It’s only an hour’s drive north of San Francisco, but Napa Valley is a vacation destination in itself, with world-renowned cabernets and chardonnays and an array of luxury hotels worth settling into for a long weekend. Fall kicks off harvest season across the valley, and travelers can expect cooler temperatures, less-crowded wineries, and seasonal ingredients that shine on local menus. Here, our favorite new restaurants, tasting rooms, and other wine-centric attractions enticing travelers to Napa Valley this fall – go soon and you’ll get to see the leaves glimmer gold.
1. A few storied Napa Valley wineries are marking milestones.
Rutherford’s Beaulieu Vineyard is celebrating the 80th anniversary of the bottling of its Georges de Latour, Napa Valley’s first cult cabernet; and Stags’ Leap, located just north of the town of Napa, will debut a 2018 vintage to mark its 125th harvest year. (Both wineries will offer special experiences to commemorate the occasions.) Saint Helena’s Louis M. Martini, one of the first Napa Valley wineries to open after Prohibition, recently unveiled a new look, featuring 30-foot-tall glass walls that look into the barrel cellar, private wine libraries, and outdoor tasting cabanas. And the new hospitality center at Bouchaine Vineyards, the oldest continuously operating winery in the Carneros district, opens in October with a commercial kitchen, an expansive terrace, and several wine-and-food pairings.
2. You’ve got a few new stops to add to your downtown Napa bar crawl.
Napa’s walkable downtown is abuzz with new tasting rooms, including Alpha Omega Collective, where the brand showcases its local wines alongside its two other labels – Tolosa from San Luis Obispo and Perinet from Spain’s Priorat region. In a bright blue house across the street from Oxbow Public Market, Walt Napa offers wine-and-chocolate pairings and pinot tastings in a hip and modern space. Mayacamas Vineyards’ sleek new salon pours current and older vintages, and stocks cutlery, glassware, and other bespoke products in a cute adjacent boutique.
3. There are even more restaurants and food shops to add to your list.
In Napa, the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) at Copia’s new outdoor casual-dining spot, Grove, specializes in wood-fired pizzas, southern BBQ from chef de cuisine Doug Richey, and fresh salads made with ingredients grown a few steps away. Chef Adam Perry Lang is opening his “meaty” Perry Lang’s restaurant inside The Estate Yountville this month, and following an extensive renovation, Napa’s beloved farm-to-table spot Brix reopened with brightened interiors and expanded indoor and outdoor dining rooms that enhance the already stellar views of the 16-acre property’s kitchen gardens, vines, and surrounding mountains.
For a more DIY meal, travelers can hone their picnic-packing skills at the new Gary’s Wine & Marketplace in Saint Helena. The shop is home to more than 600 wine labels, plus hundreds of types of cheeses, sandwiches, olive oil, charcuterie, and fresh breads. Oakville Grocery – open since 1881 – has sandwiches, salads, and other gourmet picnic fixings, as well as a recently expanded wine collection that includes many sought after Napa Valley elixirs.
4. The wine education is going way beyond the sipping.
It’s fitting that Napa Valley became home to the country’s first and only wine history museum when 1881 Napa opened this June. Housed inside a Victorian-era house in Oakville, the museum celebrates Napa Valley’s rich wine pedigree via a collection of vintage winemaking artifacts from Europe and the U.S. Keep the wine education rolling on the Napa Valley Wine Train, which turns 30 this month.
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