A Wine Country escape is a prized ritual in Northern California. Tastings are a given, but add in the hiking, biking, spas, and hot springs, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. We’ve narrowed down the possibilities and divided them evenly by county:
A jug of wine and you. That’s nice, sure, but a loaf of bread stuffed with handcrafted salumi, fancy cheeses, and local greens make for a perfect threesome when visiting wine country. Luckily, many wineries now offer a bevy of artisan picnic selections to enjoy with your bottle pinot. Here are some of our favorites:
What’s a sip of Syrah without Spot by your side? Tasting Cabernet Franc is more fun with Fido, and Merlot is merrier with your mutt to keep you company. More and more NorCal wineries are realizing the appeal of being dog-friendly, inviting four legged friends into the tasting rooms, onto the lawns, and for picnics beneath the shade trees. Just don’t let Buster steal the bocce balls.
With more than 50 miles of coastline along the Pacific into Mendocino County, we implore you to slap on some sunscreen, slip on some flip-flops, and head up north to one of these five choice sandy spots:
I had planned to dedicate my recent Wine Country weekend to a restoration of body and soul, which in my case means eating sensibly, reviving my dusty meditation practice, and partaking of semi-punishing fitness pursuits. I consider all three components the apex of virtue, and, for a mere mortal such as myself, the height of torture.
One of the covetable challenges of living in or near Wine Country is the abundance of first-class food and wine festivals occurring nearly every weekend—plus many weekdays—throughout the year.
Summer brings extra bounty to Wine Country farmers' markets, as juicy berries flourish, stone fruits hang like ornaments on the branches, gardens brim with colorful squash, and vines burst with tomatoes in red, purple, and gold.
Remember when filet mignon was considered the meat of kings, and charcuterie was exotic? No, you probably don’t. Today’s Bay Area diners are so schooled in artisan meats that nose-to-tail dining is de rigeur, even in home kitchens. Simply witness the boutique butcheries cropping up around Wine Country, where cold cases brim with unusual cuts like bavette, all kinds of offal, and handcrafted salumi. Heck, even the most basic ground beef is prime stuff.