Are you trying to decide between a Napa Valley limo tour, a bus tour, a self-guided tour, or perhaps the train? You might want to consider a few things before making up your mind. Of course, we hope you choose a limo wine tour! But even if you select one of the other options, we want you to be aware of the challenges of going it on your own in Napa Valley, particularly if you’ve never been here before and are coming during the busy summer and fall seasons. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Napa Valley Hosts 3.5 Million Visitors Per Year
The city of Napa is permanent home to just over 80,000 souls. Napa Valley as a whole is home to just over 142,000. These would be relatively small communities (especially by California standards), except for the fact that the population swells by a whopping 3.5 million tourists each year. Most of these visit between spring and fall, either to see the wildflowers blooming, or enjoy the vines laden with grapes, or to witness the spectacle that is harvest and winemaking time. Can you say traffic? Because we live traffic. Don’t be fooled by promises of a 10-minute drive on your phone’s navigation. Add a driver who wasn’t too careful at his last 5 wine tastings this morning, and really crowded becomes we’re-never-ever-going-to-get-there pretty quickly. A limo wine tour guide knows how to get you around the hectic traffic and occasional jams and make all your wine tasting appointments on time.
2. Highways and Byways and Right-of-Ways — Oh my!
Though Hwy. 29 is the most popular route for those who land in San Francisco and drive up to Napa, it’s also the most crowded. There are actually a number of highways and smaller roads, and a lot of the wineries and restaurants you want to visit are along the other routes. Add to this some complications downtown, including a few changes in one-way and two-way streets (our citizens and city council don’t always agree 100% on which streets should be which direction), and driving in Napa is a bit more complex than meets the eye. Don’t risk an accident, an embarrassing incident, or a traffic ticket. Relax and let the professional limo drivers escort you in and around Napa Valley.
3. Napa’s Real Treasures Aren’t All on the Main Drag
Many of the best vineyards, wineries, and restaurants in Napa aren’t along the heavily-traveled roads, but are instead tucked away in some of the lesser-traveled roads we spoke about. Sure, you’ll want to visit the big wineries like Beringer, but you won’t want to miss on the smaller, virtually unknown family-owned wineries. After all, you can get Beringer at most any store in the country with a liquor license. The mom-and-pop shops are where the amazing hidden treasures are. These small wineries take incredible pride in their product, and you won’t find better wines anywhere.
4. Navigation (Siri & Google Maps) Aren’t Always 100% Up-to-Date
Remember the one-way, two-way, and other confusing streets we talked about? Yeah, about that … the navigation systems aren’t always right on the money when it comes to updating these changes. Sometimes, they’ll show the wrong information, and if you were a little pinched for time already, you’re way late for your wine tasting appointment by the time you get the directions figured out. On a limo wine tour, you never have to worry about whether your satellite connection is working or whether or not a Google driver has been down this route in the past couple of years.
5. ‘A Few Miles’ in California Isn’t the Same as Back Home
If you tell someone from Birmingham or Des Moines, “It’s a few miles that-a-way,” these drivers expect to arrive in a few minutes. That’s not the case in Northern California. Depending on the time of year, the time of day, and a few other factors, the couple of miles from Napa to Yountville can take a half hour. Or more. A professional driver can reroute you around the heaviest traffic, road construction, and any vehicle accidents or other delays, meaning you spend more time touring vineyards and sipping wine in the tasting rooms, and less time stuck in traffic fuming.