August 30, 2019
Arts & Culture
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, it’s not the holiday season, but there IS a lot to get excited about this time of year in Napa Valley. From August to October, the entire valley comes alive with activity as our beloved Napa wines complete their journey from dormant vine to juicy ripening grapes to distinctive varietals. The season starts with sparklings then whites, red varieties, and lastly, Napa’s varietal queen: cabernet season. It’s the dawn of a new vintage for one of the world’s premier winemaking regions. Magic happens up and down the valley all year, but this is when things really come alive. The oak barrels are lined up, the fall weather, idyllic. Grab your glass and get ready.
From vineyard to crush pad to glass, there’s a lot that happens along the way to producing a fine wine. Days start early, before the sun, and grapes are often picked all night. Picking in cooler temperatures keeps the grapes—and the workers!—cool, controlling the fermentation. Get up close and personal with the process at V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena, in the heart of Napa Valley. You’ll learn about the deep roots of this historic family and get a behind the scenes glimpse into the winery, which was founded in 1885, closed during the Prohibition, and is now an award-winning producer of small-batch wines. Throughout the harvest season, guests can watch grape sorting, de-stemming, and pressing. Our full-day Legacy Tour will take you there.
Ever want to be a winemaker for a day? Then you’ll want to make your way to Raymond Vineyards for an experience you can see, feel, taste, and touch. Artful and elegant, whimsical and fun, this is a whole other world of discovery, representing five generations of winemaking internationally. During harvest, guests can create three different blends of four different varietals, then bottle, cork, foil, and stick their own personally designed label onto the bottle. Want to linger awhile and enjoy lunch on the way? Hop aboard our half-day Raymond Winery Tour.
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Prefer to roll up your sleeves and do a little work? Jump in with both feet at Grgich Hills Estate
as they celebrate founder Mike Grgich’s roots in Croatia where he learned to crush grapes with his feet. During harvest (starting around Labor Day), you can stomp some grapes, enjoy a glass of Grgich Hills wine, and take home a souvenir t-shirt. Prefer to make a day of it with gourmet lunch on the Wine Train? Take our half-day Grgich Hills Winery Tour and hear all about how Grgich’s wine put Napa Valley on the map at the famous 1976 Paris Tasting, one of the Napa Valley’s most famous stories. Grgich is a true Napa Valley legend and one of the greatest winemakers in the world.
Crushing the grapes is not only fun, it’s also cause for celebration. Castello di Amorosa hosts its Harvest Celebration & Stomp on Friday, September 20, where you can take part in the grape stomp with live music and enjoy a rustic wine country dinner buffet paired with Castello wines. You can also visit Castello di Amorosa with our day-long Castle Winery Tour. And Saturday, October 5, don’t miss V. Sattui’s annual Crush Party, an old-fashioned grape stomp with live music, a live-fire Tuscan grill, wood-fired pizza ovens, and more than 45 wines to taste.
Speaking of celebrating, if it’s a party you’re looking for, then Inglenook’s annual Harvest Party on September 21 is for you. The sell-out event—which doubles as the formal release of the 2016 Rubicon—is held in Inglenook's gracious courtyard, festive with colorful décor and music filling the air. A dinner with seasonal menu by Estate Chef Alex Lovick takes place under the grape-covered pergola. Want to experience more of the warmth and charm of this celebrated winery? The Estate Tour makes a day of it, along with tours and tastings at two other wineries.
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Autumn Fête on September 21 at Robert Mondavi Winery pays homage to the annual garlic festival in small towns and villages of Provence, typically set at long tables in village squares. Celebrate Napa Valley’s wine harvest in similar style—a laid-back multi-course feast with grilled meats, seafood, fresh garden produce, and French-inspired desserts paired with golden aioli and fine Robert Mondavi Winery wines. To tour the winery, hop aboard our Legacy Tour.
Making a getaway of it? Stay at the lovely Napa River Inn at the historic Napa Mill on the waterfront, tuck yourself away among the vines and live the real wine country lifestyle at the beautiful Senza Hotel, or enjoy the serene natural setting of the elegant River Terrace Inn Napa, which also happens to be steps away from the best of downtown Napa.
Tours and tastings, harvest parties and balls, feasts and celebrations of all kinds. There’s something in the air during harvest season in Napa Valley, and it’s more than just the smells of harvest. It feels like you’re part of something special. After you soak up every vine picked, grape stomped, and final product sipped and savored (from a previous vintage of course), there is no doubt that you are.