If you have oenophile tastes but a beer budget, you may think Napa is out of reach. Luckily for you, you’d be wrong. While California’s wine country is notoriously pricey, it’s still possible to sample Napa’s pleasures of the vine without breaking the bank. Here are five tips to stretch your vacation dollars.
Stay South to Save Cash
The valley’s wine industry workers live in the cluster of towns strung along Highway 29, which is also where you’ll find the best selection of lodgings. The further north you go, the more costly the rooms become. Choose a Napa hotel like the Springhill Suites by Marriott Napa Valley over properties further north in Napa Valley. You can also save money by finding properties away from the highway. To get Napa’s best hotel deals, book as early as possible.
Look for Coupons
If you’re going to Napa, you’re going to go wine tasting. This can get very pricey in Napa Valley; fortunately, many wineries offer two-for-one coupons online and in various Napa print publications. In an area where a tasting at one of the top-tier wineries can run $50 or more per person, you can save a bundle with two-for-one deals. Local Wally’s, an online resource, aggregates all the special offers, freebies, and discounts at the valley’s most popular wineries and restaurants. Be sure to ask if they waive the tasting fee if you purchase a bottle of wine.
Pack a Picnic
Instead of having lunch or dinner at one of the area’s excellent restaurants, pack a picnic lunch of nibbles and small bites to enjoy on the go. Most wineries have lovely terraces, decks, and scenic areas where you can enjoy a bottle of wine and bask in the valley’s natural beauty. A little al fresco snacking is a great way to get the most out of your winery tours while saving money and keeping you fortified for a day on the wine trail. Hotels in Sonoma, a wine community west of Napa, are also economical and a smart option to save.
Get Off the Beaten Path
For truly amazing winery tours and tasting at unbeatable prices, look for the smaller wineries up in the hills and away from the Highway 29 corridor and the Silverado Trail. Tiny Nichelini Winery is a bit of a hike, but the wines are fabulous and the price is right: $15 for a tasting for two with coupon. Be sure to download Napa’s Winery Finder app to help you find the best boutique wineries.
Plan One Non-Wine Event
It’s easy to blow your budget on the dazzling array of wineries, so plan to spend at least one afternoon or evening at a fixed-price event. Napa has many cultural attractions; tickets to a concert at the Uptown Napa Theatre or Raven Performing Arts Theatre are reasonably priced and a great way to unwind and detoxify after a day of imbibing.
Have you done Napa on a budget? Share your tips — and your favorite Napa winery — in the comments below.
Sheila Westin is a freelance travel writer and food blogger who writes about the charms, cuisine, and culture of the places she visits. When she’s not on the road, Sheila enjoys exploring the excellent restaurants and jazz clubs of her native Washington, DC. Sheila is a writer for the #HipmunkCityLove project.