Just a 90-minute drive north of San Francisco, you’ll find a sprawling green space 30 miles long and a few miles wide with more than 450 wineries ranging from family-owned to corporate.
This is the Napa Valley. Scattered across the hills are endless rows of vines.
Considered one of the best wine-growing regions in the United States, it is home to a wide variety of grapes that thrive in the dry Mediterranean climate. The valley has a relatively long history when it comes to winemaking. Italian immigrants brought varieties such as Sangiovese from their homeland when they settled here in the 19th century, and commercial wine production began around 1860.
So what’s the best way to see and taste as much as possible? One of the most fun options is to hop aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train or Wine Trolley. The Wine Train is a lovingly restored vintage Pullman with stylish 1920s flair that takes you on a scenic journey through the valley.
Tours stop at a number of wineries, including one of the oldest, the Charles Krug (charleskrug.com) – independent of Joseph Krug, who founded the champagne house in France – and the historic V Sattui (vsattui.com). Or simply enjoy a gourmet onboard lunch paired with the finest local wines (from £143, winetrain.com).
The Wine Trolley, a handmade replica of a retro-style California cable car, takes you to wineries across the valley, including St. Helena and Yountville (from £103, napavalleywinetrolley.com).
See the region from above on a breathtaking hot air balloon ride, glide gently over vines and between mountains (from £188 pp, napavalleyballoons.com), or take a walk on one of the many walking trails that take you through the vines or run up the mountainside (from £163pp, activewineadventures.com).
There is also the option to enjoy a spa day. There are several hot springs in the area, particularly in the charming town of Calistoga. Try the traditional spas at the Roman Spa Hot Springs Resort (romanspahotsprings.com), blessed with natural mineral pools, or enjoy the modern setting at the UpValley Inn and Hot Springs (upvalleyinn.com).
I, Ronald Payne, am a journalist and author who dedicated his life to telling the stories that need to be said. I have over 7 years of experience as a reporter and editor, covering everything from politics to business to crime.