The Napa Valley is a wonderful getaway to enjoy delicious food and spectacular wines. The beautiful views while driving through the vineyards is part of the entire experience. I love Napa because it is a perfect weekend getaway. A weekend spent wine tasting with family or friends is one of my favorite things to do.
Although Napa is such a wonderful place, all those tasting fees can add up very quickly! If you are looking to watch your budget, you will have to plan a bit in advance. But don’t worry, it is very possible to go to Napa even on a tight budget!
Here are my top tips for saving money in Napa:
Carefully Choose Which Wineries You Visit
There are hundreds of wineries in the Napa/Sonoma region that it can be difficult to choose! Prices range from free tastings to more than $30 a tasting. If you opt for the pricier ones, you could easily reach $100 for two or three tastings. You really can’t go wrong with wineries in Napa. They all have their own charm and unique style. I suggest you choose one that you really have your heart set on and then a couple nearby that are lower priced.
Use Apps or Groupons
I used the Winery Finder app on my last trip to Napa. You just have to take a picture of yourself at the vineyard and post to Facebook and the winery will give you a discount or free tasting. (Plus you know you are going to post a picture on Facebook anyway, so it’s a win-win!) They even have a map showing the vineyards that accept the app, which makes it easy to plan out your day. You can also check on discount sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, TravelZoo or Amazon Local for tasting discounts.
Purchase a Wine Pass
If you are spending more than a day in the Napa Valley or plan on returning again within the year, a wine pass will help you save a lot of money! The Sonoma Passport will get you free and discounted tastings at over 50 wineries in Sonoma County. There are many other passes out there, so do your research! Keep an eye out for deals on passes too. I bought the Sonoma Passport for half off on LivingSocial.
Pack a Picnic
Many vineyards have picnic tables that allow you to eat your picnic with a beautiful view. Stop by a grocery store, bakery or sandwich shop and grab your goodies for the day. My favorite picnic items? Apricots, apples, salami, cheese, bread and the amazing rosemary almonds from Trader Joe’s. Last time I went to Napa, my friends and I picked up a loaf of cheesy sourdough from Model Bakery. It was AMAZING (and yes, we finished the whole loaf in a day). Just make sure to check ahead of time if you can bring outside food to a vineyard.
Don’t Taste at Every Winery
It’s important to keep a good pace in Napa. You can’t truly enjoy the wine if you have too much! It is perfectly normal to skip a tasting and have other people in your group taste instead. Or you can purchase just a glass of wine or a bottle for your group. These little savings will add up. Keep in mind that some vineyards require that everyone buys a tasting. (This is usually wineries where the location itself is an attraction and have entry fees like Sterling or Castello di Amorosa.) Do your research ahead to figure out which vineyards you will be required to pay for.
Eat at the Many Markets
The Napa Valley is known for their spectacular dining choices. Some of the best food in the world is located here. This can be quite pricey though if you are trying to save money. To help save, I love eating at the farmer’s markets in the area. For a full list of farmer’s markets in Sonoma county click here and for the Napa County click here. Downtown Napa also has the Oxbow Public Market, which is an indoor market with various permanent food vendors.
Important note for tastings: You are often required to make reservations at a winery if you are visiting wineries with a group (usually a group is 6 or more people). Keep this in mind when planning out your day.
Also remember to drive responsibly or get a taxi/uber if everyone wants to drink!
For all the specific planning details you need for your trip to wine country including my reviews of specific wineries, check out my post on All the Planning Details for Napa Valley.