My Fall Packing List For A Wine Country Getaway
We’ll be hitting the road soon for a week in Sonoma and Napa, and I’ve really been looking forward to this getaway! We decided to drive rather than fly so that a) we can follow our own timetable and b) we can bring wine and other gifts home without having to pack and ship.
Because we’re driving, I have more flexibility with regard to what and how much to pack. But I still don’t want to go overboard. As of today, the forecast is calling for warm-to-hot days and chilly evenings, so lightweight layers are key. Our activities will mostly be winery tours/tastings, and general sightseeing during the day, and dinners out in the evenings. Casual to “polished casual” will take us just about anywhere in this region.
So here’s my fall packing list, from shoes to toppers…
Even for a road trip, it’s become habit to start my travel wardrobe planning around the shoes.
- Two pairs of sneakers: one casual (similar) for hikes and traipsing around vineyards,
- and my favorite slip-on style for “smart casual” wear.
- One pair of ankle boots, for cooler evenings.
- One pair of mules, also for evening.
Tops & Bottoms
I’m keeping it simple, and (mostly) sticking to a color palette of ivory, brown/rust and denim.
Starting on the left:
- I’m bringing two sleeveless shells for evening that will layer easily underneath my jackets/cardigan. One is a little longer (similar), the other is shorter and buttons in the front.
- Then, my leopard linen tee (similar).
- And an easy cotton long-sleeved top in a gorgeous copper color.
In the middle:
- Last fall when we visited Napa I didn’t bring any warm sweaters, and really wished I had as mornings can be quite chilly. This one is from Everlane (gifted). Here’s a similar style.
- One solid long-sleeved tee (Misses / Plus),
- and one striped.
On the right:
- A lightweight cashmere/silk scarf (gifted) that can worn as either over the shoulders as a wrap or as a neck scarf.
Bottom row: two pairs of jeans,
- one a lighter-wash boyfriend style,
- and one a dark-wash slim-leg style.
- And because I still haven’t found a workable Little Black Pants alternative, I’m bringing my trusty Eileen Fisher stretch crepe pants as a fallback. (I did try some of the other colors, but they just didn’t do it for me.)
Jackets & A Cardigan
Clockwise, from top left:
- a lightweight down jacket that’s plenty warm if I need it.
- My linen duster cardigan (similar style) that I can wear out to dinner in case the heat lingers into the evening.
- A crushed velvet soft jacket (gifted) in a sumptuous chocolate color can zhush up my separates.
- And finally, a faux-suede moto-style jacket that goes with everything.
As of this writing, there isn’t any rain in the forecast for the days we’ll be visiting, but I may still bring this lightweight rain jacket.
I’m still finalizing my bag and jewelry choices. As with every travel wardrobe, I may make some last-minute substitutions if the weather forecast changes drastically. And I may add a “wild card” piece at the last minute, depending on my mood.
I’ll be posting on Instagram while we’re traveling, so be sure to follow for the latest. And just for my email subscribers, at the conclusion of our trip I’ll have a special newsletter recap and travel guide, with my recommendations for lodging, meals and activities! You can subscribe using the form below. 👇
Have a wonderful time in wine country! A day there seems like several in the city!
We lived and worked in Sonoma County for 15 years, and treasured every day.
I like your selections to pack very much, but will try to check instagram to see how you put them together. I’m in Florida now with hot weather still day and night, so I’m having trouble putting together outfits with summer clothes yet wishing for fall colors that are not really in my summer closet. Maybe some of what you do will help!
I’m currently in Kentucky, but spent several years in south Alabama and Louisiana, so I totally get your fall wardrobe dilemma! I’d suggest linen and lightweight cotton in darker colors, such as navy, teal, purple, wine, chocolate, cognac, mustard, pumpkin, and nearly any shade of green–even lime green can be toned down for the season. I’m a true blonde (light eyes and skin to go with the hair), so I look horrible in REALLY dark colors, such as black–I only wear black in a print, with a bright scarf/cardigan, or on bottom.
Stores whose buyers actually understand the clientele and location are probably your best bets, rather than mere chain stores–you’ll have a better chance of finding colors for the season in fabrics for your climate.
Love your color choices! Perfect fall travel wardrobe. Car travel does allow one to pack a few more shoes 🙂
Enjoy your trip…looking forward to your blog and pictures.
Attractive and practical choices, EXCEPT for the white jacket for a wine tasting. Or even a coffee tasting. Perhaps you are less clumsy than I am.
I’ve traveled with this jacket a few times now, and have been lucky enough not to spill on it.
I think the wardrobe looks fabulous! Even though I’m an “autumn” and my best neutral is brown – as opposed to black – I can’t get away from the practicality of black pants…they always work…effortlessly!!
Lovely! Have a fabulous time exploring, eating and drinking wine. We are planning a trip to Napa and then on to Mendocino over Jan 1st to celebrate my 60th. Jeans are a must and I know I will need similar to your perfect packing list but warmer or wet options. My husband travels to France for work and we have been fortunate to have lived there and travel there often in the past 10 years so I have learned to pack and mix and match outfits. Unfortunately, my closet is full of various jeans that fit my “French” figure that has left the building I am afraid for good! At this certain age I am having a heck of a time finding them that fit nicely. It is a constant and frustrating search. Any tips on where to find great jeans would be greatly appreciated.
I wear NYDJ’s jeans exclusively. Try on 1 size smaller than u normally wear. They may feel a little snug but while the jeans have stretch to them they will get bigger as you wear them. They all run about $115 and there are many styles. Good luck.
I like NYDJ also but I have to say that the best fit I have found are Gloria Vanderbilt Amanda jeans. I find them at Kohl’s. I realize discount stores are not usually mentioned in this blog but these jeans fit well for me. I am 5’8” and about 155 lbs. Most of my weight is around my middle so I like a high waist and comfort. I have worn the same pair over several years and are much cheaper than what is usually mentioned here.
Have a wonderful trip and a happy birthday to Monsieur! I am an Autumn color palette, so your wardrobe choices really resonate with me!
Love your blog and your packing suggestions. Amazing how packing minimally is now the trend, when a few decades ago, traveling by car meant I’d pack almost my whole wardrobe!! Times are a changing.
Great tips and it sounds like the weather will be warming up late week! If you need a stop on the way coming or going we would love to have you for a drink (more good wine). FYI Paso Robles has two lovely hotels now (Hotel Cheval) and the Alegretto which are fun stops. We are in Monterey County and Paso Robles!
Susan, I have to admit that your new clothing selections based on your spring-gamine profile suits you perfectly. You look more vibrant and contemporary than ever. Red Leopard was a game-changer for you!
A good rule of thumb is to always plan for weather that is 10 degrees cooler or warmer than you expect.
So glad you are still having fun with your new pallet, but don’t get rid of your black pants. They are such a staple, I can’t imagine doing without them. As long as you are the right “season” around your face, you should be able to wear them.
Inspiring. The colors are delish! I’m looking forward to seeing how you put them together as well – particularly that linen shirt. I’m also not extremely tall (5’2″ on a good posture day. With an updo!), and find that loose shirts tend to overwhelm me.
Have a wonderful time – a great time of year to travel to a great place!
Susan – two questions:
Those Paul Green sneakers (which I adore!); is the cork simply an external embellishment detail, or is there a layer of cork in the sole? And – do you find the comfort level worth the price? (that’s actually a rhetorical question, I suppose)
Also – love that t-shirt, it’s a classic. I am often torn about pieces like these: while they are staples – and who doesn’t want good fitting base garments with a great hand – spending that kind of money on a t-shirt is a huuuge stretch for my budget: I take it that you have concluded over the years that the value you get in terms of wear, shape-retention, etc. makes it a worthwhile investment? This is in no way a criticism of your choices, just trying to figure things out that would work in my life. Thanks!
Hi Bernice, there’s a layer of cork in the sole. I do find these much more comfortable than most sneakers because of that little bit of lift. I also liked the design details of the slightly tapered toe, cork wedge, serrated sole and the zip opening, which I haven’t seen on any other sneakers.
The leopard tee shirt has been one of my most often-worn pieces during warm weather. It’s definitely earned its keep!
Thank you, Susan!
Berenice-I just wanted to chime in about Paul Green shoes in general. I find them to be the most comfortable, stylish brand for the price. Other shoes at this price point like AGL, Mephisto, or Aquatalia are nowhere near as comfortable for me personally. And I don’t like that Cole Haan makes their logo so big on their sneakers. Now that I know my size, and Paul Green is pretty consistent, I look for sales and sites like eBay, Tradesy, etc. I’ve walked many miles in Paul Green. My second favorite brand is Vince for style and comfort.
Thank you, Nicole! I find the Aquatalia just too pricey – beautiful, but not in my range. I hadn’t thought of Tradesy, etc.. Great idea! And I do love those Vince ones above.
You definitely won’t need the rain jacket unless you are on the coast in the early morning during some fog drizzle. Use the room for more wine!
I am surprised at how much the “spring” colors are just like fall colors.
Thanks Lori. Actually, this is a very small subset of my Spring palette; it’s just what’s available at the moment. I’m hoping to see more of “my” colors in the Spring collections.
It is difficult to shop “out of season” for certain colors. Looking forward to seeing all the options.
Susan, the crush jacket looks cozy and the photos on the website look flattering, but as a fellow 5’2″ person, is it overwhelming for your frame?
I don’t think it is. I’m 5’1″ and the length hits at the top of my thigh. The fabric is really soft and drapey, so it doesn’t feel too voluminous.
Your upcoming trip sounds fabulous! I love your travel wardrobe. I have to agree with Lagatta about the ivory jacket. I know I couldn’t taste wine all day and not be wearing some of it! 🙂 But your color choices are lovely. Your tip about choosing shoes first is the best. I was skeptical at first but it helps tremendously to choose shoes first. I notice you usually pack 4 pair. Is this a number you have settled on as usually best?
Hi Rondi, it really depends on the trip and planned activities. When temperatures aren’t as variable, I find I can often get by with 3 pairs. But I do find that shoes are a great way to add variety and since space isn’t an issue this time…
Thank you, Susan. All your tips are greatly appreciated!
Just returned from NYC, having taken the Chico’s vegan jacket in the same color as yours. Wore it everywhere and found it so comfortable to wear and just warm enough, but not too warm for this changeable time of year. Yes, it goes with everything.
I originally ordered it in a size smaller and hated it, although it fit – snug. Went back and exchanged it for a larger size and loved it. I still don’t understand that. It will be one of my favorite purchases for a long time to come.
Perfect time of year to visit Sonoma/Napa counties, I’m lucky to live here and enjoy every moment! The weather changed recently with colder nights and early mornings, layering is the key to living/visiting comfortably in our climate. As an Autumn palate myself, I dress in “my colors” year around and feel more myself and comfortable with the colors that are me. Over the years I’ve learned how to work with these colors even in the summer by using lighter fabrics and sticking to the lighter colors in my palate. I was thrilled to observe you’re journey away from black, (a color I never use) and incorporate more color, although gamine style isn’t me I’m finding more of your choices resonate with me. I love your tip about choosing shoes first, I pack a little too minimally, I usually need more than I pack, maybe it’s intentional so I can buy something new! Enjoy the transformational process and have a joyful trip.
We just spent our anniversary in Napa Valley a week ago. Your planned wardrobe looks perfect! While on this trip we discovered 2 restaurants we hadn’t known about. We had an amazing brunch at Archetype. I had the ricotta pancakes (half order). Divine. Comes with fresh berries. We ordered a side of bacon which we rarely ever eat but it was the best we ever had!! Their food is locally sourced and mostly organic. We got a table on the patio which is enclosed and like eating in a garden greenhouse. After a spa day in Calistoga we ate dinner at Sam’s Social Club. That was also perfection. I ordered octopus salad and the oven baked Brussel Sprouts. Wow. Finally my one great tip is that every year we buy our olive oil there from a small family producer. We buy the half gallon extra virgin olive oil by g guidi located in a rustic metal building on a backstreet in St Helena. $30 for a half gallon. I’m not sure they take credit cards. I bring cash. The best!!! And fun to go in there. Since you are driving you don’t have to worry about taking it home by plane. It’s best if you have a small cooler or box to prop it up in. 835 Charter Oaks Avenue. St Helena. The shops on the main drag are lovely and I usually find something fun for my wardrobe. Have a great trip.
I love the colours! In fact, I’d be happy to open my suitcase and see exactly what you’ve shown us here!
Thank you for sharing your travel packing list. The colors are gorgeous. Have a wonderful trip.
Great items for your suitcases, and have a wonderful adventure. I love touring the wineries, it’s been awhile since I’ve been there, but I know you will have lots of great pictures to post. I’m heading to NC the end of the month and I need to pack for 10 days, and I’m stealing your ideas, Thanks for helping me pack! LOL. Enjoy! Cheers!
How do you find the ” Xirena” brand……is the quality good & is it cut perhaps on the larger side?
Love your new warmer coppery colours- really look very attractive.
Thanks Helen. I’ve only had the top for a couple of weeks, but the quality does seem good. It’s a very soft, lightweight cotton and generously cut. It will wrinkle, but that’s the nature of it. 😉