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Napa County winery visits appear to exceed legal use permit allowances


In 2018, 3.85 million people visited Napa County. Each of them visited an average of 3.7 wineries according to survey research conducted by Destination Analysts on behalf of Visit Napa Valley. That makes for an estimated 14.25 million winery visits.


However, Napa County Use Permit data indicates that the number of verifiable permitted visits tops out at 8,587,124 visits including special event permits — substantially below the estimated number of visits.


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Right-click chart/table to view a much larger image.

Number of visits probably higher than the 8.6 million allowed by use permits

The number of legally allowable visits is probably higher because the City of St. Helena’s last-century (paper-based) records system was unable to provide Wine Industry Insight a set of data such as that available from the County.


In addition, a staffer at the City of St. Helena said they did not think that a number of large, older wineries, such as Charles Krug, ever had use permits for things like wine production and visits. And any data would require an in-person, public records request – one winery at a time.

As a result, three of the largest wineries in St. Helena — Charles Krug, Beringer and Sutter Home — are listed as “no data” with the county.


However, even if they were  each allotted a level of permitted visits equal to the number one winery (Sattui), that number would still fall about 4 million visits short of the actual visits calculated by Destination Analysts.


Allowable visits permitted by the cities of Calistoga, Napa, and American Canyon are also not included in the county data.

Data Cautions

Destination Analysts has extensive experience in conducting the types of studies conducted on behalf of Visit Napa Valley, but surveys all have some degree of uncertainty.

Permitted Visitors – Total


Permitted Visitors – Per Day


Permitted Visitors – Marketing Events


Two Bonuses for Wine Executive News premium subscribers:

  • A fully functional Excel file with visit permit data on 521 Napa County wineries (sorted by total visits). You are free to do all kinds of sorts of your own.
  • The Destination Analysts Visit Napa Valley – 2018 Visitor Profile Study 2018 and Final Report of Findings (May 2019)

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