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Wine Tasting, Tours, and Planning Tips

Wine Tours, Transportation and Other Planning Tips

by Kellie Fuller, Napa River Inn Concierge


What are the best Napa Valley wineries?

It's no big secret - Napa Valley is renowned for extraordinary wine and excellent food, but when our guests are faced with hundreds of wineries ripe for the pickin', we know that planning can become all-too overwhelming.

The most common question we hear at the concierge desk ...

"What are the best Napa Valley wineries?"

We'd love to give you a Top 10 list, but there's no pat answer! And for good reason! In Napa Valley, we're blessed to be surrounded by wineries suited for every palate. Our job as concierge is to direct you to the wineries that are best fit for you. So here's how you can get a head start on planning - which is half the fun anyway!

First of all, consider transportation to the wineries. If someone in your party is willing to be the designated driver and abstain from wine tasting, you can go in your own vehicle or rental car.The valley is not too hard to navigate, and Napa River Inn can provide you with a good map upon your check-in. If you are going to taste beyond a couple of sips, I highly recommend that you do not drive! In my years as a concierge, I have known of guests who spent the night in jail instead of their comfy hotel room. It's not worth it to drink and drive!

If everyone wants to taste, then you have three options to choose from:

  • Hire a designated driver for your vehicle or rental car
  • Arrange for a private car, along with driver, to transport you
  • Join a group tour, which picks up and drops off at the inn

Napa wine tasting tours

The group tour, the most affordable option, is great for those who enjoy making friends! Plus, there's no need to become consumed with researching wineries. The tour group does all of the planning, typically picking four stops on the route. The company also provides a boxed lunch at one of the wineries, included in the fee of the tour. At each of the wineries, guests pay for the tasting. Guests are picked up and dropped off at Napa River Inn.

Private Napa transportation

If you have a few specific must-visit wineries in mind, a private driver is your best bet, whether that mode of transportation is your vehicle or their own. Our concierge desk is happy to assist booking your transportation needs.

If you're not going on a pre-planned group tour, here are a few points the concierge desk considers as we try to help you narrow down the 500-plus wineries to few that are right for you.

In general, you can expect to visit a maximum of three or four wineries a day with the first visit starting at 10 am.Most people do one tour and three tasting visits, with a stop for lunch.

Think about the wines you enjoy. Do you gravitate toward reds? Whites? Even if you don't drink wines from the Napa Valley, understanding what you like and don't can help your concierge choose good wines for you.What are your interests? You can visit wineries that blend their label with remarkable art, breathtaking gardens, wondrous architecture, California views and even caves.Some wineries offer wine and food pairings, ranging from small bites to a full lunch. There are picnic areas at certain wineries too, which can be a special experience during the warm weather season. 

Next, think about your budget. Winery tours and tastings can range from $15 to $100 per person. In general, if the wines are in a higher price range, the cost to taste will be, too.Some wineries will waive part or all of your tasting fee with purchase.

Is there anyone in your party under the age of 21? Some wineries don't allow minors; others have a minimum age for visiting. A few welcome all ages! Your concierge also can recommend wineries that might have more of an appeal to kids, though for the most part, wineries are geared toward adults.

Some wineries require appointments, while others offer walk-in visits. An appointment-based winery can make your wine tasting experience more intimate; however, there is nothing like the freedom of having an appointment-free day. Of course, you can always opt for a nice mix. 

Once you've thought about these details, it's time to connect with a Napa River Inn concierge. Armed with this information, we can help you create the best Napa Valley itinerary! If you prefer to do all the research (after all, who doesn't like reading up on wine), that's fine, too! Come with your list of wineries ... we can schedule the appointments or even arrange your list in a way that makes the most of your wine-tasting time.

Now you're all set to plan your Napa Valley visit!

Cheers!