Aflurry of excitement and action is in the air during harvest and crush in the Napa Valley. The vineyards are bustling with hard working men and women picking ripe fruit as winemakers check for sugar levels, while de-stemmers and grape crushers work overtime, and the fragrance of freshly pressed juice is in the air. Combine all of this with a mild climate and a myriad of special events, excellent food, and harvest hotel packages, and it’s no wonder that early fall is often the busiest and one of the best times of the year to experience the Napa Valley.
For those looking to “get in on the action”, several wineries offer fun and interesting opportunities for guests to have an interactive experience. Try making wine the old-fashioned way by stomping on grapes, creating a custom blend, or experiencing a “day in the life” of harvest.
Round Pond Estate features a two-hour “Hands-On Harvest Experience” that includes a complete winery tour, winemaking, barrel tasting and wine tasting with a seasonal food pairing. They also offer “A Day in the Life” with winemaker Muiris Griffin, from vineyard to winery to barrel room, including an al fresco lunch paired with estate wines. At Grgich Hills, guests can climb barefoot into an old-fashioned barrel full of grapes where they can stomp to your heart’s content. While purple toes relax, guests enjoy a flight of three wines to celebrate their hard work. At the intimate Villa Ragazzi, guests enjoy a vineyard tour, a tasting and follow with a custom blending session with owners Michaela and Gregory Rodeno.
Other opportunities this time of year feature hands-on blending experiences, including the “Winemaker for a Day” at Raymond Vineyards, where participants create three different blends, select favorites and then bottle, cork, foil and affix a personally designed label onto the bottle. For those that want to capture the merlot resurgence, there is a blend your own merlot at Rutherford Hill Winery. At Judd’s Hill Winery’s “Bottle Blending Day Camp”, campers are led through a personal tasting, education and blending session, where they also bottle, label and spin a foil on that perfect blend, and for campers who want to spend more time up close and personal at a winery, Schramsberg’s Fall Harvest Camp is the ticket. From dining to tasting to learning about wine and food pairing, this annual three-day experience at historic Schramsberg always sells out and is a great education for foodies and wine lovers.
If “working” harvest or creating your own wine is not on your list, but a grand party is more to your liking, be sure to check out the many harvest parties, where the valley’s vintners create memorable events that celebrate this special time of year.
V. Sattui’s 130th Anniversary Harvest Ball on September 12th is a black-tie affair complete with live entertainment and an exquisite meal prepared by Michelin-star Chef Luca Collami of Genoa, Italy, paired with V. Sattui’s wine. If a more down-home party is more your style, kick up your heels at Rutherford Hill Winery’s Fourth Annual Barn Bash on September 13th with a barbecue, live music, games and other surprises. On September 19th, Peju Province Winery’s Harvest Celebration includes food, wine and dancing under the stars, and the Harvest Celebration Dinner at Pine Ridge Vineyards on October 24th takes you into their beautiful Cabernet Caves for a candlelit gourmet dinner.
For visitors to the Valley, the areas hotels and inns also celebrate the crush with custom packages to help create a memorable harvest time trip to the Napa Valley.
Milliken Creek Inn & Spa’s Harvest Napa Valley Package includes a three night stay, a five hour wine tour including a visit to the private Porter Family Vineyards, a spa treatment and many other perks. In Yountville, North Block Hotel has teamed up with Round Pond Estate for their Harvest Package that includes breakfast at Redd Wood and the hands-on winemaking and seasonal food pairing at Round Pond. Bardessono Hotel & Spa in Yountville offers a special package that includes a six hour chauffeured Tesla wine tour, including a visit to Gargiulo Vineyards and the owners’ private residence, the Raymond Vineyards experience and more.
The historic Brannan Cottage Inn includes deluxe accommodations, private picnic and a visit to Coquerel Family Wine Estate, and Charlie Palmer’s Harvest Inn has paired with Silver Oak winery for a gourmet getaway that includes a private tour and tasting, a personalized tasting menu at Palmer’s Harvest Table and more.
Other hotels and inns, including Hotel Yountville, The Meritage Resort and Spa, Silverado Resort & Spa, and the Cottage Grove Inn, offer packages that offer special harvest rates, and others that partner with area wineries, so guests can stay and play during crush season.
Visiting the Napa Valley and its wineries is magical any time of year, but there is something special about experiencing harvest. So whether you are a visitor or local, don’t forget to take it all in…the sights, sounds, smells and of course, tastes of the Napa Valley this harvest season! NVL