Mar 22, 2021

The Future of Wine Tourism in Napa Valley

Napa Valley wineries are open once again and welcoming guests, following several shelter-in-place orders in California over the last year.

A delightful alfresco experience awaits with heated tent options when the weather doesn’t cooperate, and beautifully reimagined outdoor tasting spaces that overlook rolling hills and vineyards. A safe and enjoyable visit directly supports small businesses and residents. 

The impact of the pandemic

“The impact of the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with two wildfires, on the Napa County tourism industry in 2020 was devastating,” stated Linsey Gallagher, president & CEO of Visit Napa Valley. 

According to Smith Travel Research (STR), Napa County hotel occupancy ended the 2020 calendar year at 41.4% compared to 72.1% for the year prior, its worst performance in history. This resulted in the loss of industry jobs for thousands of residents, reduced economic activity for our local businesses and a significant decline in revenue for the Napa Valley wine tourism industry. 

“We are optimistic that 2021 will show significant improvement for the Napa Valley wine tourism industry,” Gallagher continued. “The combination of pent-up demand for leisure travel and expected wide availability of a coronavirus vaccine by early summer will boost visitation in the second half of 2021, which will contribute to the recovery of wine tourism in Napa Valley.”  

Ready for recovery

The more than 400 wineries and tasting rooms in the Napa Valley are poised for recovery, with winery-specific protocols in place to ensure the health and safety of guests and winery employees while still providing the world-class Napa Valley hospitality experience. Napa Valley is a rural destination with plenty of room to spread out, and many wineries are situated on expansive properties that provide a wealth of scenic private outdoor tasting options. Coupled with the world-class hospitality that guests have come to know and love, visitors to Napa Valley can feel confident enjoying a safe and memorable wine experience. 

The next generation of wine drinkers will find a welcoming and friendly atmosphere as Visit Napa Valley seeks to attract a more youthful visitor with new brand positioning and a refreshed website. Research has shown millennials are among the first who are ready and willing to travel, and Napa Valley wineries are positioned to welcome this new audience to Napa Valley with open arms, masked faces and a laid-back California attitude. 

Future openings

On a further positive note, Napa County will open two new hotels in 2021, the Cambria Hotel in Napa and the Four Seasons in Calistoga, bringing new visitors to experience the iconic wines and lifestyle of Napa Valley. 

Photo by Bob McClenahan, courtesy of Visit Napa Valley.