Winter is an ideal time to visit Napa. It’s much quieter and peaceful this time of year and because there are fewer visitors there’s less traffic and you’ll get better service at wineries and restaurants. Options abound whether you head up just for a day playing hooky or a long weekend.
Napa Truffle Festival
The Napa Truffle Festival runs January 17 - 20 and features both scientists and experts who study truffles and the chefs who cook with truffles. And of course, the truffle loving public. You can indulge a little or a lot. Tickets are available for seminars, tastings, a truffle dinner at La Toque or simply go to the Napa Truffle Festival Marketplace at Oxbow Public Market on January 20th for cooking demos and special truffle menu dishes sold à la carte.
Round Pond Olive Oil Mill Tours
Round Pond is a gem in the heart of Rutherford. They have been making award winning and highly rated estate wines since 2005 but also have a beautiful biodynamic vegetable garden behind the winery with patches of herbs that reflect the scents in their wines, olive orchards, and perhaps the only working olive oil mill in the valley. This is the season for olio nuovo, or new oil, and you’ll get to try it if you sign up for one of their olive oil tours or tastings.
Wineries offer a different experience for VIP’s who stay at cozy cottages in the vineyards, enjoy the cuisine of winery chefs and get to try wines from the barrel. But now Franciscan Estate is pulling back the curtain and allowing guests a go at behind-the-scenes exclusive experiences with a new 3-course wine pairing lunch program that launches on January 10, as well as wine sensory analysis and blending sessions.
Cooking with Julie
Another way to feel like an insider is to take a Cooking with Julie Oxbow market tour and cooking class with local Napa cooking instructor and trained chef, Julie Logue-Riordan. A fully immersive cultural and culinary experience, her practically full day classes focus on Napa grown products and wines and French cooking techniques with some Mediterranean touches. The day includes visits to retailers like Whole Spice and Fatted Calf as well as a private wine tasting and wine pairing with a three-course meal cooked on site at a winery.
Calistoga Winter Passport
Calistoga offers plenty of incentives to head to the North end of the valley. The Calistoga Winter Passport features deep discounts of up to 50% off on lodging at hotels and B&B’s, spa treatments, complimentary wine tasting at fourteen wineries, both large and small as well as discounts or perks at local restaurants and shops. The passport is available online and good through February 9.