Discovering Napa & Sonoma

Light filters through broad leaves amongst rows of grape vines.
Napa Valley produces only 4% of California’s wines, but its wineries have a worldwide reputation. Photo © Konstantin Sutyagin/123rf.

Between wild volcanic mountain ranges, and along wide and untamed rivers, sit the valleys of Napa and Sonoma, California’s garden of earthly delights. No other place blesses the whims and tantalizes the senses quite like this one.

Soak in a soothing mud bath. Smell lavender wafting through the valley as you lounge poolside. Picnic on farmstead cheese and figs still warm from the sun. Dine on food prepared by some of the world’s best chefs from ingredients cultivated only a few feet away.

And we have not even started talking about the wine. Vines of chardonnay, cabernet, zinfandel, and sauvignon blanc grapes, just to name a few, cover the land in lush ribbed acres, while nearby tasting rooms—some large, some small—pour expertly crafted wine.

Wine has been integral to life here since the Spanish missionaries arrived and planted the first grapevines. It was later perfected by 19th-century European immigrants, who built the grand estates that today stand as monuments to their accomplishments.

Napa Valley is the beating heart of California’s famed Wine Country. Although it only produces 4 percent of the state’s wine, Napa, along with its world-class wineries, constellation of Michelin-starred restaurants, and spas that take pampering to new levels, epitomizes paradise.

Despite lacking the same name recognition as its neighbor, Sonoma County often offers more diversity. It is home to sleepy villages, small farms, laid-back wineries, and the historic towns of Sonoma and Healdsburg. Eventually, the bucolic farmland yields to towering redwoods and the impressive, and often unruly, Russian River. Here, backpacks and canoes replace mud baths and massages, beer rivals wine for accolades and devotees, and celebrated farm-to-table restaurants rarely require a reservation.

It is hard to know whether the spirit of Bacchus came with the wine, or if it was already here. But either way, whatever your heart’s delight, you will find it in Napa and Sonoma. From valley floors flat enough to invite a bicycle tour through vineyards heavy with fruit, to the rugged mountaintops that reward your inner outdoorsman, to wild rivers, piping hot mineral pools, colorful country stores, and chic upscale boutiques. Through it all, there’s enough farm-fresh food and award-winning wine—from champagne to zinfandel—to keep you fueled and inspired. There is no better place to savor the moment.

Color travel map of Napa & Sonoma, California
Napa & Sonoma

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