Tips From A Local: Visiting Napa On A Budget

August 9, 2020

We answer lots of emails from family, friends, friends of friends and friends of friends of friends to help them put together an itinerary to visit Napa Valley. (You know who you are!) 

Why do they ask us? 

Well, not only do we have the local insider scoop, but we at DG Events are forever advocating for our clients, this means a large portion of our job consists of scouting new locations, restaurants, and activities. 

While our industry is on hold, we love to share our wealth of knowledge and hopefully inspire some memorable trips to our favorite valley! So, without further ado, here is the best of our secret list of “How To Visit Napa On A Budget”. 

First, we always focus on what a vacation looks like to the inquirer…

Why are you visiting Napa Valley?

Most people are visiting for the wine and food, but we want to make sure.

Where are you staying in Napa Valley?

This is very important! The valley is larger than most people think. You want to spend less time driving and more time experiencing what Napa has to offer. We focus on building daily itineraries around your accommodations location. Or, if you’re looking for a suggestion of where to stay, we can help there too!

Do you want to enjoy wine tasting while visiting Napa Valley? YES

What is most important to you when wine tasting?

  1. I want to experience Napa’s wine country tasting wine and touring wineries, not sure if I will buy wine
  2. I can’t wait to taste and purchase affordable wines to take home with me 
  3. I want to see amazing views of the valley and taste high-end wines. I would like to purchase wine to add to my cellar

What kind of wine do you enjoy?

Napa Valley  produces some of the world’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon. There are plenty of white wines as well, including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and other interesting varietals. If you like these wine varietals, you are coming to the right place!

Keeping these questions in mind, this blog is mostly for the type A or B wine traveler. Napa Valley can be an expensive trip, but there are ways to see Napa and still not break the bank.

Our list compiles places to stay, taste, eat and still have some money to take a few bottles of wine home! If you are looking for a more high-end wine and food experience, try our other Napa blog: Tips From A Local Please note: While there are many affordable places to stay, eat, and drink in the valley, we have pared down our list to guarantee wherever you chose has DG Event’s seal of approval.

Accommodations in Calistoga (North part of the valley) are usually the most economical choice. It’s a little further from the SFO airport (if you are flying in) and a little quieter than most Napa Valley towns, but you can save a few hundred bucks a night on lodging.

Our favorites: 

Calistoga Inn 

Calistoga Motor Lodge

Indian Springs 

Most wineries use VinoVisit, Tock or CellarPass to make it quick and easy to book reservations. Our recommendations below are for tasting appointments that range between $20- $40 per person and usually include 3-5 wines as part of the tasting.

Use this Napa Winery Map to help navigate the area, I always send this to friends and event clients who are visiting (click to enlarge and download).

Napa Valley Wineries Map

CALISTOGA

Dutch Henry (casual tasting, dog friendly, bring a picnic and enjoy it while playing bocce)

Tank Garage Winery (coolest ambiance in an old gas station, interesting labels and blends)

T-Vine Winery (casual tasting with views of the vineyard)

ST. HELENA

Hall Winery (modern visitor center with with many different wines to choose from)

Orin Swift (interesting blends and labels by the dynamic winemaker, Dave Phinney)

Salvestrin Winery (family owned, very charming estate winery)

Long Meadow Ranch (wine tasting, olive oil tasting and a restaurant in a beautiful barn)

RUTHERFORD

Honig Vineyard + Winery (try their wonderfully popular Sauvignon Blanc)

NAPA

Azur Wines (an old barn tucked away with great design features and the best Rose in the valley)

Saintsbury Winery (sweeping views of Carneros vineyards and seated tastings hosted in their rustic cellar)

Trefethen Winery (historic Oak Knoll property producing estate grown, highly regarded wines)

Whetstone Wine Cellars (casual, laid back tasting under the trees with a bottle/glass service option and picnic friendly during Covid)

There are many amazing restaurants in Napa Valley and you don’t have to spend a lot to eat delicious food. Below are some of our favorites for casual dining at prices below $20 per person. For a list of more restaurants in several price points see our other Napa blog.

CALISTOGA

Cafe Saraforina (breakfast)

Calistoga Inn (breakfast/lunch/dinner)

Sam’s Social Club at Indian Springs (breakfast/lunch/dinner)

HELENA

Gotts (lunch/dinner)

Model Bakery (breakfast/desserts)

YOUNTVILLE 

Bouchon Bakery (breakfast/lunch/desserts)

Mini Model (breakfast/desserts)

Southside Yountville  (breakfast/lunch)

NAPA

Oxbow Public Market 

-C Casa (breakfast/lunch/dinner)

-Gotts (lunch/dinner)

-Kitchen Door (breakfast/lunch/dinner)

Genova Deli (to go sandwiches)

Gran Electrica (dinner)

Heritage Eats  (lunch/dinner) 

Southside Napa (2 locations – breakfast/lunch)

Enjoy your trip! X, DG Events

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