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Napa Valley Drifters

Napa, CA, USA
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About Napa Valley Drifters
Watch the sun rise across Napa’s picturesque mountains and wineries from a gondola high in the sky! Our balloons are flown by experienced FAA pilots who know the valley VERY well, creating the SAFEST and most amazing experience. Napa Valley Drifters takes flight early mornings, seven days a week, weather permitting. Each trip offers the unique opportunity to experience the balloon’s inflation, take pictures, enjoy the sunrise, and end with a complimentary bottle of champagne from Napa Valley’s very own vineyard.
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Napa Valley Drifters
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23Reviews1Q&A
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Kturch24 wrote a review Oct 2018
Grand Rapids, Michigan6 contributions5 helpful votes
Came to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Did exactly as reservation required. Called night before to confirm with the phone number provided in confirmation. Spoke to Terry. He began yelling at me asking why I was calling his cell. I politely told him I was calling number that was provided. I ask Terry to stop yelling at me. His response was he was just “gruff”. We were to call the next morning to double check on weather. Our meeting time was 6:45am per the reservation. Called as I was told and it seemed like he had just woken up. He asked why I was calling since the sun doesn’t rise until 7:15am. I said we are suppose to be meeting at 6:45am. His response was “yeah, we are going to cancel because of the weather. I told him the weather looks perfect”. He then hung up. FYI. Weather is very low wind, and sunny and clear at sunrise. Perfect for hot air balloon ride. I would not trust this operation. This was a bucket list item and to celebrate our anniversary.
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Date of experience: October 2018
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patentizer wrote a review Oct 2018
Orchard Lake, Michigan6 contributions
+1
It's a bit difficult to separate the experience of the balloon ride itself from the company offering the service, but I will do my best. For our group of 4, it was an amazing way to see Napa Valley for the first time during our trip. We arrived in Sonoma during evening hours and spent the first day in Sonoma tasting rooms and vineyards. Then we drove to Napa in the morning to meet up for the balloon ride, which was spectacular. You're basically watching the sun come up over the valley as the ground fog burns off, and there are several other (10-12) balloons in the air, which makes it even more scenic somehow because you really can't see your own balloon except from the bottom. The pilot, Mark, was professional and personable, calm, and inspired confidence. He also knew the area we were flying over and kept us occupied with information and answered questions. Regarding the company, I will say that I purposely chose this smaller, less-reviewed outfit because we didn't want to go in a balloon with a crowd of 20-some people or be shuffled through turnstiles or anything too pre-packaged. I knew we would have a max of 6-8 people, and it turned out to be just us four. There were certain aspects of the experience that felt like we were dealing more with regular people than a company of employees. I happen to prefer that, so it was great...but I supposed some people would have a better sense of security with a larger outfit with more streamlined procedures, etc. The owner, Terry, called the night before to remind me to call in the morning to verify no weather cancellation. I called around 5:30am, and we were on. We met the pilot Mark at our meeting point, which was near a Starbucks in Napa. He drove us to the launch site, where they were filling the balloon just as dawn was breaking...good photo ops. Then we climbed in and took off. Other than the on-again off-again burner sound (which is too loud to talk over), it was very peaceful. We floated along at several different elevations for about an hour. Mark was in continuous contact with Terry and crew in the chase car to let them know which way we were headed, then where he was intending to land, which appears to be a sort of on-the-fly decision. There was a little confusion on the ground about where exactly to set the balloon down -- Terry is pretty high-strung, and Mark is very calm, but it all worked out well and I don't think any one of us was ever alarmed or anything. There just happened to be some fenced areas that were going to make it difficult to deflate the balloon, which takes a large area. The landing was soft and precise, aided by people on the ground. The two men in our group ended up helping with balloon deflation and packaging by standing by to make sure the balloon didn't fall on a pile of dead grape vines during deflation and then helping bundle the balloon to go into its bag. This was all a little unexpected -- we didn't expect to do some work at the end of our trip. But for me and our group, it was great...better than having some people coral us behind a line or something to avoid liability while they work. Again - this is one of those smaller outfit nuances that I enjoyed immensely, while I suppose other people may not have. I personally like seeing the owner out there being the hardest working person in the group. Overall, everyone knew what they were doing, and we had a safe and enjoyable experience which was arguably the highlight of our 5-day stay in Sonoma/Napa. I recommend Napa Valley Drifter, particularly if you're looking for (and/or are okay with) a more personal experience.
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Date of experience: October 2018
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marathondoctorjohn wrote a review May 2018
13 contributions2 helpful votes
I called several companies for a hot air balloon ride for Mother’s Day for my wife. Napa valley drifters were great, accommodating and my wife and daughter and I loved the beautiful trip over Napa valley! We were all by ourselves with the pilot instead of being with a larger group. Other hot air balloon companies started later and ended their trips sooner than our trip. I would highly recommend this company.
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Date of experience: May 2018
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tondamd wrote a review Apr 2018
Brighton, Illinois20 contributions4 helpful votes
We were scheduled for a ballon ride on a Friday AM. We were called the evening before as seems to be done and he ask how long we were in the area and told us of other information necessary for the flight. The next morning we received a call that the pilot was sick and the flight had to be cancelled. I think we were probably the only ones scheduled and he didn’t want to make the flight for a small passenger list. I had read other reviews where he had cancelled last minute for unsubstantiated reasons. We did reschedule for Saturday AM however we had a full day planned and this did not work well in our plans but we wanted to do the balloon ride. The following morning I told him I didn’t believe the pilot was sick and we were likely the only ones scheduled. He didn’t deny it, only fumbled with words a bit. Interestingly the pilot talked about his long bike ride the previous day when he was supposedly “sick”. The ballon ride was nice however the entire experience was marred. I would definitely go with a bigger company that has more activity and balloons and can accommodate low activity days.
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Date of experience: April 2018
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Jwilliams191 wrote a review Mar 2018
Houston, Texas154 contributions21 helpful votes
+1
I researched my options and compared the several companies beforehand. SOOOOO glad I chose this one. This is a smaller company and such an AWESOME group of people. Our pilot Mark was awesome and everyone we dealt with were so friendly and helpful. It rained almost our entire vacation and the first day there we had planned to do the balloon ride.... Well bad weather ruined those plans but they continually helped us reschedule and find a day (our last day in napa) that would work. The communication skills were excellent. The ride itself was longer than I expected (NO COMPLAINTS). It was so fun and the photos are freaking amazing! I HIGHLY recommend this company over the others... Like seriously, LOOK NO FURTHER!!!! BOOK IT!!!! DO IT! BEST EXPERIENCE IN NAPA!!!!
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Date of experience: March 2018
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