Napa Valley (visitnapavalley.com) boasts the landscapes of storybooks—vast mosaics of green that have been preserved by the Land Trust of Napa Valley (napalandtrust.org). For decades, the Land Trust has halted large-scale devleopments and high-rise projects, resulting in a picture-perfect montage of vineyard-lined hills, crystalline rivers and creeks, and towering mountains.
With hundreds of wine estates dazzling with bespoke incarnations of oenophile rhapsody, the adventure here lies in paving your own wine trail. One way to begin the journey is to partake in a vineyard tasting course. In the house blending room at Raymond Vineyards (raymondvineyards.com), chemistry lab meets St. Tropez discothèque as visitors in the “Winemaker for a Day” class create, label and bottle their own red blends to the beats of the cranked-up bass. At St. Supery Vineyards & Winery (stsupery.com), couples put their olfactory senses to the test in “Aromatherapy with a Corkscrew.
Art lovers may choose to spend the day at The Hess Collection (hesscollection.com), where guests tour Donald Hess’ exquisite private collection of modern art before being treated to a presentation of current-release wines paired with either artisan cheeses or homemade chocolate truffles in the gardens of a 1903 European-style stone winery. Thrill seekers may opt to venture high in the mountains to Schramsberg Vineyards (schramsberg.com) for a rare tasting session featuring sparkling wines and a tour of the history-steeped grounds of this legendary German estate. Not to be missed: the labyrinths of storage caves.
To temper the days of heavy pours, indulge in a farm-fresh Italian feast at Bottega (botteganapavalley.com). Chef Michael Chiarello creates divine interventions of antipasti, pastas and secondis like black garlic spaghetti with prawns and forno-roasted, Calabrian-style whole fish with grilled eggplant and fermented garlic. Organic eaters frequent the Michelin-starred Solbar (solagecalistoga.com/solbar), where Executive Chef Brandon Sharp divides his eclectic menu between hearty cuisine like pork shoulder over cheddar grits and lighter dishes such as Coke Farm escarole salad with pomegranate seed and Bartlett pears in a honey-tabil vinaigrette.
One of the most serene spots for slumber is Meadowood (meadowood.com), which sits amid the picturesque montage. Clusters of stilted lodges and cottages, each rustically elegant with stone fireplaces and intimate terraces, are spaced over a private, 250-acre estate that houses sporting activities, a world-class spa and The Restaurant at Meadowood, which has earned three Michelin stars.
About 15 miles to the west of Napa lies Sonoma County, a different experience with vineyards stretching to the coast. Sonoma is heavy on the small-town charm and home to unique establishments like The Barlow (thebarlow.net), a former apple cannery that has been converted to a hodgepodge of tasting rooms, craft breweries, food producers, art galleries and restaurants including Zazu (zazurestaurant.com), the beloved farm-to-table eatery of chefs Duskie Estes and John Stewart.
Straddling the border of Napa and Sonoma is the Carneros Inn (thecarnerosinn.com). The inn, situated on uninterrupted expanses of verdant hills bursting with Pinot Noir, is divided into small neighborhoods of farmhouse- chic cottages. Each flaunts a private backyard draped with climbing rose bushes and relaxation areas perfect for enjoying one more glass of wine.