Napa. You’ve definitely heard of it.
It’s the land of the super-chic, people who drink red wine in white linen outfits like that’s not even dangerous. Napa can charge you $50 for a 2 0z pour and expect you to say thank you. Napa has an airport, but it only accepts private jets. It has some legendary restaurants but only for those who’ve got deep pockets and some of the world’s most spectacular hotels that only charge a little less than your month’s rent. You’ve heard of it, and maybe you think it’s not for you. Not so fast! Every city has two sides, and Napa is no different.
We’re here to spread the good wine gospel, and share some of insider secrets with you.
6 Ways to Save in Napa (and still have fun)
1. Cut down on hotel costs by couch surfing or using airBNB
Unless you work out a sweet deal, hotels in Napa could either cost you a small fortune or be The Worst Ever – no, really….we have shoddy motels, too! This is one of the biggest roadblocks when planning a getaway trip to Napa. There are two workarounds that are both super simple, though. First, if Napa is not a daytrip destination for you, head over to airbnb.com. You can find really decent accommodations for a fraction of the price of hotels, and your host will more often than not be able to give you some quality tips and suggestions. There are a lot of fantastic people with charming old houses in the downtown area, so you’ll be surprised at what you find and who you meet! Another solution is to go through a winery where you are a member. Miner Family Winery, for example, partners with a few awesome hotels and our wine club members can get discounted rates at swanky places like Hotel Yountville and the Westin.
2. Come on a Tuesday
For whatever reason, Napa as a whole decided that Tuesday is the day that everything is cheaper. This means that Tuesday is the BEST day. Saturday & Sunday might seem more fun, but weekends come with inflated “weekend” pricing. Tuesday in Napa is like an alternate universe where everyone just wants you to drink cheap margaritas and be happy. Go to Compadres downtown, La Condesa in St. Helena, The Red Hen Cantina on HWY 29, or any number of other amazing restaurants for some awesome deals on tacos and tequila. In the evening, head to the Oxbow Public Market for locals’ night deals, like half-price oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co. or $3 beer at C Casa.
3. Embrace the internet
A lot of wineries have deals on different websites. 2-for-1 tastings abound on websites like VinoVisit, and often all you have to do is sign up for their mailing list. Bonus tip: Many wineries will have flyers and brochures for discount tastings elsewhere. Once you’ve finished your tasting, ask your host if they have any brochures or passes to other wineries that they can recommend you to!
4. Eat Smart
Never say no to free continental breakfasts, and always pack a snack. Napa has Trader Joes too, so you can bring your own crackers and cheese! Delicious, buttery bread is cheap and filling and it’s never a bad idea to load up on carbs if you’re going to be drinking all day. Check out Model bakery in downtown Napa or in St. Helena to grab a to-go loaf. There are a ton of great pit-stops for food all over the valley as well! In downtown Napa you can head to Clemente’s at Val’s Liquor on 3rd street. Try the Malfatti with meat sauce, a Clemente’s original, for less than $5 a dozen. Or you can check out Gott’s Roadside or Burgerfi for a solid burger under $10. Further north, try Tra Vigne Pizzeria in St. Helena or Redd Wood in Yountville for some more budget-friendly options.
5. Know your nights
Tuesday might be overall the cheapest, but almost any night has something going on. During the summer, Friday and Saturday nights often have free entertainment. Look for free movies Saturday nights in Veterans Memorial Park in Napa, and free concerts on Fridays. Yountville gets in on the action too with its own music and movie nights. Oxbow shows movies in the parking lot some Thursdays, and Ana’s Cantina does Thursday night karaoke, which may add some entertainment to your beer drinking. On Monday, Fumé Bistro off of Hwy 29 does a $5 burger deal, and bars downtown like Billco’s have a different deal almost every night of the week. And never forget happy hour! Eating dinner before 6pm can save you a ton of money. Check out Two Guys From Napa for a pretty solid list of happy hour offerings.
6. Pick the right wineries
Napa has over 400 different wineries with a huge range in size and production. Look for wine tasting experiences $30 and under, and wineries that will comp your tasting fee with the purchase of wine. You don’t need to be spending $50 and up just for a tasting when there is fabulous wine to be had for half that price. Come to Miner for a $25 dollar flight of 5 or more wines. Grab a Preiser Key (the definitive guide to Napa and Sonoma) from us while you’re here to plan your next stop, or check out the Preiser Key app on your phone.
When all else fails, remember that Napa is a gorgeous place that just happens to make really good wine. Sunsets are free, and hiking only costs you energy, and there’s no charge for the fresh air either. Take a trip, get into nature, and while you’re here learn more about one of the oldest libations on the planet.
Jessica Gerson, Wine Educator
Miner Family Winery