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Napa Valley has just seen its busiest tourist month of the year come and go. October, during the height of harvest is when the Valley sees more tourists than any other month. From October, visits fall precipitously until January, which sees the fewest visitors. All this is leading me to the point that November just may be the best month of year to visit Napa Valley…
For those looking for pure striking beauty, November is when the vineyards light up with a cacophony of colors ranging from green and yellow to orange and brilliant red. I’m a fan of finding a hillside where you can look down on the Valley during this splendorous time of the year.
But it’s not just the gorgeous colors. It’s the weather too that makes November the best month to visit this wine valley. Your average temperature is going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of upper 50s to upper 60s and you are just as likely to see blue skies as you are overcast, along with a nice cool breeze. It means you get to wear sweaters and dress comfortably. The nights can get chilly with our clear skies but you don’t care because at night you will be driving to one of the warm and warmly lit restaurants up and down the valley for a long meal, with good wine. And even if you do take a stroll in downtown Napa or Saint Helena or Yountville, you’ve got that warm coat to keep you happy.
Another attraction for November visitors I mentioned above: fewer people. In fact, roughly half as many visitors will be in the Valley in November than there were in October. What this means is fewer people in the tasting rooms, an easier time getting the table at the restaurant of your choice, a quieter, gentler mood all around and, thankfully, less traffic on Highway 29 and Silverado Trail.
Most Cabernet Sauvignon ages in bottle for between 16 and 18 months. Some longer, some shorter. What this means is that a large number of Cabernets from the vintage two years ago are being released into the markets and tasting rooms. November turns out to be a great time to taste something new and to assess the vintage of two years ago. And don’t forget, most wineries will happily ship in November, whereas in the summer months many would not to avoid hot weather spoiling the wine during the shipment. Translation: Instant gratification.
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