Are you looking for an affordable napa valley wine tour? Discover 7 Tips for Taking Your Dream Napa Valley Wine Tour on an Itty Bitty Budget! Ah, good ol’ Napa Valley. The luxurious wineries, amazing hotels, expansive views, decadent spas, world-class restaurants … and … those prices. If you want to live large, you have to spend large, right? Not so fast! There are several ways to cut huge chunks off those sizable price tags and get the Napa Valley wine tour you want, without spending your retirement savings, the kids’ college fund, and the dog’s treat and toy allowance for the next year and a half. Here are the best ways to do Napa on the cheap.
1. Make the Napa Valley Visitors’ Center Your First Stop
No, visitors centers are not for saps and nerds. At least, ours isn’t. At the Napa Valley Visitor’s Center, you can get a Wine Tasting Card for $30. This card gives you access to a dozen of the area’s finest tasting rooms, and the card doesn’t expire for a full year. So if you can’t stay long enough to get in 12 tastings (who … hiccup … can?) you can come back later to redeem the rest. Also, the visitor’s center has tons of coupon books, brochures, maps, and other stuff that helps you find your way around and get the best deals, plus the maps and brochures make for some killer (free) bling to take back to your mom and the kids. You’re welcome.
2. Start by Booking a Reputable Napa Valley Car Service
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can’t afford a limo wine tour, because the truth of the matter is, you can’t afford not to take one. First, your Napa limo service can hook you up with the best hotels and restaurants that offer great deals. Aside from finding your best prices, they can save you from the number one costliest mistake in Napa Valley: a DWI. Defending yourself against a California DWI charge starts at around $10,000 and skyrockets from there, not to mention the damage to your record and reputation.
Additionally, a car service saves you from other costly mistakes like getting lost and missing your tasting room reservations or dinner reservations. Navigating Napa Valley and the notorious NorCal traffic isn’t for the faint of heart.
3. Visit at the Right Times
Summertime and harvest time are the most popular seasons of the year in Napa Valley, and prices are hiked accordingly. If you come in the peak season, you pay more for everything from hotel rates to restaurant prices. Prices (as well as crowds and lines and wait times) go down considerably during the slower months: from December through April. Spring comes early here in Napa Valley, and you can see the first wildflowers and yellow mustard plants blooming as early as February.
During the winter, expect temps around a pleasant 50-60 degrees, excellent temperatures for long vineyard tours, hiking, mountain biking, and other outdoor activities. As with most tourist locations, everything is also cheaper on the weekdays. If you can plan your Napa Valley wine tour for Monday through Thursday, the prices for many things will be better any time of year you visit.
4. Book Accommodations Outside Napa Valley Proper
You can also save considerably if you don’t insist in lodging in Napa Valley proper. There are numerous communities nearby with very reasonable accommodations. Calistoga is known for their elegant spas, but there are some quite affordable hotels and motels there. Fairfield and much of Sonoma County also offer reasonable hotel rooms. You can also save if you’re traveling with several other wine tourists and qualify for a group rate.
If you’re into adventure, there are numerous places to camp nearby, too. Try the Napa Valley Expo RV Park, Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, or Steele Canyon Campground for phenomenal views, plenty of R&R, and a short drive to all of Napa’s great wineries and other activities. With the mild temperatures, there are few times of year that it’s too cold for a hearty camper.
5. Eat High on the Hog & Low on the Wallet
Many of Napa Valley’s world-class restaurants come with world-class prices. For an authentic 4- or 5-star meal, expect to pay upwards of $500. But if you don’t want to relegate yourself to a year of Ramen noodles and Beanie Weenies when you get back home, you can opt for one of the many affordable restaurants here that offer meals at surprisingly low prices. Consider:
• Grace’s Table (bistro)
• Ad Hoc (You get whatever they happen to be serving, but it’s always good!)
• Bounty Hunter (BBQ)
• Gott’s Roadside (American — Think burgers.)
• Model Bakery (Reportedly serving Oprah’s favorite English muffins.)
• Redd Wood (Get it? Redwood? They serve pizza.)
• Clemente’s (Italian, take-out only)
You can also save big bucks by choosing a hotel with a kitchenette and make some meals in. Fresh produce from local growers is readily available at the farmers’ markets and stores like:
• Oxbow Public Market
• Browns Valley Market
• Napa Farmers’ Market
• Calistoga Farmers’ Market
• Silverado Market and Bakery
Better yet, plan some picnics! Some of the vineyards accommodate picnickers (including V. Sattui, which offers food, wine, and picnics on the grounds), and there are tons of picnic sites at the area parks:
• Westwood Hills Park
• Bothe-Napa Valley State Park
• Skyline Wilderness Park
• Oak Shores Day Use Area
6. Schedule Some Non-Wine Related Activities
There is much more to Napa Valley than just wine. Save money by spending time touring other things in Napa Valley and surrounding areas. The ocean isn’t too far and there are majestic Redwood and Sequoia trees all over the region. In fact, we’ve created a whole list of things to do here that have nothing at all to do with wine.
7. Don’t Try to Do Too Much in One Visit
One sure way to overspend in Napa Valley is to try to do too much. A one- or two-day limo wine tour, plus a day or two of shopping, sightseeing, or relaxing at one of the area’s great parks is a whale of a vacation. Cramming too much into a short trip doesn’t just drive up costs, it also means you don’t really take the time to enjoy the things you’re doing. Napa really is too beautiful to rush through.
Visit Allure Wine Tours to book your amazingly affordable Napa Valley wine tour today!