Wine Country as a Spring Getaway
With hundreds of wineries, Michelin-starred restaurants, breathtaking natural beauty and luxurious resorts, northern California’s wine country is a great spot for a fun getaway.
While Napa and Sonoma counties experienced some wildfires, the damage was confined to a small area and vineyards were largely spared. The wine industry and tourism provide about 100,000 jobs and generate billions annually, making them vital to the region’s economic health. Officials want travelers to know that wine country – 60 to 90 minutes from San Francisco – is ready and eager to welcome visitors.
Northern California’s Mediterranean climate – warm days, cool evenings and dry summers – makes it an ideal spot to grow grapes for fine wines. The history of winemaking in the region dates to the mid 19th-century, but really took off in the 1960s and 1970s.
Today, no matter where you go, you’re never far from a tasting. Full-bodied Cabernets, fruity Merlots and buttery Chardonnays are just some of the dozens of varieties you’ll find at the more than 400 wineries that dot the region. At large operations, like Robert Mondavi in Napa Valley, with its graceful, California Mission-style architecture, you can not only sample wine but also take a tour that follows the path of grapes from the vineyard to the finished product. Or try the Napa Valley Wine Train, a three-hour trip served with wine and a multiple course gourmet meal.
Travelers who want a taste of the great outdoors along with their wine will find plenty of opportunities.
Wine country is a great place to see California’s towering redwood trees. Take a drive along the 10-mile Bohemian Highway in Sonoma County, one of the state’s most scenic routes. It winds through the redwoods and past organic farms, wineries and towns with unique shops and restaurants. Also in Sonoma, visit the home of writer and adventurer Jack London, known for books like “The Call of the Wild.” The area, now a state park, has miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, as well as historic buildings from the time when London lived there. In Napa, take a walk through Yountville and enjoy its small-town charm. If you can’t get a reservation at the famed French Laundry, you can always walk across the street to explore the public garden, where many of the vegetables used in the restaurant are grown.
This spring’s wine country events include Passport to Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County’s premier wine and food festival, April 28-29, with more than 40 wineries taking part. That same weekend, Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District holds its annual Vineyard to Vintner event, with special dinners and winery open houses. Sonoma County’s Hot Air Balloon Classic takes place June 9-10. If you visit during harvest time, beginning in mid-August and running through the end of October, some wineries, like Grgich Hills Estate in Napa Valley, will let you stomp in a barrel of freshly picked grapes.
For help planning a trip to California’s wine country, contact your travel agent or click below to get a quote.