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Summer in Napa Valley

Paris posts will be coming shortly, but while I am busy suffering withdrawals from croissants, enjoy this guest post by Christina Loiacono on one of my top wanderlist destinations, Napa Valley!  

Napa in the summer has a reputation for being similar to a Disney theme park over spring break: traffic en route to the wineries can be as time-consuming as waiting in lines. However, there are many great things about summer in Napa that you just cannot get during other seasons. The weather is ideal: it is dry, with sunny and warm days followed by refreshing and cool nights. The vineyards are picture-perfect with rows and rows of lush green vines. Sure, there are wine tastings and tours available year-round, but come summertime in the valley you will also find live music, special events, and a whole variety of warm-weather recreation possibilities. All things considered, it is hard to want to visit at any other time of the year.


Vineyards in the summer by flickr user needoptic

The Music

Summertime in Napa Valley is filled with a variety of outdoor live music and performances. These events combine the area’s perfect weather and scenic settings with local wine and culinary delights. The combination of sights, sounds, tastes, and smells will truly awaken your senses. And do not worry about missing out because of your schedule, because there is at least one show going on every week.

Bottle Rock Napa Valley– Back for a second year, this three-day event takes place the weekend after Memorial Day. Despite being a newer event, it has quickly built a reputation for itself via all the big-name performers, local eats, wine, and beer it brings to the Napa Expo Downtown.

Bottle Rock

Bottle Rock 2013 by flickr user jessicasarahs

Festival del Sole – A 10-day festival of music, theater, and dance that takes place in mid-July. VIP passes do not come cheap, but they grant access to vintner’s luncheons and winery dinners throughout the festival.

Music in the Vineyards– Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the three-week chamber music festival takes place at the beginning of August. Performances are held at a variety of vineyards throughout the area and feature complimentary tastings at intermission.

Summer Concerts at Long Meadow Ranch – These typically feature singer-songwriters, string bands and local artists, and are held select Sundays at Long Meadow’s St. Helena location. Stop by early to enhance the experience by visiting their tasting room at the Logan-Ives House or having a farm-to-table dining experience at their restaurant, Farmstead, before the show!

Concert Series at Robert Mondavi Winery– Select Fridays and Saturdays from the end of June through July. Performers have varied over the series 45-year history, but the Preservation Hall Jazz Band out of New Orleans is often a regular. Whether you attend for just the show, or choose to make an evening out of it by including their wine cellar reception and family-style dinner, you cannot go wrong!

The Concerts at Wente Vineyards– They have a reputation for bringing in well-known artists, and this year is no exception. Concerts take place on select weekdays and feature artists like the Beach Boys, Tony Bennett, and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The outdoor amphitheater is filled with table seating, allowing most guests to indulge in a full dining experience during the show.

The Food

Eating your way through a destination is a fun way to discover new tastes and get to know the place you are visiting. Summer in Napa is especially great for foodies because many of the wineries, shops, and vendors offer up something special to celebrate the season.

Take the Oxbow Public Market, for example. It is a foodie destination on its own, but on Tuesdays and Saturdays from May through October you’ll also find the Napa Farmers Market right next door! Even if you’re traveling and cannot take any fresh produce with you, it is still worth it to stop by. At 10 a.m. you can catch a chef demonstration and then stick around to have lunch at an artisan cafe in the marketplace!

Oxbow Public Market

Oxbow Public Market by flickr user prayitnophotography

Many of the valley’s vineyards and wineries also get involved in the summertime foodie fun. The Lobster Feed on the Terrace at Schweiger Vineyards and the Festa Italiana at V. Sattui Winery are just two of the many special events you will find. It’s not just the wineries either! Quench your thirst with a microbrew at Blues, Brews, and BBQ in heart of Downtown.

The Outdoors

Rainy season in Napa runs from November through April, which makes planning outdoor recreation during this time a bit of a gamble. And while you can certainly go wine tasting in the rain, having wet outerwear with you is not ideal. Summertime visits are a sure way to avoid this dreary weather. You might have a few more people to navigate through, but Mother Nature will be on your side in terms of the clothes you need to pack, the views you’ll get exploring the wineries to their fullest, and the treks you can take on in the great outdoors.

Napa’s landscape is fantastic for hiking, especially in the valley’s state parks. The short hike between Bothe-Napa Valley and Bale Grist Mill allows you to explore many sites of interest including the Native American Plant Garden and White Church Cemetery, and the restored grist mill that’s over 150 years old! For a more challenging hike, you can visit Robert Louis Stevenson State Park where you can climb to the top of Mt. Saint Helena!

Bale Grist Mill

Bale Grist Mill Wikimedia Commons

Bicyclists can also enjoy a whole range of options all the way up the valley from Napa to Yountville to St. Helena to Calistoga. These include a variety of rentals for a casual day out exploring and guided tours that provide narration as you pedal through the lush vineyards and rolling hills.

Have you ever been to Napa or is it somewhere you are looking to go in the future? 

By Christina Loiacono, travel enthusiast, wine lover, and expert in American travel with the folks at where they also have more recommendations for visiting Napa Valley. This post was inspired by the Classic California trip to visit big name destinations such as San Francisco, Napa, Sonoma, and Yosemite National Park on Bridget’s wanderlist.


6 Comments Post a comment
  1. This is one of my favorite places to visit, I will have to look into finding one of these live music events when I go back!

    May 29, 2014
    • Yes, the music events look fantastic! I cannot wait to find some when I visit too!

      June 2, 2014
  2. Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren #

    I’ve wanted to visit Napa Valley for years! I live in Southern California too so it’s totally doable! Thanks for sharing.

    Happy travels 🙂

    May 31, 2014
    • Me too, Lauren! I cannot believe I have not made it there yet. While I do not live as close as you, it is still close enough for a weekend trip. Christina did a great job convincing me I need to go there soon!

      June 2, 2014

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