Forget that artificial “first day of spring” that shows up on your calendar in March. In Wine Country, the season starts in February – and by my definition, it lasts through May.
Weather can be variable this time of year. In a wet year, you might get rained on. Don’t let that worry you, though: most tasting experiences are indoors.
In the spring, new shoots break out of the dormant vines. They can grow as fast as 1.5 inches in a single day. If you get close to the vines, you’ll also see tiny clusters of grapes starting to form. The date when they first appear is called “bud break, ” and it gives the first hint of when the grapes will be ready to harvest.
Mustard plants growing between the grapevines starts blooming in spring. In a good year, it’s a spectacular sight, with yellow carpets of blossoms everywhere. In other years, it’s more like a dusting of yellow.
Napa Valley Weather in Spring
On the average, daytime high temperatures will be in the 60s and 70s °F and lows from the mid-40s to mid-50s.
February is Napa’s wettest month. Chances of rain taper off as the year goes on, but March is still on the higher side of precipitation – on average.
None of that is any excuse not to check the short-range forecast before you go. You never know when an unseasonable hot spell, cold snap or rainstorm might happen.
Pros and Cons of Going to Napa in Spring
If you time your visit to Napa right – think February – you’ll find Napa in bloom. It’s not the grapevines putting on the show that time of year, but the yellow-flowering mustard planted between them.
A few wineries also have lovely lavender gardens, among them Harms Vineyard in Napa and Ceago, which is north of Napa in Clear Lake.
Napa can be a little crowded on weekends and holidays in the spring, especially for Valentine’s Day and Easter.
If you can visit on a weekday, Napa is decidedly quiet, with tasting room staff relaxed and ready to give you lots of attention.
Food-wise February is St. Helena Restaurant Month, with special deals at many of the town’s best-known and best-rated restaurants like Meadowood, Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen and the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America.
Special Napa Valley Events in Spring
Sadly, the Napa Valley Mustard Festival, a popular spring event for many years, fell victim to hard economic times and it hasn’t come back. But that doesn’t keep the yellow mustard blooms from showing up to brighten the bare grapevines.
Food festival Flavor! Napa Valley kicks off in March, with an all-star lineup of chefs and winemakers. Events such as chef demonstrations, a golf tournament, and several wine experiences, all centering around the distinct flavor of Napa.
The Napa Valley Marathon happens in March, something you need to know about even if you aren’t going to run 26 miles because it affects traffic on Silverado Trail all the way from the town of Napa to Calistoga.
The BottleRock music festival has become so popular that all the hotels anywhere near the Napa Valley get filled up as soon as the tickets go on sale. The same is true for any house rentals you may have had your heart set on. BottleRock happens in late May and sometimes lands on Memorial Day Weekend. Check this year’s date at their website.
More Seasons in Napa
While spring is one of the best seasons to go to Napa, you might also want to visit Napa in Fall f or the grape harvest —and the fall color in the vineyards. If you go to Napa in Winter, you find it quiet and you can get lots of personalized attention in the tasting rooms. Napa in Summer is the busiest time of the year (and the hottest).