Most people drive in the Napa Valley, as there are so many wineries tucked back on otherwise inaccessible roads. Driving poses a problem for wine tasters (although most wineries have spit buckets that allow designated drivers to taste but not drink), but luckily there are many shuttle and private car options.
Shuttles and group tours tend to pick up passengers from area hotels and ferry them between predetermined wineries. Depending on the time of day and duration of the excursion, the circuit will often include a lunch stop. Shuttles work best for people who don't want to spend much money and who don't mind not controlling their own itineraries. On the NapaValley.com site, shuttles and group tour companies are mixed in with other tour and sightseeing options. Alternately, try a Web search using the terms "Napa wine shuttle."
Private car service is often the best option for people who want to visit specific wineries and who don't mind spending a bit more for the personalized service. And, with a car service, it's the passengers, not the driver, who determine the amount of time spent at each winery. NapaValley.com has private car service listings, and a general Web search using the terms "car service" and "Napa" will yield more options. Groups will find car services most economical, as dividing the price multiple ways will bring down individual costs.
Though it's safer and more convenient to hire out driving responsibility for wine-tasting trips, it can still be useful to have a car, especially to get to the region's non-alcoholic attractions. However, keep in mind that since driving is the primary way to navigate the very popular valley, heavy traffic along the main routes and limited parking in the most popular spots are common problems.
Insider adviceThe Silverado Trail on the east side of the Napa Valley parallels the heavily trafficked Highway 29 on the west, and is a less congested way of driving up or down the valley. Several roads cut across the valley, easily connecting the two routes.