How To Have The Best Napa Wine Tour

Napa Wine Tours

Are you planning a trip to the Napa Valley? If so, a wine tour may be the best way to see and do everything you want to. Wine tours allow you the freedom of choosing your own itinerary or following a preset one. Food, wine and sightseeing are all included in the best wine tours. The best part of all is that someone else does the driving, so you can enjoy yourself!

I have to say that there are many great Napa wine tours available that are pre-planned.  These are great for the first time visitor to the valley.  If this isn't your first trip to Wine Country you probably don't want to see the same touristy stuff that everyone else is seeing.  Planning your own trip can also help you dodge the crowds and see the great stuff that the locals enjoy.

Image courtesy of ddg50 on Flickr.
Image courtesy of ddg50 on Flickr.

Napa Valley

Before embarking on your first wine tour, it's probably best to have an understanding of the different towns in Napa Valley.  Let's take a look at them, starting at the Southern end.

American Canyon

For the average traveler wanting to see "Wine Country," American Canyon doesn't have a lot to offer except a cheap hotel.  There are a couple of vineyards and tasting rooms here, and they are good to get away from the crowd.


Napa is the largest city in "Wine Country" and has the largest selection of things to do.  If you have kids with you, the friendliest kid restaurants are to be found here.  As well as chain restaurants if you can't go without your Taco Bell fix.  There are many tasting rooms to be found downtown and vineyards the entire way up Silverado Trail on the way to Yountville.


Yountville probably gets most of its fame from the fact it is home to French Laundry, which is regarded as one of the best restaurants in the world.  Unless you booked your reservation two or three months ago, you'll have to find another place for dinner.  Aside from that, Yountville is a gorgeous, quaint town that has great restaurants and shopping.


Rutherford is the small (really small) town between Yountville and St. Helena.  There are a couple of great restaurants here (Rutherford Grille) and wineries.

St. Helena

St. Helena is where most of the action is for wine tours.  There are wineries all along the outskirts of town and tasting rooms and great shopping downtown.


The town farthest north in the Napa Valley is Calistoga.  Here there are many great restaurants and shops along the downtown row.

Highway 29 and The Silverado Trail

Highway 29 and "The Trail" (as locals call it) are the roads that the majority of wineries are on.  The run parallel from Napa to Calistoga and are the routes that wine tours will take to get from one town to the next.

Recommended: Wine Country Map

Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Map and Guide (California Wine Region Maps)
Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Map and Guide (California Wine Region Maps)

Use this map to help plan your trip with the tour company.


Plan Your Trip

Take time to decide what you want to see and do while you're in Napa Valley.  Plan your budget accordingly.  Most wine tour companies allow you to customize your trip to see exactly what you want.

The Napa Valley Vintners is a great place to start your research.  Not every winery is included here, but the list is fairly comprehensive.

Take a look at the wine that you currently drink.  There is probably a few that you like that are made here in "Wine Country."  You'll have an even better time if you already enjoy the wine.  Plus, the knowledge that you'll get while in the tasting rooms will help you enjoy it even more!

Open To The Public Vs. Guided Tours

The jury is still out about which type of tour is better.  The folks who want to learn as much as they can about a certain wine will prefer the guided tours.  If you aren't a huge wine fan, a self guided tour might be better.  You can wander the grounds and soak it all in at your own pace.

Your tour company will make reservations for you if guided tours are what you choose.

Soak Up The Wine

Some time during all this you have to eat, right?

There are generally three options when it comes to eating during a tour; picnic lunch, reservations at a restaurant; or stop somewhere along the way.

The picnic lunch in a vineyard is a very scenic way to eat.  The tour company will usually provide a menu ahead of time for you to choose what you want to eat.  Generally this is the most affordable choice.

Reservations at a restaurant are perfect for private groups.  Most restaurants have a hard time handling tour bus crowds without advanced notice.  Your tour company should make the reservations for you.

Stopping somewhere along the way is the most fun and spontaneous way to go.  The hardest part is getting everyone to agree on where to stop!

Comments 3 comments

MarianG 6 years ago

Napa is a lot of fun!

funky23 5 years ago from Deutschland

is that true !

RichardCMckeown profile image

RichardCMckeown 5 years ago

I enjoyed virtual tour with your hub.

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