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When to Go to Napa Valley


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Napa Valley at Harvest Time
When to Go to Napa Valley

Napa Valley Grape Harvest

©2009 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
Harvest time is one of Napa's busiest. That's true for winery personnel, as we know from personal experience: a winemaker friend disappears from all contact for a couple of months every harvest season. It's also a busy time for tourism.

When is the Harvest?

The exact dates of the annual grape harvest vary with weather conditions, but it generally starts between the end of July and end of August and lasts about eight weeks.

For some great updates on the latest Napa harvest season as it progresses, try The Cork Board, a knowledgeable blog about Napa Valley.

Napa Valley Weather at Harvest Time

Napa weather in August and September is mild, with highs in the mid-80s °F and lows in the mid 50s. There's little chance of rain, but you might experience some morning fog in the south end of the valley, which is nearest the San Francisco Bay.

Pros and Cons of Going to Napa at Harvest Time

Being in Wine Country during harvest has its pros and cons. You may not see as much as you think, with actual grape harvest starting near dawn and finished by breakfast time. Most of the action at the wineries themselves centers on getting the grapes crushed and their juice into tanks as fast as possible. It's all-hands-on-deck kind of work and the tasting rooms may be a bit short-staffed and over-busy.

Special Events at Harvest Time in Wine Country

Schramsberg sparkling winery hosts a special Crush Camp during harvest time. Participants get to see what it's like to harvest the grapes, taste the juices as they start the process of becoming a sparkling wine - and taste both wines and some great food. Read our Crush Camp diary for more information.

We're not sure whether the idea of releasing the grape juices by getting in barefoot and stomping on them is an old-fashioned technique or a Hollywood invention, but if you like the idea, Grgich Hills Hills Estate winery host an annual grape-stomping event. You can even take home a t-shirt decorated with your grape-juice-stained footprints. Find out more here. Schweiger Vineyards also hosts a fall Harvest Stomp and V. Sattui hosts a Crush Party in September.

Over in the Russian River Valley, they like to celebrate before the harvest gets started, with the annual Grape to Glass event.

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