How Napa Valley has become a popular destination for bachelorette parties

It’s not unusual for road trippers to make an overnight stop at Calistoga Spa Hot Springs to soak up the resort’s array of offerings. But it’s not every day two decked-out cars make a splash upon arrival.

This was a bachelorette party that descended on Calistoga Spa Hot Springs earlier this month from Sacramento, said General Manager Michael Lennon.

The cars were decorated as if it was grad night.

“They actually took markers and wrote ‘Northern California road trip, Calistoga or bust.’ It was hilarious,” Lennon said. “There were six or seven of them, and they just kind of took our lead and we curated a spa day for them.”

Calistoga Spa Hot Springs — with its geothermal mineral water pools, Swedish and deep tissue massages, and volcanic ash mud baths — attracts “quite a few” bachelorette parties every year, Lennon noted.

After a relaxing spa experience, Calistoga Spa Hot Springs gets ready for the ensuing party atmosphere, Lennon said. The ladies are encouraged to celebrate at the property’s sky deck, which is a little more secluded.

“They can be up there and be silly and giggle and have fun, and have their own spot,” Lennon said. “Sometimes you’ve got to go up there and say, ‘Hey ladies, we know you're having fun, but you’ve just got to remind yourselves that there are other people here.’”

The big event

The Napa Valley has become a top destination for bachelorette parties, giving famous cities such as Nashville and Las Vegas some stiff competition, according to The Knot, an online wedding marketplace. On its website, The Knot states it connects more than 4 million couples with nearly 850,000 vendors across the globe every year.

In an internal study conducted earlier this year, The Knot found 97% of bachelorette parties are overnight events.

And they’re not cheap.

The financial and business news website Business Insider reported the average multiday trip costs $10,800, citing 2023 data from Batch, an app designed to help people plan bachelorette parties and group travel.

Taking the party downtown

“Bachelorette parties in downtown Napa are more popular than ever,” said Bill La Liberte of the Downtown Napa Association. “With all (it) has to offer, these groups can have an unforgettable weekend without ever getting in a car.”

One of downtown Napa’s main attractions is JaM Cellars, which The Knot also called out for its lively offerings.

“I have to say, I am in love with love,” said Michele Truchard, co-founder of JaM Cellars. “I love celebrating all things, oftentimes with bubbles, and I really feel like JaM cellars is a perfect place to celebrate the bride to be.”

Truchard and her husband, John Truchard, started their business 15 years ago making wines, then in 2016 opened their tasting room, which includes a wine and music studio. They also offer culinary experiences.

“(JaM) is very upbeat, it's lively, it's fun,” Michele Truchard said. “We have a huge selection of vinyl, so we like to make it really special for the bride-to-be. She can pick out her own selection to play throughout the evening.”

JaM’s bachelorette parties are usually planned and customized, but walk-ins are welcome, too, said Truchard, a former event planner.

“I've seen quite a few times a group of bachelorettes who thought they were just going to come to Napa for a nice luncheon,” she said, adding oftentimes they’ll see JaM while walking around downtown and stop in. “We can have a glass of wine or toast of bubbles. It definitely depends on how busy we are, but we're able to accommodate most of the time.”

Truchard also acknowledged that sometimes bachelorette parties can get a bit wild.

“There’s the occasional dancing on the tables,” she said, laughing. “We have a disco ball, so we can get the lighting really fun and cool.”

And now passersby can get a firsthand view.

“This past summer, we added accordion windows, so we can actually open (them) to the outside,” Truchard said. “It’s so fun to have people walking by on the street. … They'll cheer them on.”

JaM also offers complimentary Jello shots, which are always at the ready should a last-minute group of celebrants come in, she said.

“To make the Jello shot, we infuse it with a rosé wine and Pop Rocks,” Truchard said. “So it makes it kind of fun and exciting, and our chef loves to throw in a little bit of a surprise.”

Mini Nashville

A stop at JaM Cellars for a Jello shot is a common request among bachelorette parties biking their way through downtown with Napa Pedal Crusher, according to Eric Barnes, one of four co-owners of the Napa company.

“We launched in June, and we found out that the people that are booking the bike the most are bachelorette parties,” Barnes said. “Napa has become this mini-Nashville, so to speak.”

Before the pedalers get moving, they are given a set of safety guidelines, and that includes no alcohol on the bike, Barnes said. The bride-to-be can make her own song playlist, but can’t choose songs with explicit lyrics.

“If you've seen these bikes in action, they get kind of rowdy and people are singing along and screaming and having a good time,” Barnes said. “We didn't think it appropriate to be going down Napa by yelling out some lyrics that might show up in some of the songs these days.

“But that being said, there's plenty of songs out there that everybody knows, and we'll be going down the street and people will be singing along. It's a good time.”

As far as the most requested songs, two artists seem to routinely top the hit list.

“Any Kelly Clarkson anthem or any Miley Cyrus anthem seems to get everybody singing along,” Barnes said.

The Napa Pedal Crusher bike can accommodate up to 16 peddlers, and can be rented individually or as a group. The cost is $65 per person and includes two winery stops during the two-hour excursion. The customizable private tours for 16 people are discounted 20% from the regular $1,040 rate.

Barnes said he saw a niche opportunity to bring a pedal bike to Napa and his co-owners felt the same way. The city of Napa welcomed and approved the business, he said.

“I've been on these (bikes) in Austin and Dallas and San Diego,” Barnes said. “It's definitely changed the landscape in Napa a bit; it’s kind of livened it up.”

Options aplenty

The Culinary Institute of America at Copia regularly hosts private cooking classes, and many of those groups are bachelorette parties, said Lara Rotharmel, manager, Copia Food Enthusiasts.

A branch campus of the Hyde, New York-based private culinary college the Culinary Institute of America, the CIA at Copia opened in 2016. It is located adjacent to the Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa.

“Whether it’s a large private cooking class, a small group sipping in our wine bar that has self-serve dispensers or a large brunch reservation, there are so many options for (these) parties on campus,” Rotharmel said. “We especially see a lot of brunch or dinner reservations at The Grove because it is one of the few spots in Napa that accepts reservations for over 10 people.”

Bachelorette parties can be tailored based on the preferences of the group and the specific classes or packages chosen, she said. Pricing is based per person, with a minimum.

“Every event is interactive and ensures a great bonding experience … and always ends with a fun sit-down together to talk, laugh and reminisce on the day,” Rotharmel said.

For some people, it can be little intimidating to be in a professional kitchen, she said.

“(Our) instructors know exactly how to put everyone at ease and bring out their inner chef,” Rotharmel said. “Depending on the event that’s chosen, they might get special aprons to keep clothing clear of spatters and, perhaps, even a toque for their head to complete the ensemble.”

Starting next month, bachelorette parties may be interested in attending CIA at Copia’s new regular cocktail events. “Three Essential Techniques: Hands on Mixology,” will kickoff the new series Jan. 25.

The cocktail gatherings are being “designed to be fun events that give guests a deeper perspective on cocktails without being too ‘educational,’” Rotharmel said.

Cheryl Sarfaty covers tourism, hospitality, health care and employment. Reach her at or 707-521-4259.

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