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Tips to Enjoy Napa & Sonoma on a Budget

Light filters through broad leaves amongst rows of grape vines.
Napa Valley produces only 4% of California’s wines, but its wineries are world-class. Photo © Konstantin Sutyagin/123rf.

Wine tasting doesn’t have to be expensive. With a bit of planning, you can stretch your Wine Country dollars without skimping. If you’re on a budget, these helpful tips will help you enjoy the Napa and Sonoma region to the fullest.

  • Go where inexpensive or complimentary tasting is the norm. The Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River Valleys are by far the best deal. In Carneros and the Sonoma Valley, the price begins to increase. The Napa Valley is the most expensive.
  • Clip coupons. Vouchers for free or two-for-one tastings are available at most visitors centers or chambers of commerce, and in free local magazines like Wine Country This Week. Many winery websites offer printable vouchers for discounted tastings, as do NapaValley.com and WineCountry.com.
  • Talk to your concierge. Many hotels and inns arrange free or discounted tastings for their guests at local wineries.
  • Buy a bottle. The cost of a tasting can often be deducted from a wine purchase.
  • Go in the off-season. In the winter and spring, hotel rates drop by as much as 50 percent. More wineries offer deals to lure in customers, as do restaurants and other attractions.
  • Go with a local. Many wineries offer free tastings to Napa Valley residents.
  • Forget wine altogether. Take the free tours offered by some wineries, which are often entertaining even without wine. Try The Hess Collection, Trefethen Vineyards, and Clos Pegase.

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