Cal. Wine Country What time of year?

Jun 9th, 2008, 08:58 AM
  #1  
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Cal. Wine Country What time of year?

Now that we are retired and can travel any time of year what are your suggestions for visiting the California wine country (Napa Valley)? We live in SW Florida so would like to escape from the heat and humidity but we don't want to wear "winter" clothes. Would also like to avoid massive crowds if possible.
teacherD is offline  
Jun 9th, 2008, 10:57 AM
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I think Napa Valley is busy all the time. Having said that, we're partial to the Fall. September is still warm, but not cooking. We've stayed at Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford which is a beautiful property. A lot of very nice properties in the area. Depends on what you want to spend.
patandhank is online now  
Jun 9th, 2008, 11:16 AM
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September and October are very warm to hot. But there's no humidity - it's bone-dry because it's before the start of the rainy season (generally speaking). October in particular can be bustling, since it's harvest time. November can be lovely - some sunny afternoons mixed with cool mornings and chilly nights, maybe some rain. Early darkness, of course.

If I was coming from a hot humid climate and wanted a change, maybe early spring would be a good choice. Late February to anytime in March would have some rain, but everything would be green and the orchards and wildflowers would be starting to blossom. You would need some sweaters and a rain jacket and shoes that could stand some mud. Longer days mean you could drive out to the Sonoma coast and the Russian River area too.
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Jun 9th, 2008, 02:27 PM
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casey_reed84
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Last time I went was in October. We didn't experience any crowds really at all. It was a little chilly, maybe in the low 60's but very beautiful. You have to remember to that in this area it doesn't really get to 90 degrees even in the summer time. It stays relatively cool. Do keep in mind that all the harvesting has been done by this time and there are only unusable grapes left on the vines which means you wont be able to try different grapes from the vines which is always fun.
 
Jun 9th, 2008, 02:54 PM
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The crowds are only "massive" in the summer and Fall weekends through approx. early October. Basically, Memorial Day to Labor Day, especially weekends are busy. If you visit midweek before June or after September 15, the crowds are nearly gone but the climate is still very pleasant.

No humidity at all. If anything, you'll need light outerwear in the evening, with a chance of rain. I live in the area and have gone on July 4 weekend and didn't find the crowds unbearable but dinner resv. are necessary almost all year long.
Parrothead is offline  
Jun 9th, 2008, 03:05 PM
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I'm following up on the comment Casey made re: sampling grapes on the vines. Is that really something that is allowed and done? People walk through the vineyards eating grapes????????? We've only gone to wineries in NJ and NY and that certainly is not done where we visited. Also what prices should we expect to pay in CA for a wine tasting?
teacherD is offline  
Jun 9th, 2008, 03:10 PM
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I've never seen anyone sampling the grapes.

My favorite time to go is February/March. Unless you go on an event weekend (ie Barrel Tasting) you have the place pretty much to yourself. The mustard is blooming wildly under the sleeping vines and daffodils are everywhere. The fruit trees are aburst in their colorful popcorn blossoms. If it's not raining, it's a great time to be bicycling.

Alternatively, September is when the vines are the riches with big leaves and big bunches of grapes. But it's a crowded time to go.

How much you'll pay to taste depends on where you go. Far more vintners charge in Napa Valley than in Sonoma County. If you go to Dry Creek, Alexander Valley, Russian River, Anderson Valley, you often won't pay anything at all unless you're sampling the library wines or have chosen a very popular winery. And then the $5 or $10 will apply to any wine you purchase. Sonoma County is nearly always less crowded.

www.wineroad.com
Grassshopper is offline  
Jun 9th, 2008, 03:56 PM
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Hmmmm, casey...it was about 95
degrees here today in southern Sonoma county-Napa can often be 90+
in the summer.

We do cool off most evenings,
as Parrothead has said. Depending on where you are and if it is affected by fog-I have worn sweatshirts after dark on many a 4th of July's.

I'd vote for Grasshopper's nod to
the Healdsburg area as well.

R5
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Jun 9th, 2008, 04:16 PM
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Spring is best. You have lovely cool weather and green, green hills. And not so many people. I love late April and early May here.

The problem with fall is that you run into the "grape crush" and millions of people go to the Sonoma and Napa Valleys. Yes, the air smells like wine and it is great. But crowded.

If it is hot, which it usually is, it will NOT be humid. In the los 100's is about it.
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Jun 9th, 2008, 05:17 PM
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casey_reed84
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Yes, you can taste the grapes on a lot of winery tours. For example Robert Mondavi has it's own small section with every type of grape they grow which are used just for sampling by poeple taking their tour. So yes you can try the grapes but obviously there aren't poeple just walking around the vineyard picking grapes and eating them.

And I didn't say it doesn't get to 90 degrees. I said it doesn't happen often. I lived in Napa for 8 years and in the summer the temperature usually is 80 to 85 degrees. And wine tasting prices depend on where you go. Obviously the more prestigous the winery the more expensive.

Opus One = expensive
Franciscan = cheap
 
Jun 9th, 2008, 06:27 PM
  #11  
 
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"Opus One = expensive
Franciscan = cheap"

Both of these labels are part of Constellation Brands which has a wide variety of price levels in their portfolio.

Temperature in the Napa Valley depends on where you are. Napa is the coolest part because it's nearest the bay. But, most of the wineries are north of Yountville in Oakville, Rutherford, and St. Helena. 90+ degrees in summer and fall is much more common here than in Napa. And Calistoga often hits 100+.

Currently, it's 90 degrees in Napa and it will be hot all week according to the weather man.
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Jun 9th, 2008, 06:53 PM
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casey_reed84
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Opus One only puts out one wine every year. That is cabernet sauvignon. One wine every year. That's it. Prices are usually about 180 bucks a bottle. Not much range in that.
 
Jun 10th, 2008, 06:02 AM
  #13  
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Glad to hear the some wineries charge $5-10. I had gone to some sites previously and saw $25-50 and had almost given up on the idea of going to CA.
teacherD is offline  
Jun 10th, 2008, 09:53 AM
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We like to visit in March, very nice weather and the mustard is blooming! ***kim***
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Jun 10th, 2008, 08:09 PM
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If you don't want heat, avoid June, July, August, September. But we really only have a few weeks a year that are super-hot. Most of the time it is warm but a little breeze comes in around 4PM or so each day, and our evenings are comfortable.

But I would suggest coming any month of the year on weekdays. I live here and we drive these roads every day. I rarely experience traffic jams (only if there's an accident or something). Crowds at the wineries can be avoided with tastings earlier in the day. Also, don't go between 4 and 6PM. Spend this time relaxing, having an iced tea or lemonade, enjoying the views and conversing with the locals. Visit some galleries or quaint museums. There are lots of ways to avoid being with too many people.
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