The 12 Days Of Napa

Christmas table decor on the Napa Valley Wine Train table

Twelve Wonderful Ways To Celebrate The Holidays In Napa Valley

November 7, 2018
Arts & Culture

Spring blooms, summer is full of life, fall is harvest, and while it’s not exactly the region’s golden season, there’s nothing like winter in Napa Valley, and the holidays in particular. It’s less crowded, so exploring wineries almost feels like you’re getting the VIP treatment. The wine is always delicious, and the views always take your breath away. It feels calm, cozy, and festive without even trying. But the best part? There are so many fun holiday events to take advantage of. So embrace sweater weather, snuggle up around a fire pit with a fine cabernet, and make yourself very comfortable for what is clearly the most wonderful time of the year in Napa Valley.

1. Winter in the Wineries

December 1, 2018–February 3, 2019

Complimentary wine tasting flights at 17 Calistoga wineries (including Napa Valley Wine Train favorite, Castello di Amorosa). No corkage fee at participating restaurants. Discounts at select lodging, spas, and shops. A Winter in the Wineries Passport allows you to experience all of the best things about the unique Calistoga wine region with significant savings. Known for its geothermal hot spring pools, world-class wines, intimate B&Bs, and exclusive resorts, the charming town of Calistoga has much to offer. Don’t know where to start? Check out the suggested itineraries that will take you from indulgent mud baths and peaceful cottages to boutique shops and inspired dinners with ease.

2. Calistoga Holiday Village & Christmas Faire

Friday, November 30, 4:00–8:00 p.m. – Tree Lighting Street Faire
Saturday, December 1, 2018, 9:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. – 49th Annual Calistoga Christmas Faire
Saturday, December 1, 2018, 7:00–8:00 p.m.– 23rd Annual Calistoga Lighted Tractor Parade
Sunday, December 2, 2018 – Holiday Brunch Menus at participating restaurants

Come for the day or stay the whole weekend. Santa stops by the Tree Lighting Street Faire, making his grand arrival on a lighted tractor. Hop aboard the Holly Trolley, a festively decorated, hand-built California Street Cable Car replica, for the Holiday Lights Tour where you get to vote for your favorite decorated homes and storefronts. “Follow the Gingerbread Man” for a cookie and wine pairing contest, have your photo taken with Santa, and kick off your holiday shopping at downtown boutiques. At the Christmas Faire, enjoy cookie and cupcake decorating, posada activities, performers, movies and popcorn, story time, a gingerbread house contest, and more. There will be artisans and crafters and DIY crafts, festive food, lots of holiday cheer, and no shortage of treats! Be sure to stick around for the evening, you won’t want to miss the vintage and modern tractors, antique trucks, and construction equipment decked out with twinkling lights making their way down the town’s charming main street.

3. Castello di Amorosa: New Year's Eve Casino Royale

Monday, December 31, 2018, 7:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.

If you’re looking to ring in the New Year in impeccable style and ambience, we’ve got the event for you. The meticulously constructed Castello di Amorosa, a 13th-century medieval Tuscan castle and winery, is the perfect host for this black-tie New Year’s Eve Casino Royale. Once you cross the moat, you’ll feel like you’ve entered another world. The property’s most elegant evening, you arrive to a luxurious red-carpet welcome to card and dice games, a decadent 5-course plated dinner, sweet wines and dessert, and dancing into the night with live music from Vibe Society in the Great Hall and a DJ in the Chapel. Complimentary shuttles are available to Calistoga Hotels, and of course, a glass of Spumante for a midnight toast.

4. Robert Mondavi Winery's 8th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting and Celebration

Saturday, December 1, 2018, 3:00–5:00 p.m.

As one of Napa’s leading wineries, the Robert Mondavi Winery is skilled in the art of making fine wine. Turns out, they are also quite skilled at hosting holiday celebrations. More than just a tree lighting, here you’ll find wine tasting, hot apple cider, carols with the Vintage High School Chamber Singers, Italian cookies, cheese and charcuterie appetizers, Jingle Bell Jazz in the To Kalon Reserve Room, and the lighting of the winery tree. To top it all off, enjoy horse and buggy rides through the To Kalon vineyard, one of the finest first-growth vineyards in the world. To Kalon is Ancient Greek for "the highest beauty.” Come and see how aptly this breathtaking place is named. What a way to welcome the holiday season.

5. Napa Valley’s Cabernet Season


The holidays fall in the midst of Cabernet Season in Napa Valley, which stretches from mid fall to spring, and is a beautiful time to savor the region. Temperatures are mild, grapes have been harvested, and while the vines might be dormant, the region’s flagship varietal, cabernet sauvignon, becomes available, making tasting rooms come alive with rich, full-bodied flavor. What better way to sample the region’s signature glass than with the Napa Valley Wine Train’s Legacy Tour featuring a stop at the legendary Robert Mondavi Winery and some of the finest cabernet sauvignon wines in the world. Or hop onboard the Estate Tour which stops at Hall Winery for a taste of their world-class, award-winning wines. It may be cool and crisp outside, but you’ll be cozy and comfortable inside.

6. Holidays in Yountville

November 19, 2018–January 1, 2019

Come see why Yountville is affectionately known as the Brightest Town in Napa Valley during the holidays. Glowing with thousands of twinkling holiday lights, holiday music fills the air, and shops, hotels and tasting rooms are festively decorated. The charming town’s holiday calendar is jam-packed with holiday favorites, featuring dozens of events, activities, performances, holiday movies, photos with Santa, holiday sign making classes, Nutcracker performances, a Broadway holiday spectacular, ugly sweater parties, SantaCon Yountville, free carriage rides, Santa’s workshop, and more. A magical time to visit, indeed.

7. Gingerbread Ranch Decorating

Sunday, November 25, 2018, 10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.

Longmeadow Ranch in scenic St. Helena really gets into the holiday spirit with apple cider, hot cocoa, and festive cookie decorating. But these aren’t ordinary cookies. The Farmstead is looking for help to fill the Farmstead Gingerbread Ranch with farm animals! Add a gingerbread cow, pig, chicken, or horse to the Gingerbread Ranch … and take one or two home with you when you go. Sip on mimosas and coffee for breakfast at the Café before decorating or linger at the restaurant for a delicious brunch when you’ve finished your masterpieces.

8. 12th Annual Hanukkah Hootenanny

Sunday December 09, 2018, 12:00–2:30 p.m.

Judd’s Hill Napa Valley is known for its signature, fruit-driven limited production wines. Owned and operated by two generations of the Finkelstein family, whose motto is, “having a good time making great wine with family”. Well here’s your chance to join them for a great time. Sip current vintages and library wines. Enjoy beef brisket sliders and an extravagant latke bar. Satisfy your sweet tooth with traditional jelly donuts. A lively sell-out event known for its fine company and grand entertainment, the Hanukkah Hootenanny is also a benefit for Community Health Initiative, Napa Country ( ) Guests are encourages to bring new, unwrapped toys and canned, non-perishable food items for local Napa charities.

9. St. Helena Jingle All the Way

December 1–28, 2018

It's coming on Christmas—do you wish you had a river to skate away on? Take in some festive fun—and yes, ice skating!—at the first annual Jingle All the Way event in Lyman Park in the heart of St. Helena. There may not be snowflakes in the air but this month of holiday festivities will definitely have joyful memories with music, wine, food trucks, holiday parties, and even an appearance from Santa Claus himself. Oh, what fun you'll have skating and celebrating together with friends and family in St. Helena this holiday season.

10. Meadowood 12 Days of Christmas

December 7–22, 2018

We may be doing the 12 Days of Napa, but no one does the 12 Days of Christmas like luxury Napa Valley resort Meadowood and its well-earned Michelin 3-star restaurant. Like a fine-dining advent calendar, Meadowood’s 12 Days of Christmas is an exciting dinner series with an incredible line-up of influential guest chefs from around the world. Chefs from Puerto Rico, Singapore, and Los Angeles, to London, Denmark, and Slovenia… and everywhere in between are invited to collaborate with Chef Christopher Kostow, each bringing their own regional cooking styles, using products and inspiration from the Napa Valley. The results are decadent, extraordinary, and very delicious. From the moment you open the door and are handed a glass of champagne, mingle with other guests, meet guest chefs, and take in unbelievable food, impeccable flavors, and great wines. It’s also a charitable celebration, with proceeds going to Saint Helena Preschool for All, Inc. Guests are also encouraged to bring unwrapped toys with them to dinner, which be distributed to the preschool as well as to Fire Departments throughout the Napa Valley. An event with warmth and style in the heart of the mountain valley.

Performers sing and dance on stage in a holiday show.

11. Santa Train

November 19–December 28, 2018
(except Thanksgiving, November 22, and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day)

Of course, no holiday in Napa Valley is complete without a two-hour ride to Santa’s village and workshop in the North Pole aboard the Santa Train! Holiday elves have been busy transforming the Wine Train into an enchanting journey. Sip hot cocoa and munch freshly baked cookies. Enjoy games, sing-alongs, and a fun cast of characters. And even a little toy bear for the children to take home. Little faces will fill with joy, pressed against the glass, eager to get to their destination. Whether the Santa Train is a new family tradition or a yearly rite-of-passage, it’s a memorable interactive musical adventure in an elegant and nostalgic setting that adds a little sparkle and a lot of magic to the holiday season. Don’t forget your letters to Santa!

12. The Nutcracker

Saturday & Sunday, December 15 & 16, 2018

In the mood for a timeless holiday classic? The Napa Regional Dance Company’s beloved production of The Nutcracker is back for its 18th season at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater. Larger than life scenery, elaborate costumes, and dancing toy soldiers. Watch this endearing ballet unfold to Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, brought to life by Symphony Napa Valley. Join Clara and her Nutcracker Prince on an enchanted journey through the Snow Flake Forest to The Land of Sweets with the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier for a truly magical tradition.

As you can see, there is plenty to see, do, and enjoy this holiday season in Napa Valley. Which ones are on your wish list?

Santa Clause waves from the Napa Valley Wine Train

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