Contact Wally

Use the form on the right to contact me.

I am happy to help you plan your trip to Napa.  If you need a free winery trip planning agenda please give me as much time as you can due to the large number of requests.  I can typically turn around a custom agenda in 3 days.

Happy also to help you with restaurant and hotel recommendations, all honest and unbiased and based on my own experiences.

Cheers,

Local Wally

         

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Local Wally's Blog to Napa | NapaTouristGuide.com

Read Local Wally's Blog to Napa for up to date news, features, and stories from Napa Valley. Guest Posts Welcome!

Filtering by Category: Napa Valley Advice

Plan Your Own Netflix Wine Country Getaway in Napa... on a budget!

Local Wally

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If you haven’t seen the Netflix film Wine Country with Amy Poehler you need to stop what you are doing, open up a big bottle of wine and watch it… Now! OK, spoiler alert, it’s a bit of a chick flick but there are plenty of hilarious moments. “What do you taste? There are no wrong answers…” Tip: Never answer that question.

So now you want to plan out your own weekend getaway to Napa. You want to get silly drunk, roll down hills, maybe even renew some old friendships? Well here’s the reality check - Napa is expensive. Super expensive. Like $50 per person to taste at some wineries expensive! But I can help. Yes, I can definitely help.

GROUP SIZE MATTERS IN WINE TASTING

A group of 4 or less, Napa is all yours. Once you hit 6 you need to think about reservations. And once you go over 8 you should know that some wineries just don’t want you, especially if you’re laughing and giggling and just having a great old time. The trick is to call ahead and make reservations. They might charge you more but at least you know when you arrive that they are expecting you, have a server ready for you, and have space set aside for you. Yes, some wineries are totally cool with large groups coming in unannounced - Castillo di Amorosa, Chandon, Sterling, and a few others. But even if you do get in it means long lines waiting for wine, a major buzzkill. No one wants to wait for wine so make reservations if you have a group over 5 people.

If you are coming with over 8 people just email me and let me help you. I don’t charge for this - I try to help the wineries and in turn they help me and my readers. In the end you get a deal cheaper than you could get yourself. If you are trying to ballpark wine tasting fees for any group over 8 use $40 per person, per winery, as a starting point. It can be less but for planning it’s best to be realistic.

HOTELS ARE EXPENSIVE AND BOOK UP FAST

In the movie they had this great house all to itself. Well, that’s a tall order in Napa. If you want that experience you should expand your search to Sonoma. But if you want Napa then start with hotels. You want a hotel that is close to restaurants. That’s because at the end of the day you don’t want to be driving to eat dinner. This means find a place in either downtown Napa or Yountville. Use this link to start browsing the deals - https://arestravel.com/hotel/list/3035/m211 - If you wanted that private estate in the vineyards email me - I know some wineries who have villas where you can stay. These are not published so just ask.

GET A PRIVATE CHEF EXPERIENCE WITHOUT A PRIVATE CHEF

One of the very cool things in the Netflix movie Wine Country was that they had a private chef. But if you aren’t staying in a farmhouse or just can’t afford your own chef then check out Long Meadow Ranch’s Chef’s Table. I’ve done this - it’s incredible. There’s a private communal table in the winery that seats around 10 people. Next to the table is a kitchen with your own chef who carefully and skillfully prepares a 2 hour dining experience for you, course by course, with wine pairings. It’s totally indulgent and so much fun, especially for a Wine Country getaway. I also have an offer for my readers that adds on a private cave tour if you book the dinner so make sure you email me to get that.

On an even tighter budget? Go to The Bounty Hunter for dinner where there’s great BBQ and a killer Happy Hour and tons - I mean TONS - of wines by the glass. Top notch food and authentic Napa experience.

SPA EXPERIENCE IN NAPA… ON A BUDGET

A Wine Country weekend should mean some relaxing experiences as well and Napa has no shortage of top notch, high end spas. But for those looking for a budget spa experience do something that is uniquely Napa and go soak in a mud bath. Calistoga is home to plenty of options to soak in natural spring waters filled with soothing clay and peat. Couples welcome, even threesomes (um, OK), and it’s a spa experience that you will remember for a long time.

GRAPE STOMPS, CAVE TOURS, HOT AIR BALLOONS, NAPA WINE TRAIN, NAPA HAS IT ALL

If you’re coming in Fall make sure you book a Grape Stomp. Grgich Hills has a good one where you stomp away and take home a wine stained t-shirt. Cave Tours are great during off season when it’s raining outside or on a super hot summer day when you want to get out of the heat. Hot Air Balloons start early so decide if you really want to get up early and do not plan on this after a night of fun wine drinking. And who can resist the Napa Wine Train? With lunch and dinner excursions, an excursion that drops you off at wineries, even a Wine Train and Castle trip, there’s something for everyone and a totally unique experience. And guess what, I have discount tickets so make sure you ask before booking.

OVERWHELMED? JUST EMAIL ME!

A big part of what I do here is help visitors find the Best of Napa on a Budget. All honest advice, no tricks or gimmicks, I’ll help you plan it all out and it’s all free of charge. All I ask is that you tell all of your friends about me and you follow me on instagram! Here’s to a great weekend Wine Country getaway!

Day Tripping from San Francisco to Napa Valley Made Easy!

Local Wally

Planning a Corporate Event Team Builder?  Vacationing in SF and Want to Go Wine Tasting?  Live in the Bay Area but Don't Know What to Do?  Everything You Need to Know to Visit Napa Valley for a Day!

Charles Krug Winery

DID YOU SOMEHOW GET ROPED INTO PLANNING A CORPORATE EVENT IN NAPA FROM SAN FRANCISCO?  EASY, PEASY!

If your group is 8 or less you have a lot of options.  Most wineries are cool with smaller groups and won't require reservations though it's always a good idea to make them as there's nothing worse than showing up to a winery only to find huge crowds and no place to go. 

If you are coming with 10 or more you need to plan this out.  There are some big name wineries like Chandon, V Sattui, Castello di Amorosa, who appear to be open to groups without reservations but do a bit of research and you'll find that some, like V Sattui, have restrictions on party size and times they allow groups.  Others, like Castello di Amorosa, actually close the doors to groups once they hit their admission limit for the day, sometimes as early as 2:00.  And even if you find wineries who tell you to just pop in, this means long lines and no personal servce. 

So what to do?  Just email me.  If you have a corporate group of 10 or more I can hook you up with some wineries who will take very good care of your group - at rates lower than if you called yourself and tried to book it through their group sales department.  Need transportation?  I can get you discounts on party buses and shuttles, too. 

PLAN AHEAD!  Remember, Napa books up fast and shuttle buses are scarce so the more time the better. Planning out 4 months in advance is a good idea but if you have to punt and get it done just contact me and I'll get you all the info to pull it off.


ON VACATION IN SAN FRANCISCO AND WANT TO DO A DAY TRIP TO NAPA? 

This is super easy.  First, figure out your transportation.  You can drive over, you can Uber, you can take the Ferry to Vallejo, whatever you decide just get here.  Plan to be in Napa around 10:00 to start tasting.  Figure you can hit four to five wineries, do dinner, then hightail it back to San Francisco.  Give yourself a full day and if you are short on time do Sonoma instead - it's a bit closer.

Where to taste, where to eat, what to do?  Just email me.  I'll help you get a Wine Pass to save you money and then show you the wineries I recommend for a fast trip to Napa.


Elizabeth Spencer's Tasting Room - Great Patio out Back, a hidden gem!

BAY AREA LOCAL AND WANT TO VISIT NAPA - ON A BUDGET?

Bay Area locals are so lucky to live so close.  Don't be embarrassed if you live so close but not sure what to do.  I help people find the best wineries and deals all the time, from newbies to somm's.  Step 1 is always the same - Get a Wine Pass!  Tasting in Napa is now $25 per person at most places, more at some.  The two for one pass pays for itself fast and since you live nearby you can use it again and again since it's good for 12 months.  Get the pass - one per couple - and then email me and I'll help you pick your wineries for free.  Soon you too will be a Napa expert!


Platypus Tours for Napa and Sonoma

OVERWHELMED?  JUST BOOK A PLATYPUS TOUR OF NAPA OR SONOMA FROM SAN FRANCISCO!

If you want to make it real easy whether you are a corporate event or vacationer, just book the Platypus Tour and let them do all the hard work.  They have a tour where you take the Ferry to Vallejo and they pick you up.  You spend a day on their small shuttles, they serve lunch, you taste wine, they get you back in time, no brainer!  To get more info just email my contact there, Jenny Toomer, and tell her Local Wally sent you and she will take good care of you!

2019 - EVERY NAPA VALLEY, SONOMA, RUSSIAN RIVER WINE TASTING DEAL RIGHT HERE!

Local Wally

LOOKING FOR THE UPDATED LIST OF NAPA, SONOMA, AND RUSSIAN RIVER WINE TASTING COUPON OR DEALS?  HERE IT IS, UPDATED JAN 2019.

Buy One Wine Pass for tons of 2 for 1 Deals in Napa and Sonoma

Buy One Wine Pass for tons of 2 for 1 Deals in Napa and Sonoma

To get these Napa and Sonoma wine tasting deals just purchase the Priority Wine Pass for $39.99.  You only need ONE pass per couple and the savings add up fast!


Blue Note Music Venue & Restaurant (Downtown Napa): Complimentary glass of wine and complimentary dessert *show tickets are required, see Blue Note Napa website for artists, pricing and availability. ($25 value)

Tarla (Downtown Napa next to the Andaz Hotel): Complimentary Appetizer with Priority Wine Pass ($12 Value)

Gustavo Wines (Downtown Napa next to the Oxbow Market):- 2 for 1 tasting flight and 20% off shipping ($18+ SAVINGS) Known for: Red Blends, Cab, Chardonnay, Merlot

Krupp Brothers Tasting Room (Downtown Napa):-Complimentary upgrade from our Signature flight to our Reserve Flight for two ($40 Savings) Known for: Red blends, Cab

Feast It Forward (Downtown Napa next to the Oxbow Market):- 2 for 1 Tasting ($35 Value) Known for: A bit of everything (outside food welcome to bring in to enjoy with your tasting or a bottle purchase)

Learn How To Taste Wine with Victor Orozco (Downtown Napa next to the Oxbow Market): Victor is a level 3 Somm who hosts private morning lessons where you can learn about the ways of tasting and then can go out and use those skills at the wineries during the day. Normally $90pp wine pass members and guests receive the class for $65pp w/reservation: 707-812-9292

Twenty Rows: (Downtown napa) 2 for 1 tasting AND 20% off wine purchaswith reservation ($25 SAVINGS) Cab, Red Blends, Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Zin

Outland Wines (Downtown Napa):-2 complimentary tastings with 4 bottle purchase ($50 SAVINGS) Known for: An array of wines ranging from Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, to Trousseau and Riesling

JaM Cellars (Downtown Napa):- 2 for 1 tasting flight ($20+ SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Sparkling, Red blends…open LATE!

Winetasting on First: (Downtown Napa):- Happy Hour Glasses of Wine All the time & Two Complimentary tasting tastings with the purchase of One Bottle ($15+SAVINGS) Known for: Red Blends, White Blends,Chardonnay, Cab, Pinot, Petite Sirah

Cornerstone Cellars (Village at Vista Collina Resort in Napa):-  One Complimentary Tasting per wine pass($30 SAVINGS) Known for:Sauv Blanc, Riesling, Cab, Pinot, Zin, Syrah

Cornerstone Cellars (Downtown Napa):- One Complimentary Tasting per wine pass($30 SAVINGS) Known for:Sauv Blanc, Riesling, Cab, Pinot, Zin, Syrah

Wine Train Gourmet Lunch or Dinner: (Downtown Napa) $25 off tickets pass members and up to 3 guests ($80 Savings) Reservations required please call (707) 253-2111 and mention you are a wine pass member during booking. At check-in please bring ID and wine pass to obtain special pricing. 

Castello Di Amorosa Wine Train Tour: (Downtown Napa) $25 off tickets for pass members and up to 3 guests ($80 Savings) Reservations required please call (707) 253-2111 and mention you are a wine pass member during booking. At check-in please bring ID and wine pass to obtain special pricing. 

Collective/Estate/Legacy/Famiglia Wine Train Tours: (Downtown Napa) Receive $35 off tickets for pass members and up to 3 guests based on availability ($140 Savings) Reservations required please call (707) 253-2111 and mention you are a wine pass member during booking. At check-in please bring ID and wine pass to obtain special pricing. 


Caves at Long Meadow Ranch

Caves at Long Meadow Ranch

Main Napa Area Tasting Deals

Bouchaine (Napa) One Complimentary 1030am Vineyard Tour and Tasting with prior reservation per wine pass (Save $50) Known for: Pinot, Chardonnay, Riesling, Rose

Ceja Vineyards (near Carneros Brewery in Sonoma) 15% off in-person wine purchases ($20SAVINGS) Known for our Pinot, Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Rose, Red Blend, Merlot, Syrah, Cab, and Late Harvest/Dessert Wine.

Bourassa (Napa):-2 for 1 Tastings and Complimentary Wine Educational Experience, and 10% off wine purchases ($40+SAVINGS) Known for: Riesling, Syrah, Cab, Zin, Port, Red Blends

Leaf & Vine Winery (Napa): 50% off tasting and meet the winemaker ($15+SAVINGS) Known for: Zinfandel, Sauv Blanc, CAB, Petite Sirah

Avinodos (Napa):-2 for 1 Tasting and Barrel Tasting and a meet and greet with the winemaker  BY APPOINTMENT ONLY($20 SAVINGS) Known for: Sauv Blanc and Malbec

LE (Carneros): 10% off wine purchases  Known for: Rose, White blends, Pinot, etc

Ancien (Coombsville): Recieve a tour and tasting for $25pp (for up to 4) with reservations Known for: Pinot and Chardonnay

Judds Hill (Silverado Trail Napa):-  2 for 1 Tasting BY APPOINTMENT ONLY($25 SAVINGS) or Cardholders will enjoy a special rate of $100 per couple (normally $135) for the Judd’s Hill Wine and Food in Balance Seminar. (RESERVATION required) Known for: Pinot, Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabs, Meritage, Blends

Black Stallion (Silverado Trail Napa):- 2 for 1 tastings ($25 SAVINGS) Known for: Cab, Merlot, Syrah, Zin, Pinot, Chardonnay, Viognier, Red blends, Dessert wine

Hagafan (Silverado Trail Napa):- 2 for 1 tastingsBY APPOINTMENT ONLY(except Holidays & Saturdays)($25 SAVINGS) Known for: Riesling, Late Harvest, CAB, Merlot, Tempranillo, Red blends, Sparkling, Sweet wines, pinot

Andretti (Napa): 2 for 1 Tasting and 10% off wine purchases. ($35+SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Late Harvest, Sangiovese, Pinot

Relic Wine Cellars (Off of Silverado Trail Napa): Complimentary Private Tasting for Two with a $300 purchase or $40 tasting fee per person (this winery is allocation only, so members receive access to this winery to purchase their wine when otherwise you would not be able to do so. Known for: Pinot, Petite Sirah, Cab Franc

Patland Cave Experience (Off of Silverado Trail Napa): Receive $50 off a Tour and Tasting for 2 (normally $75pp)…reservations is required email:mpatland@patlandvineyards.com (Save $50) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Rose, Syrah, Zin, Malbec, Cab, Prop Red Blend, and Port

Pine Ridge (Silverado Trail Napa): Reservation Required 50% off tasting for up to 2 people M-Thursday and 10% off wine purchases Fri-Sun (except Saturdays)BY APPOINTMENT ONLY(  ($45 SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Late Harvest, Sangiovese, Pinot

Silverado Vineyards (Silverado Trail Napa): 2 for 1 Premier Tasting ($45 SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Sauv Blanc, Cab, Sangiovese, Merlot

Miner (Silverado Trail Napa): 2-for-1 tasting for the walk-in Bar Tastings OR 2 for 1 Group Cave Tasting & Tour Experience with Reservation Monday-Friday email customerservice@minerwines.com Or SATURDAY & SUNDAY: COMPLIMENTARY TASTING with 2 bottle purchase($50 SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Merlot,  Sangiovese, Pinot, Cab, Viogner, Rose, and many others


Yountville and Oakville Tasting Deals

Hill Winery (Yountville): 50% off tasting for up to Two People ($25 SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauv Blanc, White Blends, Rose, Cabs, Red blends

V Cellarplace (Yountville): 2 for 1 tasting experience and 15% off wine purchases ($25+ SAVINGS) Known for: A bit of everything!

Travel Food & Wines (Yountville): Complimentary tasting experience per wine pass and with reservation ($25 SAVINGS) Known for: The unique and hard to find wines of Napa Valley (By Appt Only: email: laura@travelfood.com)

Jessup Cellars (Yountville): One Complimentary Tasting per pass  ($40 SAVINGS) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Cab, Pinot, Zin, Petite Sirah, Merlot, Cab Franc, Port

Girard (Yountville):  Save $125 on our Cabernet Experience. Reservations Required. Experience five of our most exclusive appellation Cabernet Sauvignon selections presented side by side and paired with small bites of chocolate,cheese, and charcuterie. Includes three bottles of our Cabernet Sauvignon in a wooden gift box.Please let us know at the time of booking that you are a Priority Wine Pass member. Your experience can be reserved by calling us at 707.921.2795 or emailing us at hospitality@girardwinery.com

Cosentino (Yountville): 2 for 1 Tasting (Maximum of 8 guests) ($40 Savings): Known for: Zin, Cab, blends

Napa Wine Cellars (Oakville):-2 for 1 Reserve Tasting for up to 4 guests ($60 Savings): Known for: Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Cab, Zin, Merlot, Pinot, & Syrah


Rutherford and St Helena Tasting Deals

Elizabeth Spencer (Rutherford): Complimentary Upgraded tasting for 2 with purchase of charter tasting (reservations are recommended) ($25 SAVINGS ) Known for: Chardonnay,Riesling, Rose, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Merlot, Cab,Grenache

Rutherford Hill Winery (Rutherford): Complimentary upgrade to a Signature Tasting for 2. Plus, enjoy 10% savings on wine purchases.($30+ SAVINGS ) Known for: Red blends, Cabs, Merlot

Rutherford Ranch Winery (Silverado Trail St. Helena): One Complimentary Tasting per wine pass (BY APPT ONLY) : Enjoy a selection of four to five wines from our portfolio, both red and white wines, rotated seasonally ($40 SAVINGS) Known for: Cab (several only available at the winery), Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Zin and Rhiannon, a proprietary red blend.

Conn Creek Winery (Silverado Trail St. Helena): Complimentary Anthology Saloon Tasting with reservation OR 2 for 1 Walk-in Bar tasting  OR $25 off of one Barrel Blending Experience®, up to 4 guests w/reservations  ($100 Savings)

Grgich (St. Helena): One Complimentary Tasting per wine pass ($25SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Cab, Zin, and red blends

White Hall Lane (St. Helena): 50% off tasting for 2 people walk-in OR 2 for 1 Reserve Tasting in their Members Lounge with reservation ($50 SAVINGS)  Known for: Rose, Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Cab, Merlot, Pinot, Red blends, Dessert Wine

Delectus (St. Helena): 2 for 1 VIP Tasting Experience with reservation ($55 SAVINGS) Known for: Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Sauv Blanc

Prager Port (St. Helena): 10% discount on a purchase of 6 bottles. 20% discount on a purchase of one case. ($20+SAVINGS) Known for: PORT

V.Sattui (St. Helena): Two for One Tastings ($20 SAVINGS): Known for: CABS but they have over 60 varietals and several sweet wines!

Long Meadow Ranch (St.Helena): Receive 2 Complimentary Mayacamas Estate Tours with the purchase of a Chefs Table Dinner ($150 Savings) Email: scarter@longmeadowranch.com to make reservations and to learn more

Davies Vineyard (St.Helena): Purchase a Sparkling or Pinot Flight and receive a complimentary upgrade to a combination flight by appointment ONLY ($50 savings) OR Bubbles and Caviar brunch…$50off per person (normally $130pp)  Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 10 am. OR the basics of wine pairings with cheese $35off per person (normally $95pp) Monday through Saturday at 11  and reservations are required

Known for their Schramsberg Sparking wine and Davies Pinots and Cabs

Beringer Winery (St. Helena): 50% off of the Beringer Old Winery Tasting for up to TWO people ($25 SAVINGS) Known for: Reds, Whites, and Blends

Schweiger Vineyards (St. Helena/Spring Mountain): Complimentary Tasting for Two and Free Shipping with a Case Purchase ($150 Savings) Known for: Chardonnay, Cabs, Port

Trinchero Winery (St. Helena): 2 for 1 Tasting, ($25 SAVINGS) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Merlot, Cab, Petite Verdot, Cab Franc, Meritage

Boeschen Vineyards (St. Helena):Complimentary Tastings and tour of the underground winery, Victorian gardens, and classic car collection for TWO people with 2 Red bottle purchases by appt only. Please phone the winery (707 963-3674) or send an email info@boeschenvineyards.com ($150 SAVINGS) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Rose, Petite Verdot, Estate Blends, Cab

Benessere (St. Helena): Complimentary Tour and Extra Pour of their Reserve Wine with reservation: email ryan@benesserevineyards.com  , ($25 SAVINGS) Known for: Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, and other Italian style wines

Maxville Estate Winery (St.Helena near Pope Valley): 2 for 1 Historic Winery Cave Tour and Tasting or 2 for 1 Cave Tour and Cheese and Wine Pairing w/reservations  ($85 SAVINGS) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Cab Franc, Cab Sauv, & Petit Sirah

Auburn James (Silverado Trail in St. Helena): 50% off Tasting/Tour for up to 2 people with Reservation, ($40 SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Cab, Pinot, Red Blends

Ladera Vineyards (St. Helena):Receive the private tasting experience ($60 a person) at the price of our outdoor experience ($35 a person). Member and up to 3 guests may take advantage of this offer.Reservation is required ($100 SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Cab, Red Blends, Pinot, Malbec, Sauv Blanc, Rose

AXR Napa Valley at V Madrone Vineyard (St.Helena/Calistoga): 2 Complimentary Tastings with 2 bottle purchase Reservation Required ($100 SAVINGS) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Red blends, Cab

Charles Krug (St. Helena): Complimentary Tasting OR An estate tour and tasting for the price of a reserve tasting with reservation ($65 Savings) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Malbec, Red blends, Cab, Chard


Calistoga/Deer Park/Angwin Tasting Deals

Burgess Cellars (Howell Mountain): One Complimentary Tasting in the cellar experience per wine pass and reservations are required ($30 Savings) Known for: Estate Cabs, Red blends, Merlot, Grenache, Chardonnay, Syrah, Petit Sirah

Teachworth Estate Winery (Calistoga): 2 for 1 Tasting with the owner or winemaker and access to purchase some private reserve cabs from 2011-14. Reservations are required ($50 SAVINGS) Known for: Cab

Pope Valley (Pope Valley): One Complimentary Tasting per wine pass ($30 SAVINGS) Known for: Sparkling, Chenin Blanc, Rose, Sangiovese, Merlot, Malbec, Cab, Port

Madrigal Family Winery (Calistoga): Complimentary Private Tasting for 2 with two bottle purchase….By Appointment Only & Vineyard Lunch with tasting for $85 (normally $100pp)($70 SAVINGS) Known for: Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Gewurztraminer, Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc and small lots of single vineyard and estate wines.

Amici Cellars (Calistoga): 15% off on a CASE purchase ($40+ SAVINGS) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Red blends, Cab

Envy Wines(Calistoga): 2 for 1 Tasting before Noon ($20 SAVINGS) Known for: Syrah, Cab, Petite Sirah, Red blends, Rose, Sauv blanc, and Late harvest!

Summers Estate(Calistoga): 2 for 1 Tasting with PRIOR APPOINTMENT ($25 SAVINGS) Known for: CAB, Chardonnay, Charbono, Merlot, Malbec, Red blends, Muscat

Dutch Henry (Silverado Trail Calistoga):  2 FOR 1 WALK-IN Current Release Tasting OR 2 for 1 Collectors Tasting with barrel Sample ($35 SAVINGS) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Rose, Pinot, Red blends, Cab, Cab Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Zin, Petite Sirah

Picayune Cellars (Calistoga): 2 for 1 Tasting or Complimentary upgrade to the Music and Wine Pairing with the purchase of a standard tasting ($25 SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Sauv Blanc, Pinot, and Red Blends

Clos Pegase (Calistoga): 2 for 1 tasting and 20% off wine purchased that day ($25+SAVINGS) Known for: Pinot, Cab, Merlot, Syrah, Red blends, Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Port, Rose

Sterling (Calistoga): 2 for 1 tasting please see special code in welcome email to make online reservations or call and mention you’re a priority wine pass member  ($35 SAVINGS) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Cab, Red blends

Brian Arden (Silverado Trail Calistoga): 50% off of the wine flight tastings for up to 2 people 10% off select wines Sorry, no shared tastings.  One pass per two people($30 SAVINGS) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Rose, Chardonnay, Cab, Red blends

Bennette Lane Winery (Calistoga): Complimentary Upgrade to a Private Seated Tasting for Priority Wine Pass Holders (valued at $70 per couple) for our Signature Tasting Price of $40! Limited to groups size of 6 or less and by appointment only.


Sonoma Valley and Russian River Tasting Deals

Landmark Vineyards in Sonoma

Landmark Vineyards in Sonoma

Winery Offers:

McEvoy Ranch (Petaluma): 2 for 1 bar tasting with reservation ($20 SAVINGS) Known for: Pinot Noir, Syrah, Montepulciano, Grenache, Viognier, and Olive Oil.

Adobe Winery (in Petaluma) 2 for 1 Tasting ($15+ SAVINGS) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Semillon, Viognier, Rose, Pinot, Grenache, Zin, Syrah, CAB

GREEDY Wines (Sebastopol): Complimentary tasting and meet the winemaker ($20+SAVINGS) Known for: CAB & Sauv Blanc BY APPT ONLY

Ekitmo Wines (Sebastopol): 2 for 1 tasting ($10+SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Pinot, Zinfandel,Petite Sirah, Sauv Blanc

LE Estate (Carneros): 10% off wine purchases. Reservations are recommended

Jean Edwards Cellars (Sonoma Plaza): 2 for 1 tasting (Save $20

Larson Family (Sonoma): 10% off wine purchases  Known for: Three Lab Cab, Chardonnay, and Pinot

Ceja Vineyards (near Carneros Brewery in Sonoma) 15% off in-person wine purchases Known for: Pinot, Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Rose, Red Blend, Merlot, Syrah, Cab, and Late Harvest/Dessert Wine.

Schug Vineyard (Sonoma): 2 for 1 tasting for TWO ($20+SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Pinot, Late Harvest, Sauv Blanc, Merlot, Cab, Malbec

Viansa (Sonoma): 2 for 1 tasting M-F and 20% off their picnic lunches with reservations any day of the week email: JSandine@vintagewineestates.com ($30+SAVINGS) Known for: A bit of everything

Cline Cellars (Sonoma): 2 for 1 Reserve Tasting and 10% off wine purchases ($15+SAVINGS) Known for: Zin, Mouverde, Chardonnay…and they really have it all.

Jacuzzi Cellars (Sonoma): 2 for 1 Reserve Tasting and 10% off wine purchases ($20+SAVINGS) Known for: Italian style varietals

Canihan Winery (Sonoma): 2 for 1 tasting and meet the winemaker by appointment only ($20+SAVINGS): Pinot, Syrah BY APPT ONLY

Mayo Family Winery (Glen Ellen): 2 for 1 Tastings and 10% off wine purchases ($15+SAVINGS) Known for: Zin, CAB

Kivelstadt Cellars (Glen Ellen): One Complimentary Tasting per pass and 10% off wine purchases ($15+SAVINGS): Red Blends, Pinot, Syrah, Viognier, Sauv Blanc, Rose

Spann Vineyards (Glen Ellen): 2 for 1 Tasting or Complimentary Tasting for Two with a bottle purchase. Special discount on Pizza lunch and wine pairing (reservation required)  ($20SAVINGS) Known for: Zin, CAB, Chardonnay, Blends

Deerfield Ranch Winery Caves (Kenwood): One complimentary tasting per pass ($15SAVINGS) Known for: DRX, Meritage Red Blends, Cabs, Malbec, Merlot, Pinot, Sangiovese, Syrah, Zin, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauv Blanc, Rose, White blends

Muscardini Cellars (Kenwood): 2 for 1 Tastings and 10% off wine purchases ($15+SAVINGS) Known for: Single-Vineyard Designate Zinfandels, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Bordeaux-style blend and Late Harvest Zinfandel.

Manzanita Creek: (Kenwood) Complimentary Tasting for Two and 15% off purchases ($30+SAVINGS) Known for: Syrah, Zin, Chardonnay, Petite Sirah, Pinot, Red blends

Ty Caton Vineyard (Kenwood): 2 for 1 Tastings ($15+SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Merlot, Red blends, Syrah, Malbec, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Cab, Dessert Wines

B Wise (Kenwood): 2 for 1 Tastings ($20SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Red Blends, Cabs, Syrah, Rose, Pinot

VJB Vineyards(Kenwood): 2 for 1 Tastings ($15SAVINGS) Known for: Italian Style Wines and they also have a wonderful Deli.

Chateau St. Jean (kenwood): 2 for 1 Tasting ($20 SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, CAB, Merlot, Pinot (they also have a wonderful reserve menu)

Landmark (Kenwood):Tower tasting by appointment. Offer Priority Wine Pass members our wine society price of $30, rather than $40 regular price OR Upgraded seated courtyard tasting by appointment to include a complimentary cheese plate for two. 24 hour notice required. ($15+SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay AND Pinot

St. Francis Winery (Santa Rosa): 2 for 1 Tastings and 10% off wine purchases ($15+SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay, Zin, Cab, and other reds


Healdsburg, Lake County & Other Sonoma County Wineries - Russian River Area

Trecini (dwntn Santa Rosa): 2 for 1 tasting and 15% off wine purchases ($15+value) Known for: Merlot, Pinot, Zin, Sauv Blanc, Sparkling

St. Francis Winery (Santa Rosa): 2 for 1 Tasting and 10% off wine purchases ($10+value) Known for: Cab, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauv Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Zin

Lost Canyon Winery (Santa Rosa): Complimentary Tasting for Two ($20 value) Known for: Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot

GREEDY Wines (Sebastopol): Complimentary tasting and meet the winemaker ($20+value) Known for: CAB & Sauv Blanc BY APPT ONLY

Ekitmo Wines (Sebastopol): 2 for 1 tasting ($10+value) Known for: Chardonnay, Pinot, Zinfandel,Petite Sirah, Sauv Blanc

Balletto Vineyards (Santa Rosa): ,4 Complimentary Tastings ($40 SAVINGS) Known for: Reds, whites, and red blends

Wine Guerilla (Forestville): Complimentary Tasting for 2 and 10% off wine purchases Known for: Zin

Landmark (Forestville): Upgraded seated courtyard tasting by appointment to include a complimentary cheese plate for two. 24 hour notice required. ($15+SAVINGS) Known for: Chardonnay AND Pinot

K Squared Cellars (Windsor): 2 for 1 tasting ($15 value) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Pinot, Merlot, Zin, Rose

Trione Vineyards & Winery (Geyserville): 2 for 1 tasting and 10% off case purchases ($30+ Savings) Known for: Chardonnay, Pinot, Syrah, Zin, Sauv Blanc, Primitivo

Cast Wines (Geyserville): 2 for 1 tasting  ($25 Savings) Known for: Chardonnay, Pinot, Zin, Sauv Blanc, Sparkling Wine, Cab

Meeker Vineyard (Geyserville):2 Complimentary Tastings ($30+ Savings) Known for: Dry, age-worthy, bold reds, and unusual white, rosé, and dessert wines

VML (Healdsburg): 2 for 1 tasting ($15+value) Known for: Chardonnay, Pinot, Sauv Blanc, Sparkling, Zin, Red blend, Syrah, Dessert wines/sweet wines

ACORN Winery/Alegría Vineyards (Healdsburg): 2 for 1 PRIVATE sit down tasting with owner or winemaker with reservation and 10% off bottle purchases ($30 Value) Known for: Cab, Cab Franc, Sangiovese, Red blends, Syrah, Zin,Petite Sirah

West Wines (Healdsburg): 2 for 1 tasting ($30 Value) Known for Cab, Viognier, Chardonnay, Sauv Blanc

Portalupi (Healdsburg Square): Complimentary 3 pour tasting for TWO with bottle purchase ($20 value) Known for: Red blends, Sauv Blanc

Blanchard Family Winery (Healdsburg Square): 2 Complimentary Tastings BY APPT ONLY and 15% off wine purchases ($20+value) Known for: Red blends, Whites

Spicy Vines (Healdsburg Square): 2 for 1 and 10% off wine purchases Known For: Zinf, Syrah, Petit Sirah, Chardonnay, Rose

Hudson Street Wineries (Healdsburg): Complimentary Tasting and 15% off wine purchases ($10+value) Known for: Chardonnay, Zin, Cab, Syrah, Sauv Blanc, Rose, Petite Sirah, Pinot

Hart’s Desire Wines (Healdsburg): 15% off wine purchases, 20% off case purchases, and complimentary tasting with purchase Known for: Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Grenache, Sangiovese Rose, Pinot, Tempranillo, Zin, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Claret, Late Harvest, and Muscat

White Oak Winery (Healdsburg): Complimentary Tasting, 10% wine purchase, ($25+value) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Syrah, Zin, Cab, Pinot, Red blends

Alexander Valley Vineyards (Healdsburg): 2 for 1 Reserve Tasting ($20 value) Known for: Chardonnay, Merlot, , Zin, Cab, Red blends, Gewertz

Sapphire Hill (Healdsburg): 15% discount on wine purchases, 20% discount on all case purchases & complimentary tasting with bottle purchase ($10+ value) Known for: Sparkling, Moscato, Gewertz.

G&C Lurton Vineyard (Healdsburg): 2 Complimentary tastings and 10% off wine purchases & private estate tour available by appointment ($20+ value) Known for:Bordeaux style wines, cab, merlot, cab franc, sb

Viszlay Vineyards (Healdsburg): 2 for 1 Tastings with Advance Reservations ($15 value) Known for: Rose, Chardonnay, Pinot, Red Blends, Zin, Petite Sirah, and a Prosecco

Merriam Vineyards: (Healdsburg) 2 for 1 Tasting ($15+value) Known for: Cabs, Pinots, Red blends, Petite Verdot, Merlot, Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, and Late Harvest wines

Rued Winery: (Healdsburg) 2 for 1 tasting Known for: Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot, Zin, and Cab

*(voucher req’d)Kendall Jackson: (Healdsburg) Two for One tasting ($15+value) Known for: Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, Meritage, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Muscat, Pinot, Merlot, Cab, Syrah, Zin, Red blend

Manzanita Creek: (Healdsburg) Complimentary Tasting ($15+value) Known for: Syrah, Zin, Chardonnay, Petite Sirah, Pinot, Red blends

Rodney Strong: (Healdsburg) 2 for 1 on our Estate tasting in our tasting room. 15% off Wine Flights and Wine & Food Pairings on our Terrace when available. 15% off Winter Food & Wine Pairings. 15% off wine purchases. (Some wines may not be discounted). ($25+value)

*(voucher req’d)Ferrari-Carano Vineyards: 2 for 1 Classic Tasting ($5value) Known for: Chardonnay, Fume Blanc, Sauv Blanc, Pinot, Merlot, Sangiovese, Zin, Cab, Red blends

Albertina Cellars (Hopland): Complimentary Tasting & Tour. Owner and winemaker will be offering a 1-2hour tour of the vineyard. Known for: CAB, Merlot Reservations Required. BY APPT ONLY

Chacewater: (Lake County) Complimentary Tasting ($10+value) Known for: Chardonnay, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Merlot

Six Sigma: (Lake County) 2 for 1 Tasting ($10+value) Known for: Rose, Sauv Blanc, Pinot, Tempranillo, Cab,

Sky Pine Vineyards & Bobdog Wine: (Cloverdale) Complimentary Tasting ($10+value)Known for: Cab, Malbec, Meritage, Merlot, Port, Rose, Zin, Dessert Wines BY APPT ONLY

Fritz Winery: (Cloverdale) 2 for 1 Reserve Tasting ($15 value) Known for: Rose, Sauv Blanc, Chardonnay, Red blends, Zin, Pinot

 

A Taste of Napa, on a Budget - Things The New York Times Missed!

Local Wally

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Napa on a Budget

Do Napa in a Day.. on a budget!

A Short History of Napa

Napa has a long history but here's a short version.  It was 1839 when the first grapes were planted and in 1861 Charles Krug opened Napa's first commercial winery and sparked the first wave.  By 1899 there were over 140 wineries.  Success wasn't guaranteed and disease and prohibition sent Napa into a tailspin.  It wasn't until 1933 when prohibition was repealed that wineries like Inglenook, Beaulieu, Louis M. Martini and Mondavi brought Napa back from the dead.

People today take wine for granted but that wasn't always the case.  Prior to 1976 most Americans drank beer or cocktails.  Wine was fancy, extravagant, and too confusing.  But that changed with the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, also known as the Judgement of Paris and documented loosely in the movie Bottle Shock.  The French ruled the wine world back then and thought it clever to put their wines against Napa, highly confident they would naturally win.  They didn't and Napa soon exploded - and the wine industry in the US as we know it today was born.

Saving Money in Napa

Visiting Napa today is expensive.  Hotel rooms are hard to get and $300 a night is considered a good deal, even in off season, and wine tasting is on average $25 per person - most people go to 5 wineries a day so a couple can easily spend $250 just on tasting fees.  I decided to try to do Napa on the cheap, to really experience Napa like a first timer on a serious budget.  Here's what I did.

WHERE TO STAY:  For starters, I skipped staying at a hotel.  Instead I shopped the AirBnB's and found a cute cottage for less than $200 a night.  That was easily a hundred bucks a night cheaper than the cheapest hotel.  I collected the best bets for AirBnB's and put them in a separate article you can find here.

TIP:  My friend Jamie rents out a downstairs bedroom as an AirBnB.  If you want a fresh, new, and friendly place to email me and I'll put you in touch with her.  She also can drive you around if yo want to taste without worry of drinking and driving.

Best Cheap Eats Breakfast in Napa - Model Bakery

Best Cheap Eats Breakfast in Napa - Model Bakery

START YOUR DAY:  My first stop was Oxbow Public Market where I set my sights on Model Bakery.  They have GREAT breakfast sandwiches for around $6, made with their famous English Muffins.  You need this breakfast.  You need these muffins.  Trust me, skip the sit down breakfast houses and eat here instead. 

TO WINE PASS OR NOT TO WINE PASS, THAT IS THE QUESTION:  If you've been on my site you know I am a big fan of the Priority Wine Pass.  I used to promote free coupons, phone apps, passports, but no one does it better than the annual Priority Wine Pass.  It's basically a two for one pass you show on your phone, saving you $25 or more on average at every stop.  Get it HERE to get my discount - it will be $39.99 but you only need one pass per couple.  Of course you don't need to get the pass but you will be kicking yourself at the first winery when they tell you two tastings are $50 and you realize you could have both had tastings for half that price.

FIRST STOP, A TOUR:  So with the Priority Wine Pass loaded on my phone I was off to the races.  I wanted to experience Napa like a true first timer so I opted for a tour to see how wine is made.  I picked Bell Winery and did their Grape to Glass tour which is pretty fantastic.  I've been on a lot of tours and most of them have you walking through vineyards in the hot sun and make you listen to a boring presentation before letting you sip some wine.  The Bell tour is short, just enough to get a feel for production and history, and before you know it you're in the barrels room and they're popping open a bottle of sparkling.  Bell has great wines and you move all the way through the gamut until you get to deep bold reds.  It's a 90 minute experience, reservations are required, and it was half off with the Priority Wine Pass.  That made it $25 per person which is a killer deal.

The gardens at The French Laundry.  Photo Credit Gardenista.com.

The gardens at The French Laundry.  Photo Credit Gardenista.com.

CHEAP LUNCH IN NAPA:  Remember how I told you to go to Oxbow Public Market for breakfast?  Another reason why I love Oxbow as my first stop is for their cheap lunch supplies.  Don't get all fancy, a baguette, some cheese, and perhaps some deli meats is all you need for a great Napa picnic.  Don't forget the waters! 

For the adventurous and spirited head over to The French Laundry, Thomas Keller's famous high end restaurant where dinner for two will set you back a thousand bucks.  No, I'm not saying you should eat there.  Instead go across the street to their gardens and you'll find a few picnic tables and a chairs.  Be discreet and you found the perfect picnic spot.  Of course they might kick you out but that's why I said you need to be adventurous! 

My wife is a bit of a chicken so instead of risking being kicked out of the French Laundry gardens we headed over to Napa Cellars, one of the best winery picnic spots.  What makes Napa Cellars so good is that they give you two for one glasses of wine with your Priority Wine Pass, perfect for enjoying with your lunchtime snack.  Napa Cellars is $20 per person but two for one with the pass - $10 per person for a glass of wine and picnic spot, that's a good deal.

Sutter Home Winery in Napa.  Photo Credit:  Napa Wine Project

Sutter Home Winery in Napa.  Photo Credit:  Napa Wine Project

THE LAST FREE TASTING IN NAPA?  Sutter Home Winery, the folks who brought you White Zinfandel so many years ago, is perhaps the last free tasting left in Napa.  The gardens are beautiful and the wine is free so why not stop?  OK, yes, it's not going to blow your socks off but free wine is free wine.  I tried it.  I did!  And yes, the gardens are beautiful :-)

Beringer Winery in Napa

Beringer Winery in Napa

IT'S TOURISTY, IT'S POPULAR, BUT IT'S WORTH IT:  Beringer Winery is perhaps the most beautiful winery in all of Napa.  Tasting fees are $25 per person but you get two for one so it's another bargain.  Lots to see, there's a retail shop, gardens, and lush landscaping all around.  It's the perfect last stop.  I normally skip Beringer due to the crowds but really loved it here. There was live music, a fun vibe, I liked this stop a lot!

Let's Do the Math

So how much did this day cost you?  Let's assume you got the Priority Wine Pass so you got the savings.

BREAKFAST:  Less than $20 for two for breakfast sandwiches and coffees.

BELL WINERY:  $50 tour for two.

PICNIC LUNCH:  Less than $20 for two for a baguette, cheese, meats and waters.

NAPA CELLARS:  $20 for two.

SUTTER HOME:  Free tastings

BERINGER WINERY:  $25 for two.

TOTAL COST FOR TWO:  $135 + $39.99 for Wine Pass = $174.99.  That's only $90 per person! That's not bad since I didn't really cut any corners.  Heck, even the stop at Sutter Home was fun and helped me stretch the wine tasting budget. 

Dinner on a Budget?

Happy Hour at The Bounty Hunter in downtown Napa

Happy Hour at The Bounty Hunter in downtown Napa

I didn't forget about dinner.  My absolute favorite budget dining in Napa is the Happy Hour at Bounty Hunter where you can get ribs and slaw for $6 and two for one glasses of wine.  Bounty Hunter has very credible BBQ and is worth it at any price but the Happy Hour before 6PM, M-F, is place to be.

FREE ADVICE

Don't forget, you can email me if you ever want my free, unbiased advice!  I can guide you to the best of Napa on a Budget and show you the wineries, restaurants, and places I love in Napa!

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Do's and Don'ts of Napa Valley

Local Wally

Regusci Winery in Napa

Regusci Winery in Napa

Coming to Napa Valley for the first time?  Overwhelmed?  Confused?  Don't be - just follow my easy Napa Do's and Dont's and you'll be sipping wine like an expert!

DO HAVE A PLAN:  The days of driving up and down Highway 29 and pulling into any old winery that looks interesting are over.  You should have your winery stops mapped out, the first one at 10AM and the last one at 4.  Give yourself 45 minutes to an hour at each stop and make sure you google map the distance between wineries so you don't end up driving up and down the valley.

DON'T OVERBOOK YOUR DAY:  Think you can hit 8 to 10 wineries in a day?  Forgetaboutit!  Figure 4 to 5 max.  You don't want to be rushing from one winery to another.

DON'T FORGET YOUR ANNUAL WINE PASS:  There's no more free wine tasting in Napa other than Sutter Home - you know, the White Zinfandel folks, enough said on that!  Most Napa wineries now charge $25 or more per person, meaning it's very easy to run up a couple hundred bucks in fees per day.  That's why I recommend the Priority Wine Pass - it gets you two for one tastings at over 75 wineries, saving you half on your fees.  Get it here with my discount - it will be $39.99 but you only need one pass per couple.  Here's the ever growing list of wineries who accept the pass - Get the pass and I'll even help you pick out the best wineries for you if you email me with your dates.

DO MAKE RESERVATIONS:  This is especially true during the busy seasons - Summer and Fall being the busiest.  With huge crowds that rival Disneyland, waiting in line at the "come one, come all" wineries can mean long waits.  But book a reservation and show up on time and in you go like winery royalty - built in crowd control. 

Easy sipping at Inglenook Winery in Napa

Easy sipping at Inglenook Winery in Napa

DON'T DO LUNCH, DO A PICNIC:  Lunch is for suckers.  I mean, you're in Napa to taste wine, not waste two hours doing lunch.  Instead pack a picnic and make sure your winery stop at noon allows them.  That's right, not all wineries allow picnics due to regulations but here's a recently updated list of the ones who do. A little crusty bread, a little cheese, some salami, get your supplies either at Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa, Oakville Grocery, or Dean & Deluca.  And there ain't nothing wrong with just snacking on the go, dropping crumbs in your rental car as you head to the next stop.  Don't forget the waters!

DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE:  There was a time when everyone on the road in Napa probably had a bit too much to drink but don't chance it.  Either have a Designated Driver or hire someone to drive your car.  Who to hire?  Start with my friend Jamie, the gal who owns the Priority Wine Pass company.  She's my first pick not because she's my friend but because she knows all the wineries so when you walk in with her they'll treat you like a VIP.  Other drivers who have earned the Local Wally Stamp of Approval are found here.

DO VISIT THE BOUTIQUE WINERIES:  Quick, name some wineries in Napa!  I bet you came up with Mondavi, Sterling, Beringer, and maybe Castello di Amorosa, the Napa Castle.  Well guess what?  Every other first timer came up with the same names meaning these wineries will be packed.  But Napa has hundreds of wineries tucked away that offer great wine, friendly hospitality, and a Napa experience that's not unlike what you would have found twenty years ago.  Don't believe people on TripAdvisor who claim the boutiques are "second rate" - they don't know what they're talking about.  Just remember to make reservations at the boutiques and they are limited by how many people they can serve in a day so Pop In's are not allowed.

Redd Wood in Napa (Yountville) makes a fantastic steak!

Redd Wood in Napa (Yountville) makes a fantastic steak!

DO MAKE YOUR DINNER RESERVATIONS AT A RESTAURANT NEAR YOUR HOTEL:  When you're home and deciding on where to eat dinner it's easy to make the mistake of picking a place that's far from your hotel.  After all, you figure, you're only here once so who cares if you need to drive 15 miles?  Well trust me, after a day of wine tasting you're going to want a restaurant that's walking distance from your hotel or so close the air conditioner in your car doesn't get cool before you arrive.  If you do have your heart set on a restaurant that's far from your hotel, plan out your tasting day to end near your dinner destination.

DO MORE THAN TASTE WINE IN NAPA:  Don't forget that Napa has more to offer than wine tasting.  Some of the popular excursions are the Napa Wine Train, hot air balloon rides, mud baths and spa treatment, and golf.  If you plan to do any of these make sure you get the Priority Wine Pass (see above) as you can often get discounts with it.  And if you are here for more than a couple of days a side trip to Sonoma is a good getaway and a nice contrast to the more developed Napa area.

DO TIP YOUR SERVER:  It's not required but Napa etiquette is to toss in a few bucks if your wine server gave you an enjoyable experience.  And buy wine if you like it - the wineries main goal is to sell wine so go into each winery assuming you will take home a bottle or two.

DO A WINE BLENDING CLASS:  If you like wine but have a hard time describing what you like in a wine then splurge on a wine blending class.  My favorite is Conn Creek's Blending Experience where you taste 6 cabs grown in different areas of Napa and decide what you like or dislike in each one.  From there you carefully add a touch of this or that until you have a perfect bottle suited to your taste.  In the end you bottle it up, cork it, and add a label and you'll take home the perfect blend - or is it?  Do this with friends and do a blind tasting with you get home to see who made the best wine.  It's fun, educational, and you'll gain years of tasting experience in an hour and a half.  And yes, you can get a discount with the Priority Wine Pass.