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Matt Mills
August 19, 2015 | Matt Mills

Touring Napa with 5 Easy Steps

With fall around the corner and harvest vastly approaching we will soon be seeing a lot more of our veteran visitors along with the rookies to make their plans to indulge in everything the Napa Valley has to offer. As Baldacci’s Certified Wine Snob, I have some experience of how to make the most of your trip in Napa Valley. I have created a list of tips to make your next visit to see us even better. 


1. Call Ahead       

The most discussed issue in our Tasting Room is how a surprising the number of wineries are now asking for appointments regardless of party size.

Although perhaps more prevalent now, this has been a legal requirement for most tasting rooms to stay within their permitted usage (of which Baldacci Family Vineyards must also comply) for a number of years and is more broadly referred to as part of the WDO, or Winery Definition Ordinance.

As best practice, call ahead or use online reservation services such as VinoVisit or CellarPass to book your tasting appointment so you get to visit all the wineries on your wish list. The benefit of just a little advance planning will not only eliminate surprises but likely will offer different tasting experiences! Here at Baldacci we have our great patio and bar for tastings but also schedule private tastings and tours in our Cellar for those that inquire ahead of time.

PRO-TIP: Throughout the Valley you can discover more experiences beyond just tasting such as cave tours like Jarvis, food pairings like B Cellars, cooking demonstrations and more…it usually requires nothing more than asking for it ahead of time!


2. Corkage

The Napa Valley is home to some of the most desired restaurant experiences and celebrated chefs, so hopefully planning for a great meal or two while you’re visiting is on your agenda. Since wine runs through the veins of the Valley it shouldn’t be too surprising that nearly every restaurant offers a great selection of vino, from the hamburger joint down the street to our three-star Michelin rated restaurants.   

What may be surprising is that brining an unopened bottle or two to the restaurant, even bottles you discovered that day, is perfectly acceptable. Each restaurant has their own policy on corkage so best to call ahead of time or check out their website to review. Corkage fees average $20 per bottle but are sometimes waived if you buy a bottle off their list. Attentive staff will see the bottle on the table and usually offer to decant for you. Some common corkage policies are to restrict the number of bottles you may bring in or that you may not bring in a wine they already offer. It’s a great way to ensure you have a bottle at your table you know that you enjoy at a fair price.

PRO-TIP: If you bring in a rockstar bottle, do be sure to leave a pour behind for the service staff especially if they did a great job…and sometimes they’ll waive the corkage fee to show their appreciation.


3. Appellation Education

With regard to grape growing and wine production, the Napa Valley is an American Viticultural Area (or AVA for short).

These geographic distinctions are approved by the federal government and are meant to recognize areas that share nearly identical grape growing conditions. With the immense soil diversity the Napa Valley enjoys along with changes in microclimate and elevation we currently have sixteen recognized AVA’s within the Napa Valley AVA itself totaling seventeen different named grape growing regions.

PRO-TIP: Schedule an entire day tasting within one AVA. You’ll develop a deeper appreciation and understanding to what makes that area unique and you’ll save on driving time between wineries. 


4. Get a Driver

Responsible drinking means not driving drunk. A common misconception is that police in Napa Valley are somehow lenient towards or permit impaired driving…nothing could be further from the truth.

A full day of tasting numerous wines and numerous wineries can and will take its toll. There are a wide variety of driving services available, from professional chauffeurs to group tours to individuals hired to drive your vehicle for you. Beyond the immediate benefit of not driving impaired you additionally have a local expert who knows the roads, can help set your agenda, and can recommend new wineries.

PRO-TIP: Always be responsible. 


5. Try Something New

Pretty self-explanatory. If you’re a regular to the Valley it’s easy to get caught up in the favorites and not venture out to experience new tasting rooms, restaurants, art exhibits, hiking trails or hot air balloon rides. Lean on the experience and recommendations of people out here and past visitors…word of mouth is still the number one driver of new guests.

PRO-TIP: Phone a friend. 




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6236 Silverado Trail, Napa, CA 94558
Open daily from 10AM to 4PM
by prior appointment



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There are so many great hiking trails in the Napa Valley. All you need are some good walking shoes and a bottle...

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