First time coming out to Wine Country? It can be overwhelming to navigate logistics; etiquette; price expectations; food offerings etc. during the pandemic. Here's some general tips to make your day something to remember:
-Due to the current Covid crisis appointments will be required and wineries cannot accommodate anything more than groups of 6 at a time. Most wineries that close at 4-5 p.m. will have a last tasting scheduled at 3-3:30 p.m. so it's generally not possible to schedule a last minute drop in or tasting beyond that point. The handful of wineries that stay open till 6 p.m. will have a last tasting scheduled at 4:30-5 p.m.
-Picnicking at wineries is generally prohibited so best to schedule a sit down lunch somewhere else unless the winery offers a food/wine pairing.
-Be aware that tastings are exclusively outside and conditions in the afternoon can be anywhere from the 80s in temperature to the mid 90s from May to October. Best to plan for afternoon tastings in the southern napa valley or southern sonoma where it can be cooler
-Tasting fees in Napa will average from $45 pp on up. Also bottle prices can range from $35-300. Club signups will avoid some tasting fees but keep these costs in mind when booking a Napa visit. Sonoma County is still in the $25-$45 pp range for tasting fees depending on the experience and bottle prices range from $20-175. The policy for refunding tastings with purchases is also much more liberal in Sonoma than in Napa Valley. This does not mean quality is better in one area than the other or that one is more greedy than the other. These are the general costs and worth thinking about when planning a wine country visit.
-Tipping in tasting rooms is generally not expected (though appreciated). Wine club signups and purchases are a way to show how much you enjoyed the experience if someone did a good job. So if you feel like tipping feel free but it is not a common practice.
WINERY OF THE MONTH
When you're up in Howell Mountain make sure to visit Steve up at Bravante Vineyards. It is still possible to have a unique boutique experience without breaking the bank. I find the price to quality ratio to be one of the best in Napa Valley. You won't regret it!! My favorite is their Cabernet Franc. More info at the website below: