There’s more to Wine Country than Harvest. Though that’s the most popular time of year to visit for a reason, there’s a lot to enjoy following it. Whether you enjoy the hustle and bustle of the busy harvest season or the more relaxing Cabernet Season in the area, there are so many appealing aspects drawing visitors to Napa Valley during the next few months. Here is everything you need to know about these crucial times in the winemaking process.


Harvest Time in Wine Country

Running from August through October, harvest time in Napa Valley, Sonoma and Mendocino is definitely the most busy season in the area. During this time, grape growers are rushing to pick their crop at optimal ripeness to ensure the best wine possible. Harvest season means the fields are aglow with plump ripe grapes and the area is bustling as crews work to them.

The harvest season is typically broken into three stages. The season begins with farmers picking the grapes used for sparkling wines, followed by white wine grapes shortly thereafter. The season wraps up in October and early November as the grapes for red varieties are brought in. Some late-harvest wine grapes are also picked in December to allow the grapes to form more highly concentrated sugars.

All the hustle and bustle of harvest season makes it an enticing time to visit area wineries for a rare behind-the-scenes look into the wine-making process. That makes harvest season by far the busiest time for tastings and tours at Napa Valley wineries. Some wineries even celebrate the season with fun harvest parties and dinners. Area restaurants also take part by offering delicious seasonal menus featuring fall flavors like butternut squash, heirloom tomatoes, and pumpkin.








Cabernet Season 

Following the busy harvest season, Napa Valley and Sonoma begin to slow down and relax (even leisurely Mendocino goes a tick slower), giving grape growers a chance to take in their harvest and celebrate a successful growing season. Known as “cabernet season,” the time between November and April is a rewarding time to visit the area. In addition to less traffic and tourists, visitors can also take advantage of the opportunities to interact with local vinters and learn more about the winemaking process.

As life begins to slow in the area during this time of year, the weather also cools and the foliage throughout Napa Valley takes on a beautiful new shape. The area’s trees begin to change color and the creeks start to swell from winter rains, making the entirety of Napa Valley a sight to be seen. And as the weather grows colder, area restaurateurs are prompted to change their menus once more, offering heartier fare to complement the season. 

The pace is slower during Cabernet Season, the crowds are smaller and Napa Valley is just as stunning. Whether you chose to travel to your favorite winery for the first sip of a new sauvignon release or decide to pair your wine with a delicious meal at one of the area’s many Michelin-rated restaurants, you’re sure to enjoy yourself.