Autumn: The Best Time to Visit Napa Valley

With its stunning scenery, wealth of activities and world-famous wines, Napa Valley entices and enchants visitors all year round. In fact, there really isn’t a bad time to visit – but autumn makes a strong case for being the best. 

Napa Valley Wine

Ask anyone in Napa Valley why the year 1976 was significant, and you’re sure to get the same answer: the Judgement of Paris. Officially known as the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, the event was a landmark for Californian wines, which were rated best in each category by French judges in a blind tasting. This caused uproar in the wine world, providing a huge boom for Napa Valley’s wine industry and dispelling the widely-held idea that its produce was inferior to French wines. Nowadays, wine is one of the valley’s major industries, and certainly the main reason why it is known all around the world. 

The vineyards of Napa Valley are as stunning in Autumn yellows and browns as they are in Summer greens

For winemakers, autumn means harvest season, and the busiest time of the year. Visitors to Napa Valley in September and October will gain an appreciation of just how much work goes into making those bottles of wine that end up on supermarket shelves across the world! Every part of the process is timed perfectly to ensure that the grapes are picked exactly at their prime, and making sure everything goes to plan is a huge team effort. In celebration, there is also a whole range of seasonal harvest-themed events that are fun for all the family – although for grown-ups, the highlight surely has to be the wine-tasting! 

The wine tastes sublime all year round, but in late autumn, you’ll also be in for a visual treat: the colours of the trees and vineyards are truly breath-taking as the leaves change from their summer green to a vibrant mix of red and gold. Scenery is another of the valley’s major attractions, and when you catch a glimpse of the morning mist rising off the autumn hillsides, you’ll soon see why. Make the most of it by taking part in some of Napa Valley’s popular outdoor pursuits, from wine-themed countryside trails to horse-riding and cycling tours. You can even lift off from the valley floor in a hot air balloon to get a bird’s-eye view of the landscape below. 

Mist surrounds the hills on an Autumn morning in Napa Valley

Napa Valley Film Festival

Also not to be missed in autumn is the Napa Valley Film Festival, an annual event that takes place in November. Founders Brenda and Marc Lhormer came up with the unique idea, involving a world-class film festival that celebrates Napa Valley’s excellent food and wine almost as much as it celebrates cinema. First conceived in 2009, it’s rapidly gaining popularity and regularly attracts celebrity guests as well as local film enthusiasts. 

The yellow leaves make for stunning scenery for walks and cycles at this time of year

So, what are you waiting for? Just 70 miles from San Francisco, Napa Valley is ready to welcome you!Let  Gray Line San Francisco take you on one of our wine tasting tours in Napa Valley! You’ll taste wine from North America’s premium wine country, learn how the wines are made and enjoy lovely vistas.