Recently returning from a long {but never long enough!} weekend trip to Napa Valley, the number one topic re: questions I received were in regards to Covid-19. ‘What’s it like there right now’? ‘Are things open’? ‘We have a trip booked soon – would you recommend still visiting during this time’? One of my best friends lives in San Fransisco and I asked her some of these exact same questions prior to our trip. So I get it. There’s only so much research one can do online to have a good mental picture of what an area is like prior to visiting right now. An every city/area in the country is so different. SO, I thought it may be helpful to shed some light on what to expect visiting Napa Valley during covid times.

This post is not intended to guide you on whether it’s ‘safe’ to travel. That’s a decision only you can make. But more of an overall guide to what Napa Valley is currently like, should you choose to visit! Having experienced the region multiple times over the years, it was easy for us to pin point differences from past trips; a couple things we missed vs. what’s virtually the same.

Overall Vibe

Enthusiastic! Wine region is officially in harvest season, and while the valley may not be as bustling as it’s been in years past, businesses are open + hungry for business! Similarly to the rest of the country, Napa businesses have closed, opened, closed and re-opened. They’re figuring out how to best serve their customers + staff just like everyone else. And are taking all proper precautions to do so while maintaining successful businesses.

napa valley during covid

When in doubt, mask up.

Differences During Covid Era

If you’ve visited Napa Valley in the past, you’ll of course pick up on a few differences from previous trips. But nothing that would deter us from considering another visit in the near future. Reservations are a MUST. Everywhere. So that’s certainly something to be prepared for. Be sure to time out your tastings accordingly {along with driving time in between}, so you don’t feel rushed from place to place.

I think the main aspect we really missed during our trip was the ability to pop into tasting rooms for a quick flight, or grab a bite at a bar. We’ve always enjoyed meeting and chatting with other travelers in this setting! Where other people are visiting from, vineyards they enjoyed – an exchange of dialogue. Sadly, not much of that is happening with the current state of affairs. But we just looked at is as more quality time together.

Secondly, you may also find there are currently fewer experiences/time slots available for tours + tastings. Furthermore, what is available is a bit more expensive than in years past. We were hard pressed to find even a simple 3 pour tasting for under $50. Compared to in years past, you could easily pop into a tasting room for a quick $15-$25 line up. This is due to a sheer numbers game. The vineyards are limited on the number of people they can safely host on-site each day {especially with most indoor tasting rooms closed}. Therefore we found that many of the experiences being offered, are just that – experiences. Longer tastings, private walk-thrus, more pairing options, special add-ons, etc. It all makes total sense in the grand scheme, but just something to be aware of when planning.

In terms of what’s open – I would say the majority of major vineyards + wineries are open for business and happily serving guests! There were a few smaller/family owned places that weren’t currently open, but you’ll certainly have plenty to choose from in order to have a well rounded itinerary.

Outdoor Dining To Love

Luckily Napa Valley is already equipped to provide fantastic outdoor dining options to patrons. The weather begs for all fresco dining pretty much year round! The county had recently {as in the day before we landed} got the go-ahead to re-open indoor dining at 25% capacity. But we found the majority of restaurants, especially smaller ones, still sticking to outdoor only seating. We certainly didn’t mind! A few of our favorite spots we’ve experienced over the years {some of which we re-visited on this most recent trip} include:

BRIX : A brunch staple in the area. Brix’s outdoor space is stunning! Tables sprinkled around the patio, overlooking the garden and mountains just beyond. Currently their famous Sunday Brunch spread is being offered al la cart {as opposed to buffet style}, and is delicious as ever.

FAVORITES: Avocado Toast + Fried Pickles

Farmstead at Longmeadow Ranch : Holy cuteness! This property has changed so much since we had been years back, and it’s incredible to see how far they’re come! Pretty much everything on the menu is locally {on from their own garden} sourced. Including some of their fantastic wine selection! The food is amazing, and the outdoor ambiance is so special as tables are thoughtfully placed throughout espaliered apple trees, which provides a really special, intimate dining atmosphere in what is naturally a pretty large restaurant patio.

FAVORITES: Farmstead Rosé + Mini Ham Sandwiches {they’re served on cheddar biscuits!}

RH Yountville : Similar to their other locations, Restoration Hardware does it again with this Yountville spot! Literally the perfect place to enjoy a romantic dinner {or tasting} in napa valley during covid with a plethora of beautiful outdoor areas.

FAVORITES: Fries + wine.

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