As a style coach I help many clients pack a versatile wardrobe that will help them vacation in style. Recently I’ve had many clients inquire about the type of clothing needed to be comfortable and stylish while on a wine tour. I’ve enlisted the help of travel advisor extraordinaire and owner of Want to Go Travel, Melissa McKinley, to weigh in on what to wear when you are headed to wine country.
1. Do I need to dress up for wine tours and tastings?
There’s no need to wear anything fancy while touring Napa Valley.
Generally, most people dress in comfortable clothing, or casual resort or business wear. If you are walking a lot during your wine tour, you definitely want to be in comfortable shoes and attire.
Also, I suggest wearing a dark-color top or sundress, just in case a rogue red wine drop splashes on you. Walking around with a big wine stain on your outfit can be a little embarrassing—and all that worrying distracts you from the wine tasting!
2. What should I wear to dinners in Napa? Is Sonoma more or less formal (or about the same)?
This will definitely depend on the restaurant, but typically, people dress casual unless they are celebrating a special occasion or attending a corporate event. I believe there are only three properties in Napa Valley that enforce a dress code. These restaurants include French Laundry, La Toque, and Etoile, which all ask that men wear jackets and long pants. Other fine dining establishments that enforce a dress code include Terra, Auberge, and the Wine Train.
Sonoma is similar in terms of formality: typically casual with some dining establishments that do enforce dress codes.
My advice for travelers to Napa and Sonoma is to bring a small variety of dresses, pants, and blouses that can be mixed and matched, or dressed up or down. This way, you’re prepared for fine restaurant ambiences.
3. Are jeans ok?
Yes, but depending on your personal style, you might prefer to dress up a bit more during dinner time—especially if you’ll be dining at a higher end restaurant.
4. What kind of shoes should I pack to allow for stylish but practical touring?
Great question. I always like to err on the side of caution and spring for my comfiest shoes. But my advice is to wear shoes that fit with your personal style, make you feel great, and are comfortable for walking throughout the day. I would discourage wearing pumps or any shoe with a high heel, as well as any shoes that you haven’t broken in yet for the possibility of blisters.
Meet Melissa, the “Want To Go Travel” expert
Although I began my career in the travel profession in 1992, I have been traveling since a very young age. One vivid memory I have is being around 9 years old, flying alone with no supervision with not only a change in concourse in O’Hare but a change in airlines. I did it and loved it! Since then a few of the treasured experiences I have are learning how to make Limóncello from an Italian family, seeing how Chinese families really live in a remote “last of its kind” fishing village, shopping for custom wears in Milan, and sampling the most to die for chocolates in Europe. Exploring all the new places and meeting interesting people is very energizing.
Like many people in the workforce today, I found myself not taking my earned vacation breaks, becoming overworked, frustrated, exhausted and not really living life. I knew something had to change! As that cliché goes “Life is not a rehearsal“.
So I quit my nice, secure, corporate job making a good living and took some time to see what energized me. I found out that I missed planning exciting trips, making new friends, exploring new places, trying new activities and more importantly share this incredible experience with others. During my year break, I traveled to France, Italy, Hong Kong, Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands with the idea to start Want To Go Travel, an upscale travel firm, specializing in luxury travel with focus on wine, gardens and well-being themes. I wanted to offer exceptional travel, rich in value…every trip with groups of like-minded people knowing your best souvenirs are memories.
Since then I have worked with many clients, created several group and personal upscale travel experiences in just the first few months of opening the business. All of my clients have not only saved time, their vacations were enriched, their stress reduced because things were handled, and they enjoyed meeting new friends with similar interests.