Napa and Sonoma Top Experiences
Tasting wines and touring wineries are favorite Wine Country pastimes. Some places enhance the experience with art galleries, high design, stunning views, or a little razzle-dazzle; others are content to let their wines and gracious hospitality do the talking. Superb wines and amiable guides make Rutherford's Frog's Leap Vineyards an ideal stop.
Luxurious Spa Treatments
Pleasure palaces like the Fairmont's Willow Stream Spa in Sonoma, with its natural thermal pools and luxurious massage and other treatments, deliver the ultimate in self-indulgence. The spa’s signature bathing ritual includes exfoliating showers, an herbal steam bath, and a sauna.
Olive Oil Tasting
At classy Round Pond Estate's olive oil tasting in Rutherford, you can dispense with swirling wines and learn to swish the aromatic oils in your mouth like a pro. Tours begin with a walk past olive trees and into the state-of-the-art mill, then proceed to the tasting, which includes red-wine vinegars.
A Meal at The French Laundry
Chef Thomas Keller's Yountville restaurant is considered one of the country's best, and with good reason: the mastery of flavors and attention to detail are subtly remarkable, and the master sommelier’s wine pairings elevate Keller’s soaring cuisine all the more.
Art Tours at di Rosa
If you've ever wondered what it would be like to buy every piece of art that tickled your fancy, tour the galleries and grounds of the di Rosa arts center, whose discerning founder did precisely that. His passion was Northern California art from the 1960s to the present.
At Joseph Phelps, Raymond, and elsewhere you can try your hand at fashioning a Bordeaux-style blend from Cabernet Sauvignon and other grapes. In addition to having a fun and educational time, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation of the skill and knowledge crafting fine wines requires.
Food and Wine Pairings
St. Francis and Ram's Gate are among the Sonoma County wineries whose tastings pair fine wines and small gourmet plates. Tastings over at Jordan are part of an estate tour with stops at the organic garden that supplies the ingredients and a hilltop vista point with 360-degree views of the 1,200-acre property.
Few experiences in the world are as exhilarating (and yet marvelously serene) as an early-morning balloon ride above the vineyards—a bucket-list staple and deservedly so. Most begin at dawn and end in late morning with brunch and sparkling wine.
Cooking Demos at the CIA
Instructors and guest chefs beguile students and visitors during one-hour cooking demonstrations at the Culinary Institute of America's St. Helena and Napa campuses. Recipes reflect what’s in season at the time, and a glass of wine often accompanies the dish that’s prepared.
Cycling Through the Vineyards
Gentle hills and vineyard-laced farmland make Napa and Sonoma perfect for combining leisurely back-roads cycling with winery stops. Napa Valley Bike Tours and the affiliated Sonoma Valley Bike Tours conduct guided rides that include picnic lunches among the grapevines.
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