For years I have been telling my favorite Farmhouse Inn and Silver Service guests that the “secret” best time to visit wine country is in mid to late November. Why is this the case? First, the crowds have gone home. The busy  (aka crazy) harvest season is behind us after the Veteran’s Day holiday and that means better deals on lodging and other tourist services. It also means more one on one, intimate experiences at all of the great local wineries. Wine educators and winemakers are freed up to spend more time with you, the guests, when there aren’t truckloads of grapes coming in and busloads of tour groups to boot.

Vineyard views looking north at Christopher Creek Winery in Healdsburg, CA
Vineyard views looking north at Christopher Creek Winery in Healdsburg, CA

Second (and in some circles, most importantly), COLOR COLOR COLOR! The vines are on fire with rich red and orange hues this time of year. The color is better in November than it is in October. Tree-lined driveways leading up to the wineries are imbued with warmly toned, red and yellow and orange leaves falling to the ground as you approach. It’s hard to imagine a better way to spend a mild, late fall day, than sipping on a newly discovered Pinot Noir or Zinfandel, all the while drinking up views of rolling hills sewn with orange and red vines.

And this leads to the third reason that November is the best time to visit – the weather. Hear me out on this. No, it’s not shorts and sandals time (unless perhaps, you’re from Minnesota, in which case, it seems all of these rules are out the window). However, our true rainy season has not yet arrived, and most days the weather is cool, clear and crisp. The perfect time to put on your new skinny jeans and ankle boots and a favorite sweater. In some ways, it is actually a much better climate for wine tasting. Who wants to sip on a big red on a scorching summer day? A mild, late fall afternoon in the low 60s is far superior for that. Yes, there is always a chance that it could rain this time of year, but even if it does, cozying up by the fireplace at Gary Farrell or Fog Crest with a tasty glass of Pinot is a pretty fine way to bide your time.

Fall leaves welcoming guests into Lambert Bridge Winery
Fall leaves welcoming guests into Lambert Bridge Winery

If you are in doubt about when to come to wine country, or how to spend your time while you are here, consult a dedicated travel professional (now you have one – me!) to help navigate the ins and outs.

Now you know my opinion, that late fall is the best time to experience wine country. What about you? What is your favorite time of year to visit wine country and why? 

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