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What to Wear: California Wine Country

The autumn weather in Napa and Sonoma isn’t only great for grape growers. The dry sunny days and cool evenings are ripe for travelers as well. Just in time for harvest season, starting in September and culminating with crush month (October and sometimes into November), we have the best transitional weather packing picks for a trip to wine country.



With its close proximity to Silicon Valley and San Francisco, California’s wine belt mixes a low-key country feel with a more upscale undertone. First step: reach for tried and true denim. Slightly flared hems, as spotted in this perfectly distressed pair by Seven for All Mankind ($215), flatter nearly every shape and will slip nicely over a pair of Frye boots. We like this new version in a cognac hue, which will only get better with age, and Cuban heel ($328) for a leg-lengthening yet sensible lift. On top, go for a print blouse in fitting merlot red ($29.99 at Mango). The notch neckline gives it a feminine feel and the rich color will set off this hippie-luxe turquoise bead bracelet ($60). For trips down into the wine vaults, bring along a cardigan for chilly ACs. Something drapey and super-soft, like this Ron Herman double-layered design ($166), is just right for the relaxed mood. Lastly, don’t tote around much while checking out the vineyards; pick a crossbody bag with gypset look to complete the outfit. Newbark, a brand started by stylist sisters Maryam and Marjan Malakpou, has patchwork design ($238, was $680) with colors—chocolate, plum, and black—that are perfect for the season.

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Starry Nights

Temperatures can dip low and quickly in wine country. With that in mind, long, romantic silhouettes work well, particularly in autumnal colors. This T-Bags jersey maxi dress in sunset orange ($82, was $205) stows easily in weekend bags while delivering an approachable glamour. To balance out the lengthy cut, go for a cropped blazer ($130 by Topshop) in taupe (it’ll also do double-duty with your daytime jeans). The neutral color goes with just about everything, like that bright spring scarf from last season that didn’t get enough wears. Sticking with the patchwork theme, this crafty clutch with playful fringed strap by Zara ($159) is part cowboy, part urban sophisticate. Spring for these quirky suede platform sandals ($214, was $535), by Opening Ceremony, which can take you deep into fall with the right pair of tights. Lastly, pay homage to California cool with these stackable bracelets (gorgeous for day or night) in horn and wrapped in bright yellow leather cord ($155 for set of three bangles).



Sunny Days

Crisp, daytime sunshine gives guys tons of range when picking out attire. Chinos in a dark autumn hue, like this melted caramel color ($75 at J.Crew), will liven up wardrobe palettes. Then, opt for a simple tee, or if feeling particularly dandy, this plaid button-down shirt with a contrast knit pocket ($290). It adds just the right amount of style. Keep the rest of the look semi-sporty. A bright blue puffer vest by Nike ($120), dressy olive-hued high-tops ($120), and a canvas wallet with a bright stripe of cobalt ($36) rounds things out. And for the modern man, an iPhone case in renewable bamboo is right on cue: this one comes etched with a whimsical old school camera on the back ($44).


In the Evening

Despite a bounty of top-notch restaurants, there isn’t much of a dress code in Napa or Sonoma. Even so, there’s no excuse for letting your style slip. Baxter of California makes a great travel kit with all your necessary bathroom staples ($50) and comes in a handsome quilted Dopp bag. For your wares, a good strategy is to mix your usual tees and jeans with statement pieces, like this street-wise camouflage print blazer ($585 at Aloha Rag). Pick up pieces from local San Francisco labels like this owl print t-shirt by Nice Collective in a slim fit ($79) to pair with classic Levi’s selvedge jeans updated in a gray wash ($225). Turn to Billy Reid for his men’s chukka boot in butter-soft dark brown calfskin that are the perfect balance between casual and dressy ($395). And just in case you end up swirling and sipping next to a dot-com founder, you’ll be happy you stowed your business cards this leather envelope ($58), in hand-painted dusk blue.

What to Do

Sonoma, with its county harvest fair (Oct. 5-7) is often more accessible than the more developed Napa in terms of budget and accommodations, though both destinations ratchet up (in terms of prices and crowds) come harvest time in September and October. At the annual fair, you can even sign up for the World Championship Grape Stomp (like Lucy and Ethel!) for $30 a team.

Worked up an appetite? Of course you know Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in nearby Yountville, but if you can’t get a reservation (likely) or are Sonoma-bound, worry not—there’s no lack of lauded restaurants to choose from. Often considered French Laundry’s competition is Cyrus, in Healdsburg (just north of Sonoma). Or, spring for something a bit more casual like Glen Ellen Star, which opened earlier this year. Insider tip: Order the PBR (yes, it includes a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon), which comes with a suckling roast pig to serve 8 at, $75 per person.

But the real hidden gem is Addendum. Sitting behind Thomas Keller’s also-famed Ad Hoc restaurant (also in Yountville), is Thomas Keller’s Addendum offering take-away boxed lunches Thursday-Saturday, from 11 am to 2 pm. For $16.50, you can walk up and get their famous buttermilk fried chicken or barbecue to go. Keller on the cheap!

Photo credits: Women: Day: Left, RON HERMAN; Top left center,; Bottom left center, The Frye Company; Right center, Lord & Taylor; Top right, Eminent, Inc. ; Bottom right, MANGO On-Line Inc. Night: Top left, TOPMAN.COM; Bottom left, ZARA; Center,; Top right and bottom right, Saks Fifth Avenue. Men: Day: Top left, UncommonGoodsâ„¢ L.L.C.; Bottom left, Hickoree’s; Top center, STAG; Bottom center, J.CREW; Top right, Bodega LLC; Bottom right, NIKE, INC. Night: Top left, Nice Collective; Bottom left, BAXTER OF CALIFORNIA; Top center, STAG; Bottom center, UNIONMADE; Top right, Billy Reid; Bottom right, ALOHARAG.COM.

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