With late seasonal foliage, cozy wineries, and few crowds, winter is the perfect time to visit and show your love for Wine Country.
In the aftermath of the Northern California fires, images of the destruction have deterred visitors to the area. But locals who work in the region want the world to know that Wine Country is still open for business—and it's as gorgeous as ever.
To see for ourselves, we got a bird's eye view during a sunrise hot air balloon ride. And up high in the sky, as we soared over the valley, we could see few signs of fire damage. Instead, crimson foliage flourished on the vines, the rolling hills were lush with green thanks to a recent rainfall, and we held our breath as we took in the views all the way to San Francisco. Follow our expedition in the sky.
Up we go! This balloon would take off shortly after ours. Our pilot, Bob Swanson, who has flown hot air balloons for 38 years, steered by, blasting the burner and gauging wind direction.
// A standard hot air balloon package includes pre-flight coffee, tea and pastries, one hour in the sky, and a post-flight breakfast at Domaine Chandon Winery. Tickets ($239) are available at Napa Valley Balloons.