One day, hopefully sooner rather than later, we’ll all be able to return to some semblance of normality. And, for many of us who are fortunate, that means getting away on a summer vacation – and this year, Covid-safe restrictions and vaccine rollout permitting, how about taking a safety-first road trip around Northern California’s Napa Valley and Sonoma County to explore the many wonderful wineries they offer?
Believe it or not, there are around 600 wineries in this region alone, ensuring that surely a number of them will be open later this year – with necessary social-distancing precautions in place – to visitors staying at the likes of Good Nite Inn Rohnert Park.
Those in the know claim the best time of year to hit up these wineries is August thru October, meaning that – hopefully! – it’ll be possible to hold your own little road-based tour of the vineyards in this beautiful part of the world (taking in all the glorious panoramas along the way, naturally), what the with the pandemic having passed its peak. Fingers crossed!
Just make sure, though, that each morning when you set out to one of the wineries (suggested below) from your checked-into Goodnite Inn, you designate a sober driver for the day.
Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley
(6711 Wahington Street, Yountville)
Blessed with, for a winery, a rare blend of wine, design and artworks, this Yountville venue presents visitors with a 1904-built main building as well as the on-site Aerena Gallery, which offers a fantastic collection of fine art and fantastic furnishings; many of which are actually for sale. Appropriate for these social-distancing-necessary times, this place is also resplendent with a fire pit outside and well-appointed sculpture gardens – an important pre-visit point to note, as well as the fact that you may want to identify where the nearest Sonoma County Covid-19 responder room is (for instance, is it at the accommodation you’ve booked?).
(1991 Saint Helena Highway, Rutherford)
No wine tour in this part of the world’s complete without taking in one of the region’s oldest vineyards and, no question, the near 125-year-old Inglenook makes for a fine choice, indeed. Having opened way back in 1879, it’s not just an oldie but a goody, offering up a session of wine tasting with partisan cheese in a private cave. Yum!
Castello di Amoroso
(4045 Saint Helena Highway, Calistoga)
What’s better than visiting a winery with a castle? Featuring a simply fabulous 13th-Century-Tuscan-style castle (with, yes, a moat and drawbridge), this one’s an absolute must-do for your road trip, what with its medieval Italian-inspired setting. Needless to say, the wine tasting in the cellars beneath the castle isn’t bad, either – to say putting this place on your itinerary’s a good idea, when you make good on those Goodnite Inn hotel offers, is putting it mildly.
(Northern Sonoma County)
Heading into Sonoma County, now, you’ll find a plethora of perfect day-out options courtesy of all the highly recommended wineries that lie in wait along the stretch of Californian country labeled as ‘Wine Road’. Specifically, this moniker refers to the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River valleys, in which you’ll find tucked away a total 200 different wineries; among them, some of the oldest in the entire state.
Finally, there surely can’t be a better way to round out your road trip than by swapping four wheels for two and taking in yet more of the glorious country offered by California. Yes, the appealingly named Sonoma Adventures enables visitors to enjoy winery-focused bike tours, thanks to their clever business model – they rent bikes as well as organize bike tours for those wishing to explore and discover the county’s lesser-known paths and yet more glorious wineries. Perfect.