Fall is a magical time of year in Wine Country, which is why everyone who visits San Francisco should make sure to head north to Napa and Sonoma valleys.
Just when summer vacations come to an end and tourist season begins to slow, fall crush takes over Wine Country, adding an exciting burst of color and vibrancy to the region. You probably won’t witness women in long skirts stomping grapes, but you’ll likely see workers in vineyards handpicking fruit and bins of grapes waiting to be crushed by machines that can even remove the stems.
“Fall is not only an incredibly stunning time of year to plan a Wine Country trip, but it is potentially the best time of year for visitors to catch an in-person glance at the winemaking side of things,” says Marissa Napierski, who works in hospitality and sales for Hagafen Cellars in Napa. “It’s one thing to hear stories and explanations, but it’s even more engaging to be able to see the winemaking teams in action.”
At Homewood Winery in Sonoma, our guests got to see David Homewood stirring Pinot Noir grapes picked from the property that morning. He made the punch-down instrument himself. After the grapes were punched down by Dave, he lets the juice sit with the skins until it morphs into the exact right color and flavors before being put into barrels. Then from barrels to bottles!
When our small-group tour recently visited Peter Cellars in Sonoma, harvest was also in full swing. Newly picked grapes were being moved from bins to cylinders for crushing. Peter Cellars relies on Old World winemaking techniques, which Peter learned in France before settling in Sonoma Valley.
At Hagafen, the extra work that always accompanies harvest brings out the best in everyone who works at the boutique winery from top to bottom.
“If there is one thing we pride ourselves on at Hagafen, it’s teamwork,” says Marissa. “From the vineyard and cellar team to the front of house staff, we all seem to be in a happier state of mind. It must be something in the air.”
To learn more about the fall crush in Wine Country, book a tour today. Green Dream Tours is a TripAdvisor Hall of Fame member and has helped more than 40,000 guests experience Napa and Sonoma valleys over the past 10 years.