Wine Tasting Tour in Napa Valley — An Essential Guide for Beginners

Napa Valley, located in northern California, is a favorite tourist destination for a number of reasons. However, taking a wine tasting tour through the picturesque Napa Valley wine tour is by far the most popular.

Winemaking in Napa Valley dates back to the mid 1830s, when the first commercial vineyards were planted in the valley by George Calvert Yount.

If you are planning a wine and dine tour to Napa Valley for your next vacation, then you need to know how to get the best out of it. The region boasts of over 400 wineries. While it’s not possible to take a tour of all of them within a short span time, you can experience the true flavor of California wine country by selecting some of the best it has to offer.

Types of Wine Tastings in Napa Valley

There are several types of wine tours in Napa Valley for you to choose, from depending on your individual preferences. Wine tasting tours can be arranged on your behalf by tour guides, or you can choose to plan a tour yourself. However, you need to first chalk out a budget for the tour, and then determine which type would fit into it.

The wine tours may vary in terms of the activities involved, and also your budget. Here is a list of some of the most common types of wine tours you will find in Napa Valley:

#1. Wine Bar Tasting

This type of tour is common with first time visitors, and offers different wine tasting experiences. You can either go for a reserve wine tasting, which will have a higher fee, or an all white wine tasting. A few of the wineries require a prior appointment for tasting wines at their bars. However, it is not mandatory at all wineries.

Helpful Tips:When you are at a wine bar, sit back, relax, and enjoy the tastings. Try to refrain from flexing too much wine knowledge as it might spoil the fun.

#2. Sit Down Wine Tasting

If you prefer a more personal interaction with your host, then a sit down wine tasting experience is what you need. This type of wine tasting is ideal if you have your own group. You will get to taste some of the wines that are not available at the bars, and avoid the long tours through the wineries.

Helpful Tips: Choose a sit-down tasting if you are willing to pay a slightly higher fee and may require you to make a reservation.

#3. Table Service Wine Tasting

If you would like a combination of the first two types of tastings, this is a great option. Table service wine tastings are common at wineries that specialize in sparkling wine. You can sit back and relax and be attended to by a dedicated host who will gladly explain the next drink to you. The amount of time allotted to you may vary, but you must allow at least an hour for the experience.

Helpful Tips: Bring your family or friends along for a better, more enjoyable experience.

#4. Winery Tours

If you are looking for a more interactive experience, and interested in exploring a winery’s facilities and vineyards, then you may want to book yourself a winery tour. You can learn more about wine, and the process of winemaking while you try out different types of wine.

Helpful Tips: This type of tasting is ideal for more adventurous folks and may require a reservation.

#5. Barrel Tasting

This type of wine tasting gives you the chance to sample wines directly from the barrel, while they’re still developing. Wine is seeped directly out of the barrel with a glass tube siphon for tasting. Some wineries offer guests the opportunity to purchase “futures” of their barrel samples.

Helpful tips: Barrel tasting tours are one of the most popular types of wine tasting experiences available in Napa Valley. Sometimes there is a shortage of wine glasses due to overcrowdedness, so you may want to bring your own glass just in case.

#6. Pairing Wine with Food

For those who feel tasting wine isn’t complete without food, why not try some scrumptious local dishes along with the wines? You can either go for a group food and wine tasting option or choose a private tour. Such tours may include a full chef-prepared five course meal or a simple cheese and wine tasting regime.

Helpful Tips: If you are willing to get into more activities over the tour, you might not want to miss the opportunity of being a helping hand to the chef in the preparations if permitted.

#7. Blend Your Own Wine:

You will get the opportunity to blend your own wine in a number of wineries in Napa Valley. These wineries not only offer tours through their vineyards and facilities but also provide insights on wine blending. The wine blending activities can be fun and serious both at the same time.

Helpful Tips: You can blend your own wine and even take it home for later.

The Best Wineries in Napa Valley

It comes handy if you already know which wineries in Napa Valley top the chart. While there are a plenty of options to choose from, following are a selected few which have scored better than the rest in terms of quality and services but is just a very small sample of wineries but a good start for the wine novice.

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