Running longitudinally from the town of Napa through Yountville, Oakville and Rutherford to St Helena in the north, Napa Valley stretches roughly 30 miles, although even the locals have an elastic definition of “the valley.” The global importance of its $34 billion wine industry, however, is indisputable. Drawing world-class chefs, oenophiles and wellness enthusiasts since the 1970s, today this viticulture region is a thriving nature preserve that houses one of the most diverse agricultural communities in the state of California. For visitors, that translates to alternative winemaking methodologies, innovative spa treatments and wild culinary adventures — some without even leaving the comfort of your hotel room. While the 2017 wildfires had a definite effect on Napa Valley and its residents, the county is flourishing after what many vintners deemed a near-perfect, post-fire growing season.
by Alexandra Cheney
LAND VS SKY
NAPA VALLEY BIKE TOURS Napa Valley Bike Tours skips clichéd tours through customization, whether it be time (half-day, full-day), distance, included wineries, roads (on-pavement, through vineyards) or the bikes available (electric, road, dirt, self-guided); there’s a tour to satisfy everyone. Van support means a designated driver will pick up and deliver any purchased wines along the way —most guides grew up in the region, so local geography and topography won’t be an issue. napavalleybiketours.com NAPA VALLEY BALLOONS Marvel at the rows of perfectly planted grapes and undulating hillsides from above. Ideal for two passengers, the hour-long balloon flight gives a sense of the expansive and varied Napa Valley landscape. Docking at the Domaine Chandon Winery for a post-flight private breakfast prior to the winery opening to the public, be sure to take a stroll through the terrace and lawn, which are surrounded by indigenous, old-growth oak trees. napavalleyballoons.com
Photos Bob McClenahan, Matt Morris for TPWC, Will Pryce, Erhard Pfeiffer