Getting Ready for Your Napa Experience

House at the end of a napa valley vineyard covered in mustard flower

For most wine drinkers going to Napa is like approaching the gates to the kingdom of a celebrated friend. Wine is part of our special occasions and routinely a bit of comfort at the end of a long day. For many it’s favorite part of the day or at least the weekend to open a bottle and savor the flavors that seemingly dance in the glass.

When you decide to head to Napa there’s far more to consider in your preparation than where you’re going to stay and getting transportation arranged through Napa Valley Tours & Transportation (NVTT). You should give some thought to what your priorities are for the wine tasting part of your trip.

For planning where you want to visit amidst the countless Napa Valley wineries consider the following:

Are you searching for special experiences or attractions at the wineries? For instance if you are a movie buff Inglenook’s movie relics from Francis Ford Coppola’s career and wine industry history might make the winery a destination. Music lovers could be intrigued by the gallery collection Rolling Stone covers from the 1960s through the 1970s on display this year at Markham Vineyard’s Gallery.

Want to experience that most talked about bottle? If you like to follow the latest trends in wine and hot spots then you’ll want to check out publications like Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Food & Wine, Parker or even tasting notes from where you shop. To see what’s hot and the highest scores in latest reviews. You’re not alone in the desire to see what others like before heading out. According to the Wine Market Council 2014 study 56% of millennials, 42% of Gen X’ers, 21% of Baby Boomers and 15% 69+ saw wine reviews as important to their wine purchase decision. Of course this importance on reviews (friends or professional reviews) trends higher for the millennials when it comes to just about any topic.

Overwhelmed by all the types of wines at many wineries? Consider making your trip focus on a particular varietal of course in Napa you can’t go wrong with Cabernet Sauvignon or for a refreshing twist do a day, or an entire trip, focusing on the amazing bounty of delicious sparkling wines. NVTT had a group of guests recently do 3 days of sparkling tours and tasting experiences. At the very least you should consider starting your day with bubbles from one of the highly rated sparkling wineries.

One of the most common mistakes I’ve seen people make and I made it myself when I began experiencing wine regions, was to schedule too many wineries in one day. Remember you and your taste buds will tire along the way. Allow time for lunch, so you can help compensate for the wine and refresh a bit before going to afternoon stops. I find one or two stops in the morning and then 2 more in the afternoon allow me to taste the wines and recognize attributes that appeal to me. Of course it also is impacted by whether you are trying everything offered in flights or just one or two varietals.

Once you’ve decided your’e on your Napa winery itinerary (remember NVTT can help you schedule your visits and make recommendations) refresh yourself on how to really make the most of the wine tasting experience. Some of the tried and true ways to taste are shown in this You Tube posted video by Wine Spectator https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDPtrQogsP8.

Don’t forget to plan for getting that wine you fall in love with back home. Wineries will ship for you, but that can add up fast. Depending on how much you plan to purchase you might consider buying wine luggage that can be checked like luggage but has customized packaging for bottles. The bags are often sold at many of the wineries for less than you can buy them online. Remember that sparkling wines may not fit in the wine luggage, so you may opt to ship that or get wine sleeves to put it in your regular luggage. You can leave the wine bags with your NVTT chauffeur and it will be kept in the air conditioned car while you do your tasting, so no worry about ruining the wine you look forward to enjoying at home.

We look forward to seeing you in Napa for a wine trip soon. Harvest is upon us and your adventure awaits.