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A new Napa hotel charges $1,300 a night. Are prices really that high across Wine Country?

These days, traveling to Napa sounds like a luxury. Michelin-starred restaurants have boosted the region’s culinary profile, and $500-plus wine tastings are in high demand.

It hasn’t escaped the notice of Wall Street Journal wine columnist Lettie Teague, who outlined some of the rising prices in the region in her latest column, headlined “Who Can Afford Napa Now? Not This Wine Columnist.

The article notes that Stanly Ranch, a hotel opening this week just south of Napa, starts at $1,259 per night during the week. If you’re staying on a weekend, that number climbs as much as $1,899 per night.

It’s worth noting the Stanly is by no means the most expensive stay in Napa. Some resorts hidden among the region’s vineyards charge even more for their standard rooms. And if you’re looking for a fully tricked-out penthouse-style hotel room — or, as at Carneros Resort & Spa, a cottage of your own — one night can run upward of $4,000 (more than the per capita monthly income in 2020 in Napa, according to the U.S. Census Bureau).

These numbers are eye-popping, but the WSJ article has left many Wine Country locals feeling defensive, according to Chronicle wine critic Esther Mobley and wine reporter Jess Lander. They write that there is a web of factors much more complicated than what the Journal story acknowledges behind the sky-high prices in Napa.

The Chronicle looked at several hotels in Napa County to see what prices across the full spectrum really look like. We looked at the price of a one-night stay during the week in June, before taxes and occupancy fees.

As domestic travelers packed their bags for Wine Country during the pandemic, the region saw high demand for its 5,700 rooms, according to Visit Napa Valley, a tourism group.

“What it says to me is that visitors are willing to pay a premium to travel anywhere,” said Linsey Gallagher, president of Visit Napa Valley.

Wine Country appeals to travelers who are still hesitant to vacation overseas during this part of the pandemic, Gallagher said. Because of its plentiful outdoor experiences such as wine-tasting, horseback riding and hiking, tourists feel safe while still having fun.

For the budget-conscious traveler

Not all lodgings are prohibitively expensive. While hotel prices have steadily ticked up over the last decade (the average daily room rate went from $239 in 2012 to $404 in 2021, according to Smith Travel Research), Wine Country still offers some relatively affordable options.

Staying in downtown Napa is cheaper than staying at resorts in the rest of Wine Country. Although it may require a longer drive to vineyards scattered throughout the county, it’s just a fraction of the cost of some luxury hotels in the area.