5 Plans for a Most Perfect Napa Weekend, Because Harvest Season

Blue skies, barrels o’ wine and … ATVs?

Napa Valley Harvest Weekend
Vineyard views at the Harvest Inn
Harvest Inn
By Diane Rommel / September 19, 2019 9:01 am

It’s harvest season. There’s no better time to come to Napa — especially if you like parties, special events, barbecues, ATV tours of wineries, and plush hotels with vineyard views. (And fire pits. And volcanic-ash mud baths.) 

The season lasts the next six weeks, with myriad grape stomps, terrace tours and winemaking workshops. Below, you’ll find the best events — and because nothing says “ripeness of the season” like finishing the day in a private cottage with a fireplace, we’ve paired each event with a five-star hotel experience. Life should always be so easy. 

The Terraces
(The Terraces)

Option #1: ATVs + private tours in Rutherford

Climb aboard the six-person Kawasaki Mule, and you’ll tour The Terraces, a family-owned vineyard on the eastern slope of the Vaca Mountains. Of the 100+ acres, only a quarter are devoted to vines; the rest are occupied by photogenic fruit orchards, apiaries and gardens. The tour concludes with two tastings: first balsamic vinegars, then wine. Stay at the nearby Harvest Inn, where the Vineyard Views rooms look out on the surrounding vineyards (there’s a fireplace, too). If you’re not feeling the ATV tour, the Harvest Inn can arrange a private six-hour tour of nearby wineries, including chauffeured car service and a concierge-designed itinerary. 

Hotel Healdsburg
(Hotel Healdsburg)

Option #2: Fancy outdoor eating + winemaking workshops

Hotel Healdsburg offers some of the swankiest rooms in Wine Country, and during the harvest season, the amenities are even better than usual. Come up mid-week for fancy al fresco dining — as they call it, “Summer Harvest Picnics” — and bring your own bottle of wine if you like. Through October 27, the hotel hosts two weekend winemaking workshops: “aroma sessions” on Friday evenings and “blending workshops” on Sundays, both with local sommelier Sandi Lucchesi

Olea
(Olea)

Option #3: Launch your winemaking career 

If your post-acquisition plan involves moving to Napa and bottling your own vintage, you can skip to the good stuff right now at Raymond Vineyards’ “blend-off event” on October 5. First you’ll get a primer on winemaking basics, and then you’ll mix up your own blend, which will be judged by winemaker Stephanie Putnam. The winner takes home six bottles of the vineyard’s District Cabernet Sauvignons, and ideally, a new career. Stay at the Olea in Glen Ellen, which can further supplement your harvest experience with a Land Rover tour of Sonoma Valley wineries

Rutherford Winery
(Rutherford Winery)

Option #4: Barbecue + hot springs + volcanoes (at least the mud) 

If you believe, correctly, that wine is best enjoyed at a barbecue, Rutherford Ranch Winery is hosting exactly that on September 28 to celebrate the season. Live music, too, if that’s your thing. Afterward, tuck into a bath of volcanic mud at the Indian Springs in Calistoga, our favorite Wine Country hotel. Don’t forget that beyond the gorgeous, made-for-Instagram, hot springs-heated pool is another, smaller one, just for adults. 

Carneros Resort
(Carneros Resort & Spa)

Option #5: Pinot + private cottage + fire pit

While grapes for sparkling wine are picked as early as August, harvest season lasts all the way through early November. Etude Wines will both celebrate the harvest and the release of its 2017 Pinot Noir on November 9 — with winemaker Jon Priest signing magnum bottles. You’ll definitely want to stay at the Carneros Resort and Spa — maybe in a cottage, with a private porch, firepit and backyard garden.