48 HOURS IN SONOMA and NAPA VALLEY, CALIFORNIA
In addition to the vineyards, the region boasts fantastic hiking and cycling trails.
Just an hour north of San Francisco, famed wineries throughout California’s Twin Valleys open their doors to novices and sommeliers alike for crush season (September to late October). While wine tastings and fine cuisine make an excellent pairing, outdoor activities like hiking and biking offers yet another great way to enjoy the rolling vineyards and crisp autumn air. Here, how to take advantage of two days in the area.
WHERE TO STAY
In Napa Valley, there’s no setting more serene than at Calistoga Ranch tucked in the upper part of the region, known for their mineral hot springs and world-renowned wine. Cedar shingled lodges sit on 157 acres of land surrounded by ancient oak trees, lakes, and streams. Hike the quarter-mile of trail that winds through the grounds where deer and other wildlife run free. Dine at The Lakehouse where an expert chef uses fresh ingredients from the onsite garden for his hyper-seasonal menu items, like a vegetable hash with ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms for breakfast or local black cod with blood orange, edible flowers, and Santa Barbara-sourced uni for dinner.
In Sonoma Valley, check into the Mediterranean-influenced Kenwood Inn and Spa that provides guests with a quiet refuge. Located in the Valley of the Moon, it's home to hundreds of vineyards and wildlife areas such as the Armstrong Redwoods State Preserve. Zen gardens, natural pools, and an acclaimed spa make for a luxurious getaway.
For a quick, healthy breakfast, stop at local-favorite Greens & Goods juice shop in Oxbow Market in Napa. Head to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, which has over 21 miles of trails for hiking and horseback riding. Or spend a half or full day enjoying the scenic roads via bicycle with Napa or Sonoma Valley Bike Tours. Guides explain the region's history and wine-making process and stops along the way offer small tastings.
After your ride, wind down with a happy hour tasting at Donum Estate. Try a glass of pinot noir or chardonnay as you take in the impressive collection of sculptures, including installations by famed artists Yayoi Kusama and Ai Weiwei. This popular spot is reservation only, so be sure to call ahead.
For dinner, visit the restaurant at the Michelin-starred Farmhouse Inn. Ingredients are gathered straight from the ranch of the fifth-generation Sonoma farmers, with a continuously evolving menu and wine pairings with a large selection from Sonoma county and beyond.
Start the day at the historic Indian Springs Spa in Napa that features 17 acres of land studded with ponds, olive trees, and lavender bushes. Said to have restorative powers, the geysers produce rich mineral water and deposit a pure volcanic ash used for mud baths and rumored to cure conditions from eczema to sore muscles.
After your morning of relaxation, visit Seghesio Family Vineyards, a family-run estate that has been producing zinfandels and other Italian varietals since 1895. From September through October, the vineyard managers lead guests on a two-hour hike through the 120-year-old vines at the Home Ranch Estate. You’ll make your way to the top of the picturesque Rattlesnake Hill, overlooking the Alexander Valley, where you’ll be rewarded with lunch and wine.
Finish your day with an adventurous dining experience aboard Napa Valley’s Wine Train, a restored 20th century antique train equipped with plush dining cars that runs through the heart of the Valley. A dinner of multiple courses highlights classic California cuisine like skillet-roasted chicken with sweet peppers and broccolini or pan-seared potato gnocchi with roasted fennel and fava beans, all freshly prepared while you enjoy the stunning views.