I can see why people love to live in California. I personally adore the climate in San Francisco — it’s basically my ideal temperature and weather year-round (give me ALL of the cool and overcast weather, please!). A short hour and a half drive north to Napa Valley and the weather shifts a bit; it’s much sunnier, drier and just aglow with classic “California desert” warmth. When the sun disappears so does the heat (due to the lack of insulation from the concrete and buildings of a city) and evenings in the Napa region can become quite cool.
My husband and I enjoy visiting Napa every August because my birthday typically aligns with the start of the grape harvest and it’s just a fun time to be in the area. Since we’ve made the visit 4+ times now, I feel like I have mastered my packing list for optimal enjoyment of our summer Wine Country adventures!
(1) sundresses, jumpsuits & rompers: I basically recommend anything breezy that you can stay cool in, especially if you will be participating in outdoor tastings or exploring the grounds of participating wineries/vineyards. I’ve been a big fan of maxi and midi dresses lately… and I try to bring ones that can easily be dressed up for a nice dinner with a quick shoe/accessories change.
(2) swimsuit + coverup/caftan: I personally love Marysia swimsuits; the material quality is amazing, but the pricepoint is NOT. You will get what you pay for and the swimsuit should last for years and years (with proper care), but I fully understand not wanting to splurge on something that you may not get to use frequently. I have found success with swimsuits that I have purchased from Target, J.Crew, and even online via Amazon.com (with established brands like Kate Spade). Lilly Pulitzer makes beautiful caftans, but again, the pricepoint may be a little more than you are willing to spend if you won’t get much use out of it. I found a few adorable coverups on VICI, Target, and Amazon that are much more affordable.
(3) light/medium outer layer: Napa is cool during the early mornings/evenings and some vineyards offer indoor tastings that are air-conditioned (some even have cave tours which are obviously going to be naturally cooler) — a denim jacket, linen blazer (another linen blazer option), light cardigan or a wrap would be perfect for these circumstances. California is HOT (as is expected), but if you tend to get chilly easily I definitely recommend bringing a versatile outer layer. As a general rule, California is a pretty relaxed place, so just imagine that the dress code at 99.9% of the places you go will be “dressy casual” (and even then, you could probably get even more casual at most places; I just personally prefer to be more over-dressed than under-). When planning the outfits for your trip, try to bring ensembles that would work well with the same outer layer… you should only be packing one so choose wisely!
(5) purse with a strap (crossbody): In the interest of packing light, I suggest bringing something versatile and neutral that can be used with all outfits, but also something with a strap that will allow your hands to be available for tastings.
(6) versatile sandals: Low wedges/espadrilles or classic leather sandals would be ideal to keep the number of shoes to a minimum (shoes take up so much space and add lots of weight to bags!). You will want a pair (or two, maximum!) for dinner, tours/tastings, and of course, being poolside. Also be sure that your shoe choice(s) are comfortable enough that you can do a lot of walking around in them! Downtown Napa and the city of Yountville are both super cute and walkable, so while you will probably be in a car going between wineries for tastings, you may want to explore these areas on foot.
(7) sunscreen: I always bring sunscreen with me when we travel (especially when the destination is California!). The sun rays are stronger there than they are in Seattle and my skin simply isn’t used to it (plus, I need to be especially careful due to my fair skin). Supergoop! does the best job protecting me from harmful UV rays so that I can enjoy my wine in the sunshine; I love that they offer so many travel-friendly options! (My fave is this mineral-based one).
(8) MegaBabe Thigh Rescue: this is the newest addition to my daily lineup and I honestly can’t remember life without it. For those of us that suffer from Chub Rub, this product is a god-send. I keep a stick with me in my purse for every day application (just keep it out of the sun so that it doesn’t melt!).
(9) Carpe lotion: I recently talked about my Sweat Journey (so gross, but it’s my reality) and Carpe is the most effective solution that I’ve found to manage my hyperhidrosis. Carpe products are already a TSA-compliant size so I just include a tube in my bag of beauty items. Luckily, Napa is very dry (read: there is minimal humidity), but it still gets HOT so if you suffer from hyperhidrosis like me, don’t forget to pack your Carpe!
If you are trying to decide what to bring to wear based on your planned activities, I have a couple of suggestions:
Hot air balloon rides over the vineyards are magical — we had an amazing time when we went a few years ago, but I really regretted my clothing choice that day. I was unaware that there would not be any doors on the balloon baskets (meaning that you have to climb in/out them) and I had foolishly decided to wear a maxi wrap dress for the event. Such a #rookiemistake — I basically flashed everyone in our basket as I scrambled to get in. (lol — sorry, guys!) Knowing this, I definitely recommend wearing pants in some capacity, even something like a jumpsuit/romper, and shoes that you can wear to safely climb into a basket (maybe leave your wedges at the hotel on this day…). You also have to get started super early in the morning when the Valley is still chilly, so you may want to bring a light layer (a denim jacket or cardigan would be perfect) and don’t forget your sunnies!
Some adventurous Napa visitors opt to ride bicycles between vineyards to do tastings… that’s not really my thing and it doesn’t sound super safe, but to each their own. If this is an activity that you plan to participate in, I highly recommend wearing a pair of sneakers or any closed-toe shoes, as well as some pants (it gets breezy!)
We really love our visits to Napa, so I put a Travel Guide together to help you plan a trip to the Valley.
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments section below!