Set in California’s Napa Valley, the Silverado Trail is a historic country road that runs parallel to Highway 29. Between Napa in the south and Calistoga in the north, travelers will find roughly 40 vineyards dotting this 30-mile (48-kilometer) trek, with wineries famous for their big-bodied red wines and cabernet sauvignons.
The Silverado Trail is a highlight of Napa and Sonoma Wine Country, with prestigious wineries such as Joseph Phelps, ZD Wines, Stag’s Leap, and the Miner Family. Many guided tours of the Silverado Trail include round-trip transportation from San Francisco, allowing you to enjoy multiple tastings without the necessity of driving. Bicycle tours are also available for travelers looking for exercise, fresh air, and views of Napa Valley’s rolling hills. Some tours include a ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train, while private tours allow you to choose your own itinerary.
Things to Know Before You Go
- There are a multitude of dining options along the trail, from snack stops to gourmet restaurants. Shopping, lodging, and a variety of other services are also available.
- Pick up a map in Napa, as many fine wineries lie just off the Silverado Trail and are worth a visit.
- Wheelchair and stroller access varies between wineries.
How to Get There
The Silverado Trail runs along the eastern edge of Napa Valley and passes through Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena, and ends in Calistoga. The winding country road can be a challenging drive, especially for out of town visitors, so a guided tour is the best bet for travelers who want to enjoy multiple tastings.
When to Get There
Hours for winery tours and tastings vary by winery; most boutique, small-production wineries are by appointment only, so it’s best to call ahead. Fall is harvest time and the entire Napa region runs special events during this busy time, with crowds and lines to match, so planning ahead is key. Grape picking starts in August and runs through late September; visiting right after the “crush” (harvest) is over is a great option.
Harvest Time in Napa Valley
Napa Valley starts the “crush” period by picking grapes for sparkling and white wines in August, while red wine grapes are picked and processed in September and later into the fall. By mid-October, the pace has slowed down a bit and the valley smells like fermenting wine.