The spring season always inspires me to find a good road trip, ride with the windows down, let my mind wander with the winding road and the warm wind tousle the winter blues right out of my hair. One such scenic drive is just outside of San Francisco in Napa Valley. When it comes to wine, you could spend a year tasting your way through Napa. However, if you just want to get away for the weekend, I've compiled a few things to get your itinerary started.
First, decide how you're going to ride. If you plan on stopping at each vineyard, I recommend hiring a limo and letting someone else do the driving. But if you're more in the mood to take in the scenery and taste your favorites, then renting a convertible is the way to go.
Next, plan your route. I recommend starting with heart of Napa, in the quaint town of St. Helena. Wake up your taste buds in the morning with a gourmet brunch at one of their many bed and breakfasts. Here you can leisurely start the day chatting with other travelers on a vino-cation.
After your belly is full and your tongue has worked up a thirst for wine-tasting, head over to their local grocer, Sunshine Foods Market, to pack a picnic lunch for your drive. Here you can find artisan cheeses, baguettes, chocolates and other delectable finger foods that pair perfectly with wine. I highly recommend bringing snacks with you as you will not find many dining selections along these grapevine lined roads. However, there are many scenic stops and most winemakers have picnic areas.
Finally, choose your vineyards. The choices are nearly endless and there are several notable winemakers near St. Helena. A couple of my personal favorites include the small family-owned Dutch Henry Winery as well as the more well known vineyards of Cakebread and Caymus.
Enjoy the vine-to-glass journey of discovering your favorite wines.