There were several different things that I looked into when I was planning our trip to Napa. Below are some of the major questions that I had and what we ended up doing.
How should I get around Napa?
One of my main concerns on our trip was how we were going to get around Napa when we were visiting the different wineries. We had some friends that had visited the year before us and they had rented a limo to drive them around. We also knew of other friends that had driven themselves, but they were lucky and had a pregnant friend that drove them around.
I looked into renting a limo or hiring a driver drive our car to the different wineries, but they all were pretty expensive (about $50-$100 an hour it seemed like). So the hubby and I ended up driving ourselves to the different wineries, and that worked well for us. We didn’t cram too many tastings into each day, and the hubby (who is usually the driver on our road trips) also shared tastings with me and didn’t finish all of the wine that he tried. All of this was to make sure that we were staying safe driving ourselves around.
Do I need reservations for tastings?
Certain wineries require reservations and others don’t. Like I’ve said before I’m a major planner, so even if we were just doing a tasting and not a tour, but the winery had the option to set up a reservation for the tasting I booked it. That way it was easier for me to plan where we were going.
If you’re not a planner, you can definitely get into any winery at any time for a tasting, but if you would like to do an actual tour, I would make a reservation. I would recommend doing some research on what wineries you would want to visit and then decide if you would like to do a tour.
Do I need to stay in Napa?
If you’re planning on driving yourself, you definitely don’t need to stay in Napa. The Napa Valley is made of several small cities that are very close together, and they’re all easy to get to. We stayed in American Canyon which is farther south than Napa, which is only 10-15 minutes away by car. But the 10-15 minute drive ended up saving us about $100/night for our hotel. Definitely worth it in my book.
Should I bring anything with me to my tastings?
One of the smartest things that the hubby and I did before we started our 2 day tour of Napa was to run by the Wal-Mart the night before our trip and buy a cheap styrofoam cooler, a 24 pack of water, and some snacks. We filled the cooler with ice from the hotel and that kept water bottles cold for us while we were driving around the Napa Valley. This way we able to stay hydrated in between tastings, and we were also able to munch on snacks as well. That’s probably the biggest recommendation that I can make, bring water and snacks with you, because after a day of drinking wine, you’ll be happy that you have it.
What wineries should I visit?
I think that the wineries that you decide to visit ultimately depend on what type of wines you like and the type of experience that you want to have. We visited some of the bigger wineries in the area, and we didn’t get to stop into some of the more mom and pop type of wineries. The reason that we chose the bigger wineries was because we had never been and I wanted us to have a “typical” Napa experience. You might not want the same experience as us, so I would definitely recommend doing research and reading recommendations for the type of wineries that you’d like to visit.
I hope this helps a little with your planning for your trip to Napa! My biggest recommendation is to plan, plan, plan, and you’ll have the best experience!