Napa Valley, California -- Wine Country
No visit to California is complete without a trip to Napa Valley. Most of the great wines produced in the United States come from this valley. Oenophiles (wine lovers) flock to the valley in the summer and fall to enjoy the wine tastings at wineries throughout Napa. Although the peak tourist seasons are summer and fall, the mild climate makes it a great year-round destination.
Napa Valley's most renowned activities are the winery tours and tastings. When planning a trip to Napa, be sure to do a little research, so you can carefully choose the wineries you would like to visit. Each of the five towns spread across Napa Valley has unique wineries. At the northern end of the valley, near Calistoga, you can visit Castello di Amorosa to enjoy the Tuscan style winery and taste the Italian style wines. The world class Chateau Montelena Winery is also near Calistoga. Beringer Vineyards, near St. Helena, is the oldest continually operating winery.
Farther north along the valley is the Robert Mondavi Winery, or the Grgich Hills Estate, where they produce wines from organically and biodynamically grown grapes. Both of these wineries are close to the towns of Oakville and Rutherford. Also in this area, if you are looking for a wine tasting that is a little different, you can take a tour of the Rutherford Hill Winery which has one of America's most extensive wine-aging cave systems.
In addition to wine tasting, Napa Valley also has many fine dining opportunities. Yountville, California is home to the fabulous French Laundry. This restaurant provides a unique combination of seasonal American ingredients with a French inspiration. Another unique dining experience is the Napa Valley Wine Train. You can reserve a seat on this antique train that travels through Napa Valley on 25 miles of track. In the dining cars, enjoy amazing wines and foods created with seasonal ingredients.
Napa Valley has much more than delicious foods and wines to offer its visitors. You can take a hot air balloon tour over the valley and enjoy a champagne brunch as you marvel at the spectacular views. Bike tours are popular, and Mt. St. Helena has great hiking trails. If you hike the five miles to the mountaintop you will be rewarded by spectacular vistas and you may even see the peak of Mt. Shasta. Robert Louis Stevenson State Park showcases much of the beauty that the Napa Valley area has to offer.
Make sure you leave some time to explore the local towns. In addition to the world-class wines, you will also find many interesting boutiques and art galleries. St. Helena is also home to the Silverado Museum, which features exhibits about Robert Louis Stevenson. If you are looking to pamper yourself, stop for a day in Calistoga, famous for its hot springs, mud baths, and spas.
No matter what you choose to explore in Napa Valley, you are guaranteed to have an amazing vacation. Immerse yourself in the culture of America's premiere wine country. Exult in the beauty of California. Make sure you take some time for yourself during your vacation. Get away from it all in the fabulous Napa Valley.