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Relax Your Way Up the Coast of California

Northern California Road Trip

If you are looking to getaway and get some much needed R&R then take the drive along California’s coast, it’s the ultimate destination to get the relaxation you deserve. Enjoy breathtaking views, sip wine by day, and indulge in gourmet by night. Here’s a guide to planning your perfect trip to Sonoma and Napa Valleys.

Getting there

Fly into San Francisco and stay at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel. Located at the top of Nob Hill, this luxury hotel will give you access to breathtaking views of the Bay Area, ensuring you make the best of your time there. Grab a bite at one of the buzziest new restaurants in the city, Del Popolo, which is right around the corner from the hotel. Enjoy Neapolitan-inspired pizza and beautiful antipasti, along with a curated list of wine to prime your palate for Wine Country. After you enjoy a quick stay in the city (and snap some photos of the Golden Gate Bridge at Crissy Field, of course), drive up the coast to Sonoma and Napa Valleys to officially commence your vineyard adventure.

Sonoma County

Just 45 minutes north of San Francisco lies Sonoma County, home to world-renowned wineries like Kendall-Jackson and La Crema. As the producer of America’s favorite Chardonnay for 25 years, a visit to the Kendall-Jackson Estate is an essential experience. Don’t miss their Farm-to-Table Dinner Series beginning this month, which features fresh appetizers and gourmet family-style meals from the estate garden’s daily harvest. The delectable feast is paired with Kendall-Jackson wines, all to be enjoyed under the beautiful open sky of a Sonoma evening.

The new La Crema Estate at Saralee’s Vineyard also offers unique wine educational and cultural experiences. From simple wine tastings in a multi-level historic barn to VIP tasting tours through the stunning vineyard, there is a breadth of options to enjoy the delicious offerings of La Crema. Be sure to taste their new Saralee Vineyard Pinot Noir Rosé, a crisp treat for summer featuring hints of cranberry, raspberry, and crushed herb. La Crema fans can also discover a variety of limited-production releases in the winery’s modern tasting lounge, located in Healdsburg.

Also located in Healdsburg is the Hartford Family Winery tasting room, where you can enjoy signature flights of their award-winning Chardonnays, Zinfandels, and Pinot Noirs. Book a Wine & Cheese package in advance to enjoy premium wines perfectly paired with local artisan cheeses.

Relax and wind down from a day of tastings at the Madrona Manor Wine Country Inn, the perfect place to stay to give you a quintessential Wine Country experience. This rejuvenated 1881 Victorian mansion sits on acres of a wooded hillside and English gardens, with easy access to hikes in which you can explore surrounding vineyards.

Napa Valley

Although picking the best wineries in Napa is like picking a favorite child, the Stags’ Leap winery is one you cannot miss. Stags’ Leap helped put California wine on the radar around the world in the 1970’s when it won the best Cabernet in a blind tasting in Paris; in fact, it was mistaken for local Bordeaux. Stop by the beautiful Victorian style estate to enjoy beautiful views, rich history, and (of course) incredible wine. Also renowned for producing some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon is Robert Mondavi. This beautiful winery offers a 90-minute Signature Tour which includes the vineyards, cellars and a sit-down, guided tour and tasting. Book in advance, as this popular experience sells out quickly. For dining options, if you’re willing to splurge on an extraordinary culinary experience, don’t miss Thomas Keller’s Michelin-anointed French Laundry, located in Yountville. Be sure to arrive a few minutes early to stroll around the restaurant gardens across the street, where French Laundry’s fresh ingredients are sourced from.

Experience ultimate tranquility by staying at the Poetry Inn, an intimate inn perched on the hillside, giving you access to magnificent views of Napa.

Santa Barbara

If you opt to take a drive down south from San Francisco (not a bad option if you enjoy long road trips and stunning views of the ocean along the PCH), stop in Santa Barbara to enjoy some waves with your wine. This beachy county also produces some of the finest wines, specializing in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc. Stop by the Cambria tasting room and enjoy a picnic of fine wine, gourmet cheeses, and scenic views. Cambria is the perfect destination for that mother daughter trip, as the female-owned and operated winery believes in honoring women around the world and is making a difference through their Seeds of Empowerment program. Each year, the program gives $100,000 to women making a difference in their communities. While you’re in town, be sure to stop and try some of the best tacos in California at La Super-Rica Taqueria, which Julia Childs was a loyal customer of.

Whether you opt to explore the vineyards in Napa and Sonoma or in Santa Barbara, your trip will be unforgettable as you explore premium wines from a selection of over 400 wineries, hike the gorgeous rolling hills, take in stunning views, and indulge in the delicious culinary offerings of some of the world’s finest chefs.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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