Wine Country: Napa and Sonoma

First came the grape and it was followed by some of the finest bed and breakfasts, superb hotels and inns and fantastic resort accommodations found anywhere in the world. Funny what a little fruit that can stain has accomplished. Our itinerary ‘Wandering through the Wine Country’ leads you on a wondrous trip exploring the bounty of the grape. The Napa and Sonoma Valleys, just north of San Francisco, have earned a well-merited reputation for the excellence of their wines and many of the wineries are open to the public for tours and tasting. But there is so much more to lure you here than sampling winesandmdash;informative tours, exquisite artwork, historic buildings, movie memorabilia, and beautiful scenery abound. A visit to the wine country makes a pleasant excursion any time of year. In summer the days are long and warm, perfect for bike rides, picnics, music festivals, concerts, and art shows. As summer days give way to the cooler afternoons and crisp evenings of fall, the lush foliage on the thousands of acres of grapevines turns to red, gold, and yellow-a colorful reminder that it is time for harvest. You can sense the energy of the crush as vintners work against the clock and weather to pick grapes at their prime. In winter, cool days are often washed by rain, but this is also an excellent time to visit since this is off season and the winery tours will be almost private as you travel from one vineyard to the next. Spring is glorious: mustard blossoms paint the valleys yellow, contrasting dramatically with the dark bark of the vines laced with the delicate green of new leaves.

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