Life in Napa Valley is quiet. Except in late May.
For most of the year, Northern California’s Napa Valley wine country is idyllic and serene. Visitors come to explore the beauty of the rolling vineyards, tour some of its 400+ wineries by car or the Wine Train, and stroll the streets of its six charming towns. But for a few days in late May, things go a bit … wild. That’s when well over a hundred thousand people descend on Napa for two vastly different events: BottleRock and Auction Napa Valley.
The seventh annual BottleRock, a three-day music, wine, food and craft brew festival, takes over the Napa Valley Expo May 24-26. Over 80 bands in a range of genres will perform on six stages, headlined by Neil Young & Promise of the Real, Santana, Mumford & Sons, Imagine Dragons, Pharrell Williams and Logic. The BottleRock Culinary Stage will showcase one-of-a-kind live culinary and celebrity mashups. Other attractions will include gourmet food from the Valley’s finest chefs and restaurateurs, wine tastings and vintner meetups in dozens of wine cabanas, craft beers, and specialty cocktails.
“It’s a snapshot of the Napa Valley lifestyle we enjoy on a daily basis,” Compass agent Hillary Ryan, a luxury and vineyard property specialist, said. “Experiences like BottleRock give people one more reason to love the Wine Country and attract new buyers who wish to relocate or find a second home here.”
Just three days after BottleRock unplugs, it’s time for something completely different. From May 29 to June 1, an exclusive group of some 2,000 wine connoisseurs and celebrities will make their arrivals for the Super Bowl of wine charity events, Auction Napa Valley. ANV has donated more than $185 million toward community health and children’s education in Napa County since 1981. Tickets to the live auction on Saturday, headlined by pop goddess Katy Perry and star chef Ayesha Curry, are $2,000 to $10,000 per person. Other highlights include an array of private vintner-hosted parties; the world’s only single-case auction of 100 or more lots, including straight-from-the-barrel tastings with the winemakers; and an online auction open to bidders worldwide.
Live the dream
The rest of the year, life in Napa County returns to the pleasant, tranquil pace that makes it an ideal setting for a second home. While legendary wines, incredible restaurants, and relaxing spas make it one of the top travel destinations in the world, this is also a great place to live. The near-perfect climate is ideal for indoor/outdoor living, surrounded by breathtaking views of rolling hills, vineyards, majestic oaks and stunning sunsets.
A deep sense of community is another part of the valley’s appeal. It’s warm, welcoming and inclusive, and getting involved can be one of the most rewarding aspects of living here.
The local communities’ historic downtowns are made for browsing locally owned shops and savoring long, relaxing lunches. Bicycling along the Silverado Trail, hiking, horseback riding and hot air ballooning are popular. Golf courses in and around the valley are surrounded by vineyards and forested nature preserves.
Cultural attractions include the Napa Valley Opera House and Uptown Theatre Napa, Yountville’s Lincoln Theater and Napa Valley Museum, and St. Helena’s Cameo Cinema. Local festivals, farmers’ markets, Shakespeare performances and live music fill out the calendar, while easy access to snow, the ocean and three airports puts your faraway escape close to everything.
Each Napa County community has its own flavor. St. Helena is known for its grand vineyard estates, set behind gated drives and rows of olive trees. Rutherford’s homes, tucked away among the vineyards, enjoy panoramic views of the valley. Napa is filled with charming cottages, bungalows and Victorians. Yountville is home to boutiques, art galleries, antique stores, great restaurants, and geothermal spas. Calistoga’s timeless small-town charm centers on a main street with an eclectic mix of shops, tasting rooms, restaurants. It’s also home to luxurious spas, such as Solage.
While Napa Valley’s dreamlike appeal makes it one of the most desirable second home locations in the country, living here doesn’t have to be out of reach. There’s a wide range of home values in this beautiful place – and of course, prices are more affordable if you’re not looking to own a vineyard. Neighborhoods range from the prestige (and price tags) of St. Helena to the quaint vintage cottages of downtown Napa. Best of all, no matter which part of the valley you choose, you know you’ll never be far from some of the best wineries in the world.