In Sonoma and Napa September and October have traditionally been the busiest months to visit, both in the vineyards and in the tasting rooms, restaurants and hotels. However, a new trend is on the rise in wine country: November is becoming a very popular time to visit too. November is what we usually refer to as a “shoulder” month – the time of transition between what is the busiest time of year and our more relaxed winter season. While this has been true for a while, we have noticed a change. November’s sunny brisk weather has been drawing an increasing number of visitors to wine country this month, as are the smaller crowds and beautiful fall colors. Even though harvest is over, there is plenty to do in wine country. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to come visit us here at Farmhouse Inn, let us help you: here are 4 reasons to visit wine country in November.
1. Smaller Crowds
While November has been an increasingly more popular month to visit Napa and Sonoma, it is still much quieter than September and October. Smaller crowds are great for several reasons, the first being better access to wineries. Wineries become overwhelmed during September and October – not only are they bringing in an entire vintage of fruit, but they have guests chomping at the bit to be a part of the action. By November the fruit has been processed and is in barrels fermenting into wine, and crowds thin out as people start to get themselves ready for the holidays. This is when you want to visit wine country – winemakers will be available to talk to you on a tour, the tasting room staff can spend an extended amount of one-on-one time with you during your tasting and you won’t need to elbow your way through a crowd up to the bar. Even in the slower season we still recommend booking expanded tasting experiences instead of dropping in for a standard tasting – you’ll walk away more knowledgeable and the experience is much more enjoyable.
2. Dungeness Crab
Yes, we’re listing a crustacean as one of our reasons to come to Sonoma in November. Have you had Dungeness Crab during the season? No? Then don’t judge us. This year there has been a delay and Dungeness season has not officially opened on the coasts of Sonoma and Mendocino but soon. Visitors are indeed welcome to hire a boat out of Bodega Bay to go catch Dungeness – the limit is 10 crabs per individual but do you really need more that? Okay, you might but try to follow the rules. If you’re not interested in venturing out on a boat yourself than consider one of the many amazing crab shacks dotting the Pacific Coast Highway – a crab sandwich from one of these guys is a not-to-be-missed experience during November.
3. Sunny but Brisk
The weather in November is a favorite of ours, and this year is proving to be especially spectacular. Chilly mornings, sunny and warm afternoons, and brisk evenings as the sun sets. The skies have remained almost cloudless this entire first week of November and no rain in the forecast (as of now) for another few days. And yes, we will admit that part of the appeal of November’s weather is layers. We love layers! You get to wear a coat and scarf in the morning and then peel away the layers in the afternoon. If you’re planning on visiting wine country soon bring layers! One mistake visitors often make is assuming that it is 70 degrees all the time. While that picture is indeed lovely, it is a far cry from the truth. Morning temperatures are in the 40s and when the sun sets we drop from the pleasant 70s down to the low 60s and high 50s. Layers, people – say it with us.
As strange of a reason as crab? Possibly, but hear us out. This year California has experienced one of the longest summers ever – it felt like it began in February or March and didn’t end until after Halloween. We’ve worn through all of our sandals and our summer wear is looking quite shabby at this point. However, the morning temperatures have finally allowed us to turn on our fireplaces, not just for show, but because we need them! Give us a cup of coffee and a good book with a warm fire any morning. More of an evening person? Not to worry – a glass of wine with a good (or trashy) movie by the fire is just as appealing. And we love the new fire features at Farmhouse – the new fire pits by the pool are beautiful (and don't miss the s’mores makings in Guest Services!). The fireplaces in the new rooms are truly gorgeous, surrounded by natural stone and can be enjoyed from out on your private deck or cozied up in your room.
Our somewhat (yes, we admit this) unconventional list of why to visit wine country in November iust scratches the surface – there are 100 reasons to visit wine country any time of the year. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, are on a wine buying mission, visiting the area for a bike excursion, or just want to go on a restaurant binge, you can always find a reason to visit Napa and Sonoma. For more of our ramblings, tips, and the latest happenings be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Contact your concierge about booking a November visit .
We hope to see you soon.