When to Go to Napa and Sonoma

Timing Your Trip

High season extends from April through October. In summer, expect the days to be hot and dry, and traffic heavy at the tasting rooms. Hotel rates are highest during peak harvest, in September and October. Then, and in summer, book lodgings well ahead. November, except for Thanksgiving week, and December before Christmas are less busy.


The weather in Napa and Sonoma is pleasant nearly year-round. Daytime temperatures average about 55°F in winter up into the 80s in summer, when readings in the 90s and higher are common. April, May, and October are milder but still warm. The rainiest months are usually from December through March.

Festivals and Seasonal Events

Auction Napa Valley. Dozens of events culminate in the Napa Valley's glitziest night—with an opulent dinner and an auction of rare wines and other coveted items to benefit nonprofit health and other programs. It's held on the first full weekend in June. auctionnapavalley.org.

BottleRock Napa Valley. An end-of-May three-day food, wine, and music festival, BottleRock gets summer rolling (and rocking) with acts headlined by the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Maroon 5. Tickets sell out in early January when the lineup is announced. www.bottlerocknapavalley.com.

Festival Napa Valley. This acclaimed mid-July event attracts international opera, theater, dance, and musical performers to Castello di Amorosa and other venues. California. www.festivalnapavalley.org.

Flavor! Napa Valley. Several days of dinners, cooking demonstrations, and wine-and-food tastings—many involving top chefs and winemakers—take place in late March. The event benefits the California campus of the Culinary Institute of America. www.flavornapavalley.com.

Pinot on the River. Pinot Noir fans flock to the Russian River Valley in late October for a weekend of tastings, seminars, and lively discourse about what makes a great Pinot. www.pinotfestival.com.

Sonoma County Harvest Fair. This early fall festival at the county fairgrounds in Santa Rosa celebrates Sonoma agriculture with wine and olive-oil competitions, cooking demos, livestock shows, carnival rides, local entertainers, and the perennially popular Harvest Dog Dash. Santa Rosa, California. www.harvestfair.org.

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend. Chefs, grape growers, and winemakers team up for this weekend of lunches, dinners, and wine tastings that culminates in a live auction of rare wines and other items. sonomawinecountryweekend.com.

West of West Wine Festival. Wineries and grape growers along Sonoma County's coastline sponsor this early-August festival at The Barlow in Sebastopol. You can sample Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, Syrahs, and other wines of small producers with no tasting rooms of their own. www.westsonomacoast.com.

A Wine & Food Affair. For this November event, wineries prepare a favorite recipe and serve it with wine. Participants travel from winery to winery to sample the fare. This affair sells out every year. www.wineroad.com.

Wine Road Barrel Tasting Weekends. In early March, more than 100 wineries open their cellars for tastings straight from barrel. www.wineroad.com.

Winter Wineland. In mid-January, most northern Sonoma County wineries—including many not generally open to the public—offer tastings, seminars, and entertainment. www.wineroad.com.

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