Napa Valley in Fall

  • 01 of 03

    Napa Valley at Harvest Time

    A California Vineyard in Fall
    A California Vineyard in Fall. Courtesy of the California Wine Institute

    Harvest time is one of Napa's busiest. That's true for winery personnel, as I know from personal experience: a winemaker friend of mine 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...MORE 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.

    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 Estate winery hosts 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.

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  • 02 of 03

    Napa Valley in Fall After the Harvest

    Foggy Day in Napa Valley
    Foggy Day in Napa Valley. James Walsh/Flickr/CC BY-NC 2.0

    After harvest, things start to quiet down in Wine Country. Relieved of their grapes, the vines start to go dormant, their leaves turning red and gold. In some years, we think they're as pretty as all that fall foliage that gets New England so much attention.

    Napa Valley Weather in Fall

    For our purposes, fall in Napa starts after Labor Day1 and runs through October.

    Temperatures start to drop, with highs dropping from mid 80s °F into the high 60s by end of October. Lows vary less, dropping just a few degrees from the mid-50s. In a wet year, rains start in October, but on the average, that's still one of the drier months.

    Pros and Cons of Going to Napa in Fall

    Autumn is one of our favorite times in Wine Country, busy enough to have a nice ambiance, but not over-packed. As the temperatures cool, outdoor dining on a heated patio feels especially cozy, and restaurants bring out their new menus featuring seasonal foods.

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  • 03 of 03

    More Seasons in Napa

    Napa Vineyards in Autumn
    Napa Vineyards in Autumn. David W. Hamilton / Getty Images

    Fall is a great time to go to Napa for the grape harvest —and the fall color in the vineyards. 

    If you go to Napa in Winter, you find it quiet and you can get lots of personalized attention in the tasting rooms. 

    Napa in Summer is the busiest time of the year (and the hottest). 

    Napa in Spring is newly green and the spring-blooming mustard can be spectacular.