We have been fortunate enough to visit Napa together every year since 2015 and have truly fallen in love with the area. The weather, the scenery, the easy-going California attitude, the camaraderie and sense of community among all of the vineyards / wineries, restaurants and other local businesses… it’s just such an incredibly charming place to be and we never take our time visiting the region for granted.
We were nervous that we wouldn’t be able to make our annual “pilgrimage” to Wine Country this year with everything going on in the world related to COVID-19. Just like everyone else, we have cancelled so many of our 2020 plans and we had no idea what to expect when the entire country shut down in March… but as the West Coast has cautiously moved into Phase 2 of reopening, the majority of businesses have been able to pivot their practices to include extra sanitization, social distancing, and modified services — the Napa region included.
We did a bit of research ahead of time and made note that all of the locations we wanted to visit had strict safety processes. Reservations for meals and tastings are REQUIRED, maintaining a safe distance from others is encouraged whenever possible, masks are required when you aren’t eating or drinking, all sit-down dining and tastings happen al fresco (with most dining options only offering takeaway), tastings are limited by both number of guests and tasting offering times, menus are either made of recyclable paper for one-time use or available via QR code, hand sanitizer stations are EVERYWHERE, stickers are on the ground to help prompt you on where to stand appropriately distanced apart from other guests, rigorous cleaning happens at each tasting station or table between seatings, etc.
*Please plan ahead and research to make sure that anywhere you are visiting is making the maximum effort to keep you, other patrons, and their employees safe at all times.*
Regarding our air travel, we flew on a smaller aircraft (a QX E175) in and out of possibly one of the tiniest (and most charming!) airports in the United States so we were able to minimize any potential exposure with at least one of our airports.
We are loyal Alaska Airlines customers and we have been so impressed with how diligently they have been working to make adjustments to their policies to make flying as safe as possible for their passengers. We could detect the scent of cleaner when we boarded the aircraft so we knew that the cabin had recently been cleaned, masks were required on our flight when not eating / drinking, any food or drink options were in sealed containers, and seats were spaced out as much as possible (given the small plane).
I definitely felt comfortable and trusted that the airline employees had done their job by sanitizing the space, but I have always been especially neurotic about germs on airplanes so I still sanitized our seats, tray tables, armrests, etc. on the flight (you’re familiar with the Instagram account @passengershaming, right? 🥴), we tried to minimize what we touched while onboard the aircraft, and since the flight is so short we didn’t need to use the airplane lavatories.
I also wanted to share this article that highlights how airlines are now cleaning their planes because it certainly made me feel more at-ease.
Napa can be a bit overwhelming as a first-time visitor as there are over 400+ possible wineries to visit, so my updated Napa Guide has got you covered (at the very least, my recommendations will serve as a jumping off point and my tips are applicable for everyone!). I can’t recommend visiting the Napa region enough if you’re looking for a little getaway, especially during this time. The Napa area is still recovering from the crazy wildfires they had in 2018 and the effects on tourism from coronavirus have certainly impacted the area. I have to commend every place we went on our visit because they had all gone above and beyond to make a safe and accommodating environment for their patrons.
*We were lucky enough to visit the Napa region just before the 2020 fires started. It has been an extremely hot and dry year which is actually great for the grapes (and ultimately the wine!), but that also means there is a higher opportunity for fires to pop up. Our hearts are with the people of California as they work to put out the fires! ❤️ Be safe!
In addition to my usual packing list , my travel must-haves were TSA-friendly hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, and face mask(s) with disposable filters. If you happen to forget any sanitation items, the Hudson News kiosks at the airport have products for purchase.
Being able to safely travel to and spend time in Napa Valley this summer gave us a hint of normalcy and was the little getaway that we have so desperately needed this year. I hope that wherever you are, you are able to have a mini summer vacation (or staycation!); those little reprieves from this insane year will help us all mentally and emotionally reset and prepare to get through a [potential] second wave of coronavirus cases this fall.