Harvest season in Napa Valley is the time when the area’s carefully grown grapes are ripe and ready to be picked. It’s a momentous event for Napa winemakers, who’ve spent months tending to their vines in the hope of a successful harvest. The season runs from August through October, and vineyards throughout the region host events and festivals to celebrate.
Napa Valley’s harvest season is an exciting blend of Californian culture and new, tasty wines. Harvest-season activities like grape stomping and grape picking attract travelers from far and wide, and the variety of harvest parties -- including some black-tie events -- only adds to the fun.
While Napa Valley is crowded during harvest season, being there for the occasion is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that simply can’t be missed. If you’re planning a harvest-season trip to the area, here are the best wine country experiences to add to your itinerary.
Blessing Of The Grapes At Grgich Hills Estate
Every year, Grgich Hills Estate officially kicks off harvest season with a Blessing of the Grapes. The event dates back to the winery’s founding in 1977, but the tradition dates back to the time of the Old Testament, according to Visit Napa Valley. Once the grapes are blessed, you can enjoy a glass of wine, grab a slice of wood-fired pizza, or try your foot at grape stomping, free of charge.
Don’t miss the 2019 Blessing of the Grapes on August 30 at 10 a.m.!
Calistoga Harvest Table
To celebrate harvest season, the Calistoga Chamber of Commerce hosts an annual Calistoga Harvest Table where dozens of local restaurants and wineries (40 to be exact!) join forces for a night of feasting and fun.
The 2019 event will take place on September 8 at 4:30 p.m. in downtown Calistoga. It will kick off with a happy hour highlighting local wineries, Calistoga American Viticultural Area wines, and a smorgasbord of Calistoga delicacies.
Harvest Ball At V. Sattui Winery
Napa Valley’s Harvest Ball is the perfect excuse to get dolled up for an evening celebrating the harvest. The soirée includes live entertainment, upscale local cuisine, and -- of course -- some of the area’s best new wines. This black-tie event takes place on the Tuscan-inspired grounds of the V. Sattui Winery. The Italian inspiration carries over to the cuisine, and Michelin-star chefs like Stefano Masanti pair wine with local bites.
The 2019 Harvest Ball will take place on September 14 from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Harvest Lobster Feast At Monticello Vineyards
Monticello Vineyards pairs wine with fresh lobster as part of its Harvest Lobster Feast timed to Napa’s annual harvest season. The laid-back lobster feast includes a lobster-boil dinner and harvest-season education, as the team at Monticello Vineyards shares a behind-the-scenes look at what this important time of year is like across Napa.
This year’s event on September 14 will kick off at 5 p.m.
Harvest Celebration And Stomp At Castello Di Amorosa
Few things say “harvest season” like grape stomping, and Castello di Amorosa is the perfect place to get your fill of the sport. The Harvest Celebration and Stomp involves some friendly competition -- teams compete to see who can produce the most juice -- with lively festivities and entertainment afterward, including harvest and winemaking demonstrations, a wine country dinner buffet, and local wines from Castello.
The 2019 event, which will take place on September 20 from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., will conclude with live music and dancing.
Autumn Fête At Robert Mondavi Winery
Robert Mondavi Winery jump starts harvest season with a multicourse feast of grilled meats, seafood, fresh produce, and the latest and greatest Robert Mondavi wines. This autumn fête is renowned for live music on the winery’s scenic grounds.
The 2019 event on September 21 will finish with a selection of French desserts.
Winemaker For A Day Program At Raymond Vineyards
At Raymond Vineyards, guests are immersed in the world of winemaking -- not just wine drinking -- during the Winemaker for a Day program. Guests learn how to blend their own red wine in the vineyard’s blending room; following the experience, guests can take home a custom-label bottle of their very own blend.
This experience is open year-round, but reservations are required.
Day In The Life Program At Round Pond Estate
Ever wondered what life is like for a Napa Valley winemaker? Round Pond Estate gives guests the chance to spend some time in a winemaker’s shoes. The 5-hour, harvest-timed Day in the Life experience consists of an introduction to the different stages of winemaking followed by a guided olive-oil tasting and an artisanal lunch on the estate grounds.
This year, the experience will take place on October 5; reservations are required.
Napa Valley Harvest Races
By participating in the Napa Valley Harvest Half Marathon, 10K & 5K, visitors can enjoy autumn in Napa Valley while burning some calories. The scenic race kicks off and ends at the Calistoga Beverage Company in northern Napa. It follows the Silverado Trail for a flat, quick run past vineyards and wineries as well as the Mount Saint Helena and Palisades mountain ranges. The race ends with a celebration featuring food and wine.
The 2019 race will take place on Sunday, October 20.
Paraduxx X² Release Harvest Party At Paraduxx Winery
Every year, Paraduxx Winery kicks off harvest season by debuting a new wine at a harvest party.
At the 2019 event on September 28, Paraduxx will unveil the year’s new vintage, the 2016 Paraduxx X². There will also be tastings, grape stompings, local fare, and lawn games.
Landmark Harvest Festival At Landmark Vineyards
Wine tasting is an essential part of a visit to wine country, and the Landmark Harvest Festival is one of the best places to try what the area has to offer. The event takes place at Landmark Vineyards and features barbecue, live music, and samples of the vineyards’ chardonnays and pinot noirs.
Mark your calendar for the 2019 tasting on October 5.
Trefethen Harvest Boot Camp At Trefethen Family Vineyards
Immerse yourself in the harvest season by spending a day picking grapes and shadowing winemakers. As part of the Trefethen Harvest Boot Camp, guests pick grapes at the Trefethen Family Vineyards and take an educational stroll through the winery, where experts discuss everything that goes into winemaking. The visit concludes with a tasting of future vintages and an al fresco lunch on the beautiful Trefethen grounds.
The 2019 event will take place on September 28; reservations are required.
Harvest season isn’t just about wine. It’s also about cider! The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Copia hosts an annual Ciderfest to celebrate another fall favorite -- apples. The event features ciders from across the country -- from Vermont to California -- along with local bites, live entertainment, and family-friendly fun.
Ciderfest 2019 will take place on September 1 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Harvest Moon Concert At Clif Family Winery
The Clif Family Winery welcomes wine lovers and music enthusiasts to its annual Harvest Moon Concert. The event centers on the highly anticipated release of a new wine -- in 2019, the Clif Family Winery’s 2016 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon -- and features music by beloved Bay Area Swampy Tonk dance bands.
In 2019, the Harvest Moon Concert will kick off at 6 p.m. on September 14.
The annual Carnivus Maximus is beloved by locals and visitors alike. The event has all the makings of a great party -- wine, food, and live music -- plus games and prizes so that guests can go home with some extra goodies. There’s a wine release, and the food includes local oysters, charcuterie, wood-fired pizza, and shaved ice. The fun continues into the afternoon with live music and a photo booth.
This year’s Carnivus Maximus will take place on September 1 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Crocker & Starr’s 2016 Stone Place Cabernet Sauvignon and 2016 1 Post Cabernet Sauvignon will make their grand entrance at the festival.
Blue Note Napa
If you need a break from winery visits, grab tickets to the Blue Note Napa, an esteemed jazz club in the heart of downtown Napa. The Blue Note Napa is located in the historic Napa Valley Opera House; it brings the flavor and funk of New York’s original Greenwich Village Blue Note club all the way to wine country. The Blue Note features live entertainment plus farm-to-table cuisine and, of course, local wines.
Concerts abound throughout harvest season, including 2019 performances by Leela James, Marcus Johnson, Al Di Meola, and Dennis Quaid.
Harvest Season is a culinary adventure that’s even better with an expert local guide (and driver -- always good to have in wine country). If you’re in need of a Napa Valley tour guide, we’ve compiled eight of the best Napa Valley tour options, from group tours to hot air balloon trips. Happy harvest!