The world’s wine regions are neglected in the winter, not by the grape growers—winter is one of their busiest seasons—but by visitors. Wine lovers often prefer the budding of spring, the warm breezes of summer, and the exciting bustle of harvest. But we believe that winter is one of the best times of the year to visit wine country. Here’s why:
Less traffic: If you’ve ever crawled along Napa Valley’s Highway 29 in the middle of summer, this is the only reason you need to visit wine country in the dead of winter. The roads are less congested in wine regions all over the country, so you can spend more time in tasting rooms and less time in the car.
Get the reservations you want: During peak season, many restaurant and winery appointments have to be booked days, weeks, and sometimes months, in advance. You have a better chance of getting into that special restaurant or winery in the winter, and if you’re a fan of spontaneity, this is definitely your season.
A more personal experience: The vineyard crew is busy pruning back vines in January and February, but these are the least busy months of the year for winemakers, so they may have time to pour you some wine themselves and chat for a while. You also might have the tasting room to yourself, which is always preferable to jostling for a position at the bar like in a Miami Beach night club.
See the vineyards as you’ve never seen them before: Many people are familiar with spring, summer and fall in a vineyard, but have never seen the vines at their most naked and exposed. It’s an entirely different look and feel, and despite the dormant vines, the vineyards are actually humming with activity as vineyard workers prepare the vines for next year’s crop.
So plan a trip to wine country for your next long weekend or special event (Valentine’s Day is a Friday this year), and enjoy the benefits of wine country in winter.