Sundress or skinny jeans? Heels or flip flops? Polo or t-shirt? If you’re going wine tasting, you might be a little unsure about what to do when it comes to dressing the part in Wine Country — especially when terms like “Wine Country Casual” and “Napa Valley Chic” come into play. While there are seldom formal dress codes in Wine Country, we have some tried and true tips that will ensure you’re prepared well before you start packing.
Some vineyards have parking lots, manicured walkways, and seated indoor tastings. If this is your style, then heels (or better yet, wedges) aren’t a bad choice. For the most part though, the majority of wineries have stand-up counters or grassy picnic areas for tastings. Wearing comfortable shoes that can handle soft grass and grape stains are key in this case, as are closed toed shoes for those wineries that let you venture into the vineyards. If you’re on the fence, just slip a pair of flats into your purse as a back-up. There’s nothing worse than sore feet when you’re trying to enjoy yourself, so alternative options are always a good idea.
For the ladies out there who are worried about being over or underdressed, strike a balance! A blouse and blue jeans with wedges can look modern and effortless. A dress with a jean jacket and cowboy boots can look country chic. Use your style to express yourself, knowing that you’ll likely be indoors and out and in a variety of settings during a day of wine tasting. If you’re still a little unsure, try bringing a different pair or shoes, a scarf, or fancier earrings along with you. That way, you can dress up or down depending on how you feel once you reach your destination. Of course, if you plan to follow your wine tasting experience by going straight to a fancy Michelin-starred restaurant, you’ll want to wear something that can be dressed up.
Golf attire and button down shirts are always safe options for men. Stylish, dark wash jeans are acceptable too, but making a little more effort will ensure that you’ll fit in wherever you go. As mentioned in Tip 1, closed toed shoes are always a better choice versus flip flops, but if all the wineries you plan to go to are super casual, kid- and dog-friendly places, then casual shoes are a fine choice. Just be sure to nix the cologne (we’ll elaborate on the latter).
Since most vineyards have outdoor patios so guests can enjoy the beautiful views, making sure you’re dressed for the outdoors is the key to your comfort. The region and time of year you’re visiting will impact your style, but it’s safe to plan for sunshine and warm weather in case there aren’t umbrellas. It’s smart to pack a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen, and wear clothes made of comfortable, breathable materials. That said, daily temperatures can fluctuate significantly in Wine Country, so definitely bring layers, such as a sweater, jacket, and/or a scarf. Even if you are planning to stay indoors, some tastings or tours take place in cooler spaces like barrel rooms and caves, which are notoriously cold (around 55 degrees) to ensure the quality of the wine. Simply put, layers are essential when wine tasting.
Smell, taste, sight. All of these senses go into a well-rounded wine tasting experience. This means you should factor in what you put on your body. Perfumes, colognes, and scented body lotion can interfere with the subtleties that make wine so divine. There’s nothing worse than trying to take in a wine’s delicate aromas only for it to be masked by the smell of a fellow taster’s strong cologne. If lipstick is part of your signature look, maybe go easy on it while wine tasting, to avoid leaving lipstick marks all over the glasses which are hard to remove.
Unless you’re only sipping white wine all day, spills are something you need to factor in. Wearing darker colors can help camouflage any mishaps. Even if you’re extra careful, the person next to you may overindulge and spill a glass, or the wine bottle may drip after the server pours a taste into your glass. These things happen, so plan accordingly.
There’s nothing wrong with rocking your own style, but showing up in a sundress, heels, and a hat when your friends are all in jeans and sweaters might make you feel a little out of place, and vice versa. If ever you have any doubt, consulting with your group is always a good idea to make sure you’re on the same page.
There’s no standard definition for this rather vague term, but typically “Wine Country Casual” is somewhere between resort casual and business casual. For women, sundresses, blouses, and skirts all fall into this category, as do white jeans or nicer jeans with wedges. For the men, short-sleeved dress shirts, golf shirts, and khaki pants or nice jeans all work. A long-sleeved button down with dressier shorts and boat shoes are fine, too.
Many people who go wine tasting are on vacation, and the general tendency is to spruce things up a bit when it comes to dressing the part on vacation. After all, you’ll likely be taking lots of photos! “Napa Valley Chic” is simply “Wine Country Casual” on a fashionable vacation. Women will likely want to wear a dress or dress slacks with heels or nice flats, while men can opt for slacks and a jacket or sport coat (without a tie). Think sophisticated and elegant, not urban or flashy, and you’ll be fine.
We hope these tips on what to wear wine tasting will help you confidently find the perfect outfit for any day or night in Wine Country! But before you book that wine tasting trip to Napa Valley or Sonoma County, be sure to check out our WineCountry Hotel Perks for exclusive deals and special offers, including complimentary room upgrades, 2-for-1 wine tastings, spa credits, and more! We think that where you stay should be given as much thought as what you wear in Wine Country, so pack well, sleep well, and have fun. Cheers!