Winter in Napa Valley

Dec. 20, 2017 | by Jim Beazley

Beazley House front flowers in winter

We measure our four seasons in Napa very differently than yours. Winter lasts mere weeks. Spring several months. Summer a few months, and autumn, a blend of spring and summer lasts three months minimum…sometimes four.

When we try to explain to guests unfamiliar with Napa’s version of winter that our afternoons are warm and sunny and that fruit trees begin blooming at the end of January they frankly don’t believe us!

As I write this in mid-December we are less than a week from the “Winter Solstice,” this year on Thursday, December 21. This is when the earth is tilted the furthest from the Sun in our hemisphere, and our temperatures drop as our daylight hours shorten. Temperatures, almost everywhere, won’t start picking up until about when the Earth starts tilting toward the sun again at the spring equinox.

But not in Napa…and especially not THIS year.

Beazley House - Valley Vineyard in Fall

Our rains came after the Wildfires of October in November, which is typical for us. They soaked the thirsty ground just enough to begin “the great spouting” which turns this year’s blackened and our normally “golden” hills bright green!

In two weeks we look much more like Ireland than California, some years we even have “Irish rains.”

But not this winter – after the storms of early November, we’ve been basking in the Golden California sun.

Beazley House - Valley vineyard in winter

I say “golden sunlight” because with the tilting of the earth the normally silvery disk shines from a much lower angle through clouds, fog and a lazy haze. Instead of the harsh light of other seasons all is bathed in the glow of romantic renaissance masters’ paintings.

Instead of the “magic minutes” just before dawn and dusk known by artists old and new, there’s whole hours. The days may be shorter but they’re bathed in a glow normally reserved for Venice or perhaps Heaven.

Instead of frigid, dark days of sleet and snow endured by the masses in our Midwest and Eastern Seaboard, Napa’s days are bright. Our evenings and mornings would be recognized by our less fortunate brethren, but THEY would be happy if our lows were their HIGHS.

While our temperatures aren’t tropical, they allow one to wear the bright hues of beloved scarves and cozy coats and sweaters. A Napa Winter is a fashion lover’s feast.

“Winter can be one of the most beautiful seasons in the valley, with rows of brilliant yellow mustard giving inspiration to a season-long celebration known as Cabernet Season.”  –

Beazley House Guests around the fireplace at Christmas

Westerners know they can bring their smart looks normally tucked away for that dash to the car before the parties of December, and actually wear them to dinner!

And, oh the dinners by the fires in Napa’s best restaurants now available as never before. December remains the local’s secret – click HERE for the plethora of things to do in Napa during winter. Come see for yourself. Don’t just take my word for it.

We’ll keep a place for you by the fire.