The Best Things to Do in Napa Valley in the Winter

Best Things to Do in Napa Valley in the Winter featured by top US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise

This post was updated on October 19, 2023

The Best Things to Do in Napa Valley in the Winter

It’s no secret that I love traveling to popular destinations in the off-season. There are a lot of pros that come along with it: lower hotel rates, cheaper airfare, and fewer crowds. Sure, you might have to deal with less than ideal weather at times, but I like being able to get the most bang for my buck when I travel. You can save so much money by traveling in the off-season!

One destination you should consider in the quiet months? Napa Valley. You all have been asking for Napa content for months (honestly, maybe even years), and I’m excited to share some of the best things to do in Napa Valley during the winter today! Ultimately, now that I live in California, my goal is to visit Napa several times over the next year and create a comprehensive guide for every Napa thing imaginable — but for now, we’ll start with this quick winter weekend guide.

Just a heads up: during the first two weeks in January, some restaurants in Napa close for maintenance or employee breaks. Winter is a great time to visit, but I would avoid this two-week period so you can visit all of the restaurants and wineries on your list!

Short on time? Here is what you need to know about visiting Napa in the Winter:

☔️ Winter is rainy season. Make sure to pack an umbrella.
🛌 You can find a hotel in Napa for as low as $80/night in the off-season. 
🍷 Don’t want to book wineries on your own? You’ll love this tour.
🍇 Some of the best wineries to visit during winter include Domaine Carneros, Cliff Lede, Brasswood Cellars, Robert Mondavi, and more.

Napa travel guide

Things to Do in Napa in the Winter: Weather & Packing Tips

Even though I have East Coast roots, I was still pretty surprised at how chilly I was during our trip to Napa. Winter is rainy season in Northern California, so you’ll definitely want to pack an umbrella. It rained 3 out of 4 days we were in Napa. So it was a little dreary but still beautiful. I really can’t complain about rain in California too much: the state is prone to droughts. And it can get all of the rain that it can get.

December and January are the coldest months of the year, with an average high of 58°F and a low of 40°F. Go ahead and pack that coat and sweater! Luckily, if you end up needing to do a wine tasting outdoors, almost everywhere in Napa has heat lamps. But for the sake of this travel guide, I’ll be focusing on the places that have ample amounts of indoor seating available.

Things to Pack to Visit Napa Valley in the Winter:

If you’re heading to Napa Valley in the winter, I’d recommend packing:

  • A warm jacket
  • Raincoat
  • Umbrella
  • Sneakers
  • Boots
  • Sweaters
  • A nice outfit (or two!) for dinner
  • A wine tasting journal to keep track of your favorite wineries and wines

Where to Stay in Napa Valley:

Looking for the best hotels in Napa? Here are some ideas!

Alicia Tenise holding wine glass

wine bottles
Wine tasting in Napa

Best Things to Do in Napa Valley in the Winter featured by top US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise

Things to Do in Napa Valley in the Winter: The Best Wineries to Visit

Alright, alright, let’s get to the whole reason why you’re going to Napa in the first place: the wine. There’s no shortage of good wine in Napa, but here are some cozy wineries with a good amount of indoor seating that I think you’ll love.

Best Things to Do in Napa Valley in the Winter
Napa Valley wine tasting guide
 
charcuterie board

Domaine Carneros

Kick off your Napa wine tasting experience with a bit of bubbly. Domaine Carneros was founded by the family of Taittinger, one of the premier champagne houses in Reims, France. They specialize in méthode traditionelle sparkling wine and produce an incredible Pinot Noir.
 
The Domaine Carneros château in Napa is truly a work of art — it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been wine tasting in the entire country. You can opt for various tastings and experiences at the château, but I’d highly recommend the Art of Sabrage. With this experience, you can celebrate in style and learn how to saber a champagne bottle like a pro, as well as try wines from Domaine Carneros’ estate portfolio.

The Prisoner Wine Company

The Prisoner Wine Company in Napa
Wine food pairings

The Prisoner Wine Company

The Prisoner Wine Co’s tasting room is hip yet inviting at the same time. I loved how chic and modern this winery was, and the staff was absolutely incredible.

If you’re going to The Prisoner Wine Company, I highly recommend opting for their food and wine pairing. It was one of the best culinary experiences we had in Napa. And I’m still dreaming of the Oaxacan tetelas they served! The wine here is elevated, and some of their red blends are more complex. But it was nice to try these wines in an approachable environment.

Best Things to Do in Napa Valley in the Winter featured by top US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise
Best Things to Do in Napa Valley in the Winter featured by top US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise

Cliff Lede Vineyards

Cliff Lede Vineyards

Do you like rock and roll and exceptional wine? Cliff Lede has the ideal tasting room for you.

The wine at Cliff Lede was absolutely phenomenal. I hate to pick favorites, but they had some of the best Napa wine I’ve ever had. If you want to try some of the best wines in Cliff Lede’s portfolio with a bit of a musical twist, then you’ll want to opt for their Backstage Tasting Lounge tasting. With their Backstage Pass, you’ll get to taste wine in their special lounge with has rotating art exhibits and rock memorabilia. 

Best Things to Do in Napa Valley in the Winter featured by top US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise

Best Things to Do in Napa Valley in the Winter featured by top US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise
Best Things to Do in Napa Valley in the Winter featured by top US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise

Robert Mondavi Winery

Robert Mondavi is your best bet if you want an elevated, classic Napa wine tasting experience. In fact, Robert Mondavi has been producing wine in Napa for over fifty years and is home to the To Kalon Vineyard, rated #1 in North America and #5 in the world. Fine wine lovers: this should be at the top of your Napa wishlist.

Even though you’ll want to take in the gorgeous views at Robert Mondavi Winery, they have plenty of cozy indoor spaces where you can enjoy a winter wine tasting if there happens to be inclement weather.

Priest Ranch Winery bacon and wine

Best Things to Do in Napa Valley in the Winter featured by top US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise
Best Things to Do in Napa Valley in the Winter featured by top US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise

Priest Ranch Winery

Located in downtown Yountville, Priest Ranch’s cozy tasting room is home to some amazing food and wine pairing experiences in all of Napa Valley. We opted for the Bacon and Wine experience and loved every minute of it. Still, they also have a Caviar & Bubbles experience and an Estate Experience & Lunch if you want to head out to their vineyards in the eastern hills of Napa.

Judd's Hill Blending Bootcamp in Napa Vallet

Other Wineries I Recommend:

While I haven’t visited these wineries in the winter, I loved my experience at the following wineries in other seasons — and can imagine they would be very cozy during the cooler months!

  • Brasswood Cellars: Their Cabernet Franc was a highlight for me. Make sure to grab lunch here after you’ve finished your tasting!
     
  • Judd’s Hill: If you’ve ever wanted to make your own wine blend, you won’t want to miss Judd Hill’s Blending Bootcamp. Here, you learn how to create your ideal red blend, and they will keep your blend on file if you want to order more bottles in the future!
     
  • Sequoia Grove Winery: The wine here was excellent. While we loved the patio tasting in the summer, there is a small indoor tasting room where you can try some of their incredible wines as well.

Best Things to Do in Napa Valley in the Winter featured by top US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise

Best Things to Do in Napa Valley in the Winter featured by top US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise
Best Things to Do in Napa Valley in the Winter featured by top US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise

Best Things to Do in Napa Valley in the Winter featured by top US travel blogger, Alicia Tenise

Other Places to Eat and Drink in Napa Valley in the Winter

Napa General Store:

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day when you’re wine tasting, and a visit to Napa General Store is a must. They use fresh, local ingredients and have a few Napa-inspired signature dishes you’ll want to try.

La Cheve Bakery and Brews:

This was by far one of my favorite breakfast spots in the area. It’s located minutes away from Downtown Napa, and offers some of the most delicious, innovative pastries I’ve ever tried, mimosa flights, and beer just in case you need a break from the wine!

La Luna Market & Taqueria:

If you’re looking for a quick, cheap, delicious lunch, this is a solid bet. Here you can grab burritos, quesadillas, tacos, and tortas on the go. This made for a great pit stop in between wineries!

Mother’s Tacos:

This is another great spot for a casual lunch.  The tortillas here are handmade, the portion sizes are excellent, and the staff is incredibly friendly. Don’t forget to get an agua fresca here as well!

North Block:

One great dining option is the North Block Hotel in Yountville for dinner. They offer refined California dishes made with locally grown ingredients. 

RH Yountville Wine Vault:

If you’re a fan of Restoration Hardware or, simply, well-designed spaces, you’ll love the RH Wine Vault in downtown Yountville. They offer a carefully curated selection of wines from Napa and Sonoma — I even spotted some small-batch, sold-out wines on their menu, so if you ever want to try a Napa wine that’s hard to get, you’ll want to check out the RH Wine Vault.

Oxbow Public Market:

For the ultimate foodie, you’ll want to visit this massive marketplace for some of the best local food. Oxbow Public Market is home to local food vendors, artisan cafes, and an organic produce outlet. If the weather’s warm enough, you can also sit outside and enjoy views of the Napa River. But there are plenty of places to dine indoors as well if you’re looking for a more cozy experience.
 
Hog Island Oyster Bar was one of my favorites — get the clam chowder, you won’t be disappointed! 

Scala Osteria:

A delicious Italian spot with an incredible wine selection and a great atmosphere, located in the heart of Downtown Napa. 

Best Things to Do in Napa Valley in the Winter

Have you ever been to Napa Valley in the winterI Let me know in the comments below!

Photos by Tom McGovern

If you liked this travel guide, check out more of my wine travel content here!

 

Leave a Comment

3 Comments

  1. Christine wrote:

    Thank you so much for posting a new Napa guide – I can’t wait to go back to Napa! I basically need to go visit all of these now. Haha

    Posted 1.13.22 Reply
  2. Eric Visser wrote:

    Thank you for your great review. My wife and I will be visiting Napa in February 2024 and will be using your recommendations for sure. We were uncertain if Napa would be a good place to visit in the winter but after reading your review, we can’t wait to go.

    Salud,
    The Vissers

    Posted 1.7.24 Reply
    • Alicia wrote:

      I hope you have the best time!

      Posted 1.10.24 Reply