Get Up & Go: Wine WeekendWanna get away? Too often, I find myself failing to take advantage of the fabulous destinations all within a couple hours of the Bay Area. We’ve got the ocean, mountains, forests, and desert, all within a stone’s throw. And let’s not forget about NorCal’s specialty: the grapes. We’ve got a world-renowned reputation for wine and nobody knows it better than Napa. But is Napa the only option? I’m here to tell you that there are plenty of other choices, all with a plentiful selection of grapes sans the crowds of Napa.
With the weather warming up, why not celebrate the kick off to summer with a road trip? Whether you’re traveling solo, with the family, your closest gal pals or boo, there are plenty of options for a wine weekend getaway, none of which will clock your odometer more than a hundred miles or so or stretch your budget beyond belief.
For nature lovers… Boonville, CA
This wine region located 90 miles north of Sonoma is perfectly suited for nature lovers, as it's a stone throw from the Mendocino redwoods. It's known for its small-production Pinot Noirs, but its Alsatian varietals—Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Riesling—are worth exploring, too. Sip at Mt Konocti, Londer, and Navarro wineries and then soak up the scenery. Don’t forget to pack your bathing suit! Come summer, don't miss splashing around in the swimming hole at the Navarro River.
For girls’ getaway… Lodi, CA
This Central Valley town knows its wine, and it's easy to explore much of its tasting rooms in a day, as most of the action is located within a 15-minute drive from downtown. While the vibe is laid-back, the number of local restaurants and cafes is perfectly suited to girls’ night (weekend) out. Not to mention, the grape cred is staggering: The 600,000 tons of wine grapes grown here each year is more than Napa and Sonoma combined. Skip the Napa-sized crowds and sip the area's signature juicy Zinfandels.
For the family vacay… Monterey County, CA
Within an easy drive of Monterey, discover under-the-radar vineyards tucked against the mountains south of Salinas. Follow Monterey Country's Wine Trail to the 20 or so wineries along River Road. Make a trip of your trip and stop to pick up organic farm stand produce, have a picnic lunch, and even visit a ranch where lions and lynxes roam, all en route towards the vines.
For a romantic trip for two… St. Helena, CA
Napa County’s St. Helena is a vibrant and engaging community that celebrates the finest in wine country hospitality, culinary adventure, wine immersion, the arts, health and wellness. Spend the day pampering yourself and your partner at an indulgent spa and your evening experiencing fine dining in one of the city’s many award-winning restaurants.
Obviously, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Napa and Sonoma. However, if you’re looking for something off the beaten path (or off the stomped grapes, so to speak), it’s time to gas up the car. Friday couldn’t come sooner!
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