Weekend wine tasting in Napa is fun year ‘round, but things really swing into high gear when the grapes are crushed at the end of summer.

Winery workers are up at the crack of dawn (and frequently before) – picking, sorting, transporting bins, crushing, cleaning, checking, testing, moving barrels, running equipment, and in general bringing in the harvest. Don’t expect to catch sight of the winemaker chatting with guests in the tasting room. Most don’t even get to see their families during this 6 week sprint across Mother Nature’s finish line.

"Beyond the pace of activities, harvest brings its own smell and color to the Valley. Somewhere in mid-September you will start to pick up the smell of pomace – the pits, skins, and stems left over from harvest. You will see purple puddles on some corners made from grapes that escape the trucks transporting the clusters from the vineyards."

So, where should you go during all this buzz of activity? We like to share some ideas, and pick some places that are clearly visible, but might not be well-known.

Salvestrin: Salvestrin is an intimate, family-owned winery in St. Helena that captivates you with its welcome, and seals the deal with great wines. Unpretentious and personable, it offers a place to leisurely explore a great Napa cab paired with some serious history. 397 Main Street, St. Helena, CA

If you are lucky enough to be at the Inn on Tuesday or Saturday morning, you must stop at the Farmer’s Market in the Oxbow  parking lot. Browse among flowers, crafts, and fresh vegetables so eye-poppingly beautiful your mouth waters just thinking about all the meals they would enhance. Grab a coffee, but think about buying some lunch to go for an UpValley jaunt.

Louis Martini: Speaking of history, Louis Martini has been a notable wine name for more than 75 years. Tours at the post prohibition Napa facility are worth it at $50 a person, and are by appointment. If you are looking for a place to enjoy that sandwich, most people aren’t aware of the shaded picnic area in the back that doesn’t require a reservation (yet). 254 South St. Helena Highway, St. Helena, CA.

Into something completely off-the-wall?

Summer Movie Night Series at Flora Springs: Only offered once a month in September and October, enjoy movie on the Rooftop Lounge as the stars come out. Price is $20 per person for popcorn and the movie. You can bring your own picnic enjoy a glass (or two) or buy a bottle of wine. They also offer a nice selection of dinner items if you prefer to be pampered. 677 South St. Helena Highway, St. Helena, CA