How to Visit Napa Valley Safely during COVID-19
So you want to get out of the house safely…
But where will you go? What will you do?
Here are some tips from a Napa Valley local!
If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you’ve probably been to Napa Valley one time or another. Whether you have or haven’t, a day-trip to Napa is exactly what the doctor ordered. Did the doctor order that? We don’t know but we think they should. Read on for the top reasons to take a one-day trip to Napa and how exactly to fill your time while you’re here.
I’ve lived in Napa for 7 years and in the Bay Area for 22. I own Danielle Gibson Events, an event company who plans, designs, and produces weddings, social celebrations and corporate events in Napa Valley, the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. I am continually scouting out new locations, restaurants, and wineries which keeps me well informed as to the best Napa has to offer. So, without further ado, here is a part of my secret list that I usually only share with close friends and clients.
First, I would recommend, don’t fly anywhere right now unless it’s an emergency situation. I am not an expert in Covid-19, but I have watched hours of news on television, read many emails dumped into my inbox and been a participant on several Zoom calls about the topic. It seems scary to fly, so take the scare out of your vacation and stay local. SF Bay Area → Napa, EASY!
Second, visit locations where you can be outside. Remember that place called outside? Sit in the sun, have something to eat and drink and just enjoy the world around you. Guess where the best place to do that is? NAPA. Napa vineyards started to push buds at the end of March so grape growing is in full swing and is beautiful to see. The weather is amazing, come experience it for yourself.
Third, WINE. Are you sick of WFH (This has a new meaning…WINE From Home not WORKING From Home, but I am sure you are sick of working from home too!) Well, now you can finally stop buying supermarket wines and visit the wineries themselves for the newest releases. All wineries in Napa during this Covid-19 world ONLY have tastings by appointment. When planning your trip please call in advance to make an appointment and confirm they are open the time you are visiting. Select the winery that’s right for you. What kind of wine do you like? What is your price range? Please note, private tastings have all different price points. When visiting a winery, do the right thing: buy a bottle or 2 and leave a tip for your host.
Use this Napa Winery Map to help navigate the area, I always send this to friends and clients who are visiting (click to enlarge and download).
Plan to do no more than 2 wineries a day. Each wine tasting will be about 1-1.5 hours long. Many people get excited about visiting wineries and want to try as many wineries as possible when visiting. This is a big mistake. You end up being on a tight schedule instead of enjoying your time. Also, more than 2 wineries is too much drinking and you want to make sure you have a designated driver who is taking care of getting you around safely. If you need to hire a driver I recommend Napa Valley Wine Excursions.
Here is my secret locals list. But PLEASE be safe when you are visiting. Wear a face covering and keep 6-feet distance from others and travel in small groups. We have low Covid-19 case numbers (right now when writing this it was about 400+ cases and 4 deaths, one of the lowest in the San Francisco Bay Area) let’s keep it that way!
Recommended Wineries – Going from South to North
Oak Knoll (pictured above)
Rutherford/Oakville (pictured above)
St. Helena (pictured above)
Calistoga (pictured above)
Four, where to eat? There are many restaurants in Napa Valley that have stayed open during Covid-19 pivoting their business to take-out orders. To keep your day trip more about relaxing and less about driving, try to keep your meals in a location near the wineries you are visiting.
When visiting see if restaurants are open for lunch and dinner or just doing take-out orders, as this is changing weekly.
Where to eat in Napa Valley
- Bistro Don Giovanni
- Bounty Hunter
- Gran Electrica
- Oxbow Market
- Small World
- The Dutch Door
Where to eat in Yountville
Where to eat in St. Helena
I hope you choose Napa as your next destination!