The Napa Valley can be a traffic nightmare on weekends, especially when the weather is fine. As of this date I have been to 87 wineries in the Napa Valley but most of those have either been visited during the week (when the wine country is not so busy) or I take the road less traveled to avoid the crowds.
“Where is that?” you ask.
Up the middle of the Napa Valley is highway 29 which takes you past not only many fabulous wineries and vineyards, but through the downtown areas in the Napa Valley (Yountville, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena, Calistoga) where you will find the restaurants, shops, traffic lights and some homes.
The Silverado Trail, which runs along the base of the east side hills, doesn’t have the restaurants, shops, traffic stops and so forth. Consequently the traffic tends to be lighter and there are 30 miles of fantastic wineries to explore on your wine tasting adventure.
In addition, Highway 29 is a fairly straight shot of the middle of the valley whereas the Silverado Trail has lovely scenic twists and turns which provide you with a nice leisurely drive through the wine country.
If you should decide that you want to eat at one of the restaurants along Highway 29, there are many roads that cut across the valley from east to west that can take you where you want to go. So, you can avoid the traffic and still have a means of getting to the center of the valley to your favorite shops and eateries.
I have visited all the wineries on the Silverado Trail (that are open to the public) and among my favorite are: Luna (great Italian varietals), Hartwell, Shafer, Miner Family Vineyards, William Harrison, Joseph Phelps, Duckhorn, Chateau Boswell and Chateau Montelina.