As you drive through the valley right now, it’s truly is a feast for the eyes. Once you get north of the town of Napa it’s pretty much wall to wall grapevines. And, after harvest they turn gorgeous colors – lots of yellow but also peach and different shades of red. It’s just beautiful.
My favorite route for taking in the view is to start in Calistoga, the northernmost town in the valley and shoot down the Silverado Trail. Since the elevation decreases as you drive south on the trail you have a really great view of the vineyards. I never get tired of it.
Here’s an odd piece of trivia for you: Healthy vines turn yellow and peach. But, when you see those beautiful, deep reds it’s usually a sign of virus. The vines are susceptible to a number of viruses, most of which we don’t know how to treat. Virus decreases yields and make it more difficult to get the grapes to ripen. If you look closely, you can recognize leaf roll virus because of the green leaf veins on otherwise, red leaves. The only blessing besides the beautiful display of fall color is that these viruses can be fairly slow in progression so you can live with it for a few years before you have to finally get out the bulldozer.
The other great thing about visiting this time of year is you’ll have the valley all to yourself! You’ll get into your favorite restaurants and probably get a good deal from the hotels because everybody else has gone home.
So, while visiting wine country at harvest time certainly has its attractions, you might think about shifting the timetable a bit one of these years.
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