Why You Should Plan a Trip to California Wine Country Now!

There are so many reasons why you’d want to plan a trip to California Wine Country. On top of the world-class wine, you’ll find a breathtakingly beautiful destination. some of the best restaurants for every budget, outdoor activities, a thriving art scene, one of a kind events, and so much more. And all of this is still true even after the fires that affected the region in the Fall of 2017.

While it is true that California as a whole had a horrific fire season in 2017 with two record fires, the largest in history by land in Southern California and the most homes destroyed by a single fire in Santa Rosa, part of wine country. None of these fires destroyed Napa, Sonoma, or any of the nearby towns you’d visit on a trip.

View from patio overlooking golf course at Silverado Resort in Napa.

Instead, the fires have rallied a community and greater region to support those affected. And share their love for the region. The reasons why you planned a trip to California  Wine Country last year and still all true, and there might even be a couple more.

California Wine Country is Still Standing & The Aftermath of the Fires Won’t Effect Tourists

It would be wrong to say that fires did not impact California’s wine country as so many people in the region have lost their homes and many others have lost their employment. What is true to say is that California’s wine country is still fully functional for those who visit it.

Unless you actively choose to see the impact of the fires it is unlikely that you will notice much more than a few charred hillsides. Which any Californian can share is part of our normal climate.

Very few wineries saw any losses and those that did mainly lost structures like barns, not tasting rooms or vines. The area’s restaurants are all still standing. It’s beautiful hotels and so much more.

View down a driveway with vines and shrubs along the side and building with a cooper roof.

But Your Visit Could Help Those in the Region Who Need Help

With that, there has been a large drop in tourists coming to the area due to the misconceptions of the impact of the fires. While all us locals are still planning regular visits, many tourists from around the globe have been canceling their trips.

This is a double hit on those living the area who’ve already been affected. As business decreases, jobs start to go, and those who’ve lost homes lose their income as well.

This is where you can make a difference by planning your trip. Choosing to spend your hard earned money in this area will not only give you an amazing experience and memories that could last a lifetime but you’ll also support folks who need a little extra help right now.

You’ll Still Find Beautiful Landscape & Vistas to Explore

If you’re looking for those beautiful wine country views you’ll still find them on your trip to California Wine Country. Whether you visit the heart of Napa Valley or pop up to Healdsburg in Sonoma County you’ll find the rolling hills filled with vines.

You can still hang out along the Russian River, maybe kayak or float down it if the weather is warm. Or hop on a bike along the different trails between wineries.

Neon sign for Oxbow Public Market in the sunset in Downtown Napa.

If you’re in the mood for a hike, you can explore trails across the counties. A favorite area of mine is right by Lake Berryessa.

The Delicious Wine Is Still There to Taste & the Vines Are Still Growing 

Is it true that the 2017 wines in the region will be affected by the fires? Honestly, it’s to early to tell. Almost all the grapes were picked beforehand, and honestly, a little smoke can serve grapes well.

With that, even if 2017 wines are affected, the wine you’ll find in tasting rooms and restaurants are from prior years. There is actually a lot of talk about 2015, a heavy drought year, being an exceptional year for California Wines. That is what you will find around.

What’s even more interesting is what I’m hearing from those in the industry. They are expecting the impact on the soil from the fires to add new characters and flare to upcoming years. They expect the impact on the “terroir” to be a positive impact in the long run for California wines.

Glass of white wine in the sun glare.

Check out a few of my favorite wineries across Napa and Sonoma Counties for you to explore on your trip to California Wine Country.

Plus, The Restaurants Are All Still Standing

While wine is, of course, a great reason why you should visit wine country. I’d argue that when it comes to California Wine Country the food is at least as much as a reason why to book a trip.

Collage of food photos from Coppola Winery Restaurant

Whether you want to book a meal at the famous French Laundry, try out a cute little spot on the square like Scopa in Healdsburg or Girl on a Fig in Sonoma, or grab a burger to go from Gotts, some of the best of California cuisine is still serving all across California Wine Country.

You Might Even Find a Better Deal this Year

While there is no guarantee of this, right now, the high season in California Wine Country is not going to be nearly as high, and it’s likely that the shoulder season will be less busy than normal. What this means, is you’ll likely be able to find a better deal for your trip to California Wine Country.

Patio area in the rain at Healdsburg at the Best Western Plus.

One of the great things about California is it’s a great destination to visit all year long. This is true for wine country as well. You’ll likely see lower prices on hotel rooms and more discounts around. A great reason why you should book your trip this year instead of waiting around for tourism to bump up again as it inevitably will.

Now, Check Out A Few of My Favorite Destinations To Inspire Your Trip To California Wine Country

When I say California Wine Country, in this case, I’m referencing the areas that fit into Napa and Sonoma Counties. In reality, most of California has wineries and we have countless areas that are worth visiting for that region. But right now, it’s even more important for us to support the heart of wine country.

To get you started on planning your trip to California Wine Country, check out my regional guide with everything you need to know. Plus you can dive a little deeper and learn about a few of my favorite places to explore in the areas


Pool at Coppola Winery in the summer.

While it’s hard to pick, Healdsburg might just be my favorite wine country town. It has easy access to some of the best wine regions including Dry Creek and the Russian River. Its also got a cute downtown square that you can easily spend your days exploring. There is so much good to eat, all within walking distance, that you must try out my favorite food tour food tour. They also tend to have some more affordable, yet still luxurious, places to stay like this one.


There is so much to Sonoma. They also have a cute square worth exploring and tasting rooms just a short walk away. You’ll also be able to head to some unique wineries I love.  On top of that, you’ll find many delicious eateries (I love Fremont Diner), some beautiful places to explore, and so many different nooks and crannies you’ll want to get to know.

Downtown Napa

A sunny day with art work and a palm tree in Downtown Napa.

Do you want to explore the best of wine country without having to drive around? Then Downtown Napa is the place for you. You can stay in a luxurious hotel and then walk to some of the best tasting rooms in the region, delicious spots to eat, and even shop till you drop! It’s quickly become one of my favorite spots for a trip to California Wine County.

Santa Rosa

Now you might love wine, but there is so much more to wine country and one of those things is Beer! Northern California has some of the best craft breweries you can find. And Santa Rosa is home to many of them. Especially the Russian River Brewing Company. Beyond that, Santa Rosa is a great place to stay as you explore more of the area as it’s a short drive to spots like Healdsburg, Sebastopol, and more.

If all of that doesn’t convince you to book your trip to California Wine Country this year I don’t know what will. Take this chance to support a region that needs a little extra help right now. And to get the most out of all the thing that California Wine Country can offer.

About Megan

Megan MacNee is the founder of Traveling Nine to Fiver. From nine to five she works in the non-profit world in California. She focuses on exploring the world from her own backyard to across the globe. You'll find her sharing about explorations through food, books, travel, and more.