craft fairs, unique classes and tours, and specialty happy hours. This 12-acre market district has local brews, wines, spirits, and crafts made on-site by local Sonoma County vendors. 

Experience the beautiful industry-chic grounds, which are dog friendly, so bring the furbaby! You'll probably notice the edible landscaping throughout the space. This is a nod to the rich agricultural history of the region. 

Special Events Abound

The event calendars in both Napa Valley and Sonoma County are usually full during the shoulder seasons of fall and winter. The Napa Valley Film Festival in November and Sonoma International Film Festival in March, are annual highlights, combining wine, food, and film, and attracting a celebrity crowd. The cross-over season of Fall into Spring is Cabernet Season in Napa Valley, and the region offers many special opportunities to taste at leisure.

The Holiday Spirit Is Everywhere

Make a toast to the festive holiday season. Few things that come in a bottle say "celebration" as perfectly as a great California sparkling wine. Your hosts at Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyard in Sonoma are ready to pop the cork and pour the bubbly. Tours and tastings take place every day. All they need is you.

There Are Great Rates And Deals

From Halloween to Easter, take advantage of the attractive pricing being offered by hotels and resorts throughout Napa and Sonoma. Choose a cozy inn, a golf resort, a downtown hotel or a spa retreat and stay longer for less.

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Aaron Danzig
Aaron Danzig

Aaron is the Manager of Digital & Social Media Marketing at San Francisco Travel. He has lived in San Francisco for over 9 years and has worked in Travel & Tourism for over 7 of those. He is usually exploring the Bay Area hunting for that new and unique experience and good food too!