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How to Experience Wine Harvest Season in the Napa Valley

How to Experience Wine Harvest Season in the Napa Valley

Tours of world-renowned Napa Valley wine country are often a highlight of a stay in the San Francisco Bay area. There are myriad ways to experience the picturesque vineyards set against a backdrop of rolling hills, from the luxury of a private limousine to a hot air balloon ride. Here is everything you need to know before you go.

   

When to Go

From early August through October, summer transitions to crisper temperatures, leaves turn to gem colors, and Napa Valley becomes a frenzy of grape harvesting. The “crush” starts with grapes for sparkling wines, while late-harvest varietals linger longer on the vine. Whether you choose to partake in festivities that celebrate the harvest or simply join a food and wine-tasting tour, there’s really no bad time of year to sample the vintages of this premium wine region.

How to Go

Gain insight into the winemaking process on a group tour, or opt for a private wine-tasting with friends and receive the undivided attention of your guide. Excursions may include top wineries and tasting rooms such as Beringer and Castello di Amorosa in St. Helena; Madonna Estate Winery and Hagafen Cellars in Napa; Robert Mondavi in Oakville; and Domaine Chandon in Yountville. The Napa Valley Wine Train serves gourmet meals and lets you hop off at Grgich Hills Estate, Charles Krug Winery, or Raymond Vineyards, while the Wine Trolley makes a scenic journey aboard a replica San Francisco cable car. Sunrise hot-air balloon rides usually include breakfast and a sparkling toast.

Things to Know

  • The Napa Valley is located about 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Guided tours typically provide round-trip hotel transport, leaving you to consume alcohol safely without the worry of navigating city or highway traffic.
  • Michelin-starred, farm-to-table restaurants abound in Yountville; oysters, gourmet cheese, and artisan-made chocolates stand out at the Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa. Many tours pair food with wine tasting.
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12 Tours and Activities | All Napa & Sonoma Tours

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Private Sonoma and Napa Wine Tour from San Francisco

Private Sonoma and Napa Wine Tour from San Francisco

star-4.5
Visit some of the top wineries in Napa and Sonoma counties on this private wine tour from San Francisco. Traveling by private vehicle with your own chauffeur, you'll discover the best of California wine country as you enjoy wine tastings at select wineries. When booking, select the option that suits your group size. Because this is a private tour, your itinerary can be customized.
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  • 8 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$445.00
per group
From
$445.00
per group
Taking safety measures

Small-Group Wine-Tasting Tour through Napa Valley

Small-Group Wine-Tasting Tour through Napa Valley

star-5
Discover the Napa Valley at a relaxed pace on a 6.5-hour small-group tour. Comfortable transportation collects you from your hotel and carries your group to three distinct wineries, where you can enjoy tastings at your own expense. Listen to live commentary and ask questions at any time. Your experience also includes a complimentary picnic lunch, complete with cheese plate, at a charming winery.
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  • 6 hours 30 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$129.69
From
$129.69
Taking safety measures

Napa Valley Wine Train with Gourmet Lunch

Napa Valley Wine Train with Gourmet Lunch

star-4.5
Roll through Northern California’s famous wine country on the renowned Napa Valley Wine Train. Pass charming towns like Rutherford and St. Helena, and soak up the scenery of rolling hills, vineyards, and estates through large picture windows on the trip. Explore the restored vintage train cars, and then take a seat for a gourmet lunch or dinner freshly prepared by the train’s acclaimed on-board restaurant.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$164.20
From
$164.20
Taking safety measures

Napa Valley Wine Train with Gourmet Lunch, Wine Tasting and Vineyard Tours

Napa Valley Wine Train with Gourmet Lunch, Wine Tasting and Vineyard Tours

star-4.5
Take a memorable ride through world-famous vineyards aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train, complete with a gourmet lunch. Settle into the gorgeously refurbished historic train and enjoy the passing scenery through large picture windows. Savor a three-course lunch in an antique dining car as you roll through the charming towns and sprawling vineyards of Napa Valley. Disembark at your choice of winery for a guided tour and tasting. It’s the most relaxing, elegant way to see Napa.
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  • 5 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$233.16
From
$233.16
Taking safety measures

Wine Country Hot-Air-Balloon Ride

Wine Country Hot-Air-Balloon Ride

star-4.5
Experience world-famous wine country from the air on an early morning hot-air balloon ride. Start the day with a complimentary pick-up from local area hotel. Then climb into a comfortable basket to take to the skies as the valley below you awakens. Enjoy a bird’s-eye perspective of rolling hills, expansive vineyards, and elegant estates during your flight. Your pilot will offer insights on ballooning and the landscape as you float above it all! Post-flight we will return you to your Hotel with memories that will last a life-time. * Wine Country Hot-air balloon ride * Learn about the world famous Wine Country as your soar above it all * Complimentary pick-up & return from Local area hotel
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  • 3 to 4 hours
  • Taking safety measures
From
$275.00
From
$275.00
Taking safety measures

Napa Valley Open Air Wine Trolley Tour with Lunch

Napa Valley Open Air Wine Trolley Tour with Lunch

star-4.5
Make your day in wine country memorable on a fun tour aboard the Napa Valley Wine Trolley. The open-air cable car is a replica of the historic trolleys seen in San Francisco and offers gorgeous views of the vineyards as you travel to four wineries to sample the local blends. An expert guide will accompany you along the way, providing entertaining and factual commentary about Napa’s rich history. Midday, stop for a picnic lunch catered by French-country bistro The Girl & the Fig, a local favorite. Savor a gourmet spread of sandwiches, side salads, and desserts, served family style so you can pick and choose among the tasty offerings.
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  • 6 hours
  • Taking safety measures
From
$107.89
From
$107.89
Taking safety measures

Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley

Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley

star-4.5
Embark on a unique wine country experience with a trip aboard the Sonoma Valley Wine Trolley. Modeled after the famed cable cars of San Francisco, the trolley shuttles you through Sonoma’s picturesque winemaking region with stops at three different wineries. Taste regional varietals at each estate, and savor a gourmet picnic lunch catered by top-rated local bistro The Girl & the Fig. Learn about the history of Sonoma from your spirited guide as you roll past a handful of historic landmarks throughout the day.
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  • 6 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$107.89
From
$107.89
Taking safety measures

#1 Small Group Sonoma Walking Food and Wine Tour

#1 Small Group Sonoma Walking Food and Wine Tour

star-5
Savor the best of Sonoma’s cuisine on a food tour in the heart of California wine country. Sample locally-made wines and artisanal cheeses as you stroll Sonoma’s historic downtown with a foodie guide, then try fine chocolates and olive oil at chic, cutting-edge boutiques. Soak up the latest flavors at six curated tasting stops along a relaxed, route and get an insider’s perspective on Sonoma’s gourmet culture. Learn the stories behind the region’s culinary legends, thriving vineyards, and remarkable artisanal renaissance.
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  • 3 hours
  • Taking safety measures
From
$105.00
From
$105.00
Taking safety measures

Wine Country by Helicopter with Wine Tasting and Food Pairing

Wine Country by Helicopter with Wine Tasting and Food Pairing

star-4.5
Fly by helicopter from the San Francisco Bay Area to Wine Country during this tour. Enjoy views of the city, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Wine Country's rolling vineyards before touching down at one of the area's most prestigious wineries. Enjoy a guided tour of the property, tapas and a wine tasting. With your small group limited to 6 people, learn about the winery's world-class varietals and all the love and labor that goes into making the perfect cabernet. When your excursion is over, travel back to San Francisco by helicopter.
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  • 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Taking safety measures
From
$485.00
From
$485.00
Taking safety measures

Napa and Sonoma Wine Education + Alcatraz Tour & Aquarium Access

Napa and Sonoma Wine Education + Alcatraz Tour & Aquarium Access

star-4.5
Enjoy San Francisco’s most popular activities with this 2-day tour that combines admission to Alcatraz, a ferry ride on San Francisco Bay, a drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and a Napa and Sonoma wine tour. The first day, explore the former prison on Alcatraz Island, listening to true inmate stories via the audio walking tour and get all-day access to the Aquarium of the Bay. The next day, head to wine country on a minicoach tour that includes tastings at four to six wineries and an open-air tram tour of the biodynamic vineyards at Benziger Family Winery. Lunch is included on Day 2.
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  • 2 days
  • Taking safety measures
From
$235.00
From
$235.00
Taking safety measures

6-Hour Private Wine Tasting Tour with Pre-Set Stops

6-Hour Private Wine Tasting Tour with Pre-Set Stops

star-5
Taste the best of Sonoma County and Napa Valley labels during this private wine tasting tour for VIP enthusiasts. Enjoy four pre-selected stops through wine country, including local cellars, wineries, and a world-class lunch stop. Or, feel free to swap in your own selections. Tours include private transportation in a luxury vehicle.
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  • 6 hours
  • Taking safety measures
From
$470.00
per group
From
$470.00
per group
Taking safety measures

Downtown Napa Food and Wine Tour

Downtown Napa Food and Wine Tour

star-4.5
Explore Napa’s legendary food and wine on a 3-hour gourmet walking tour through downtown. Get an insider’s perspective on the culinary scene as you stroll the 1-mile (1.6-km) route alongside a local, foodie guide, and pause at a series of seven boutiques, cafés and restaurants. Learn about California’s terroir from a local olive oil maker, taste fine, handmade chocolates and visit an elegant collective of vintners. Enjoy the leisurely, strolling meal with a small group of fellow foodies, and experience the flavors of California wine country.
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  • 3 hours
  • Taking safety measures
From
$101.00
From
$101.00
Taking safety measures