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Trip Ideas

7 Things to Do in Napa This Fall

Headed to Napa? Harvest season kicks off a series of events—not to mention a healthy dose of romance as the fall foliage reaches its peak. Here’s all that you can get up to in California wine country.

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Photo by Brent Winebrenner

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Photo by Michelle Walker

1

Linger over pinot and bocce

The wine tasting experience takes an unexpected twist this fall when Liana Estates debuts. Set on 100 acres of rolling vineyard-lined hills in Carneros, you enter Liana through a roll-up garage door. Settle into the living room-style tasting lounge with views of steel wine tanks and valley beyond, then take advantage of retro lawn games like corn hole, bocce, and picnics by the vineyard. Or sign up for one of the estate's special events, like an oyster feast at sunset and hillside yoga with a bento box brunch. Call ahead for an appointment.

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Picnic on the lawn at Napa’s oldest winery

You don’t have to be part of Napa’s wine elite to score an invitation to one of the valley’s most epic annual picnics. Kicking off harvest season every year since 1951, Charles Krug winery (Napa’s oldest) hosts the soirée of the season: Tasting on the Lawn. Every September, locavores don their finest Americana-inspired threads, pack a picnic blanket, and sprawl on the manicured lawn beneath the shade of an oak tree to enjoy barbecue fare paired with new-release wines from Charles Krug and live music—all with views of the vineyards and 19th-century Carriage House. JS Tip: try to snag a swill of their cabernet (it's good enough to make Robert Parker swoon).

RELATED: The Most Amazing Outdoor Dining Experiences

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Photos courtesy of Napa Valley Wine Train

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Indulge in a moveable feast

Napa’s historic Wine Train, which has been hustling travelers around the valley since 1864, just launched the Private Reserve Train—a covetable new train car and monthly dinner and wine series. Artfully lined with Honduran mahogany and etched glass partitions, the vintage rail car harkens back to 20th-century railway luxury. The meal itself includes a four-course dinner (think tender porcini-dusted filet of beef) paired with wines curated by a local vintner who discusses the choices throughout the journey. The next one happens Saturday, October 1, with vintner Kathryn Walt Hall of famed Hall Wines.

RELATED: Where to Stay Now in California Wine Country

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Photo courtesy of the Napa Valley Film Festival

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Rub elbows with California’s wine, food, and film elite

For 360 days of the year, vintners and sommeliers are considered the celebrities of Napa, but from November 9 – 13, the silver screen crowd comes to town for the Napa Valley Film Festival. Chat up A-listers at one of the many events throughout the valley, including filmmaker panels, special wine tasting events featuring more than 150 Napa wineries, and artist meet-and-greets. This year’s rising star honorees include 21-year-old actress Zoey Deutch and actor Glen Powell of The Expendables 3. Not to mention after dozens of screenings take place at enchanting wine country venues, there is one helluva wrap party. Bunk down at the newly renovated Carneros Inn for a sophisticated take on vineyard living.

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Destination dining in Napa’s north end

This fall, steer away from Napa’s oversaturated Italian restaurant scene for cuisine of a different variety: Japanese yakitori at St. Helena’s new Two Birds One Stone. Its upscale take on casual Japanese pub food sits well after a day of exploring the local vineyards. Cases in point: their up-play on “chips ‘n’ dip” (crisp pickled plum slices with a ramekin of kewpie mayo) and deviled jidori eggs, best enjoyed in the historic exposed stone and wood dining room.

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Get rowdy at Long Meadow Ranch

Get in touch with Napa’s rustic side at Long Meadow Ranch’s Bluegrass-fed Concert Series, where attendees can kick off their boots and lounge at the St. Helena farmhouse-inspired restaurant and event space while watching the sun set over the vineyards. Performances range from 20-musician-strong big band performances to laid-back folksy tunes—any of which is the perfect accompaniment to warm Indian Summer afternoons and glasses of Long Meadow's full-bodied Mayacamas Estate sangiovese, known for its autumnal notes of anise and clove.

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Break for jazz

Need a reason to catch your breath from your marathon of wine tasting? After making your way down the Silverado Trail, check out Napa’s newest music venue, Blue Note Napa Valley, opening this fall in Napa’s growing downtown. Now in the historic Napa Valley Opera House, the club showcases international and local jazz performers in an intimate setting. Catch musical acts of many genres in the Margrit Mondavi Theater on the second floor—local wine, craft cocktails, and seasonal fare will also be on-hand, so you never have to go hungry (or thirsty).

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