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September 9, 2019
A beautiful day in California wine country. Photo by Laurie Jo Miller Farr.

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

San Francisco is the gateway to wine country in neighboring 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.

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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. Call in at the contemporary Liana Estates in Napa, where the guest experience offers beautiful views and retro lawn games such as bocce and corn hole.

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 Chandon, Hall Wines, and Inglenook on the Estate Tour, where there’s time for a full, unhurried visit and tasting experience at each.

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You Can Connect With Your Inner Child

The Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center is open. “AAUGH! The Language of Peanuts” is the new exhibit on display through May 21, 2018 at this museum in Santa Rosa. Snoopy, Linus and Lucy almost jump off the page from the creator’s original comic strips and Peanuts art work. Did you know that there’s an ice skating rink and a place for hot chocolate by the fireplace in the Warm Puppy Cafe? Everybody leaves with a smile.

You Can Meet The Makers

In Sebastopol at The Barlow, visitors get an insider’s look at the crafts community every Saturday at 11:30 a.m. A three-hour walking and tasting tour to “Meet the Makers” lets you explore brews, spirits, wines, and bites with local artisans working out of this fun 13-acre market district.

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. Check out more events during the off-season online for both Napa Valley and Sonoma County.

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. Book your room now.

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