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Wine Beyond Napa

Tired of Napa’s crowds and commercialism? Escape to these lesser-known NorCal wine spots.



Solage Calistoga

The laid-back locale on Napa Valley’s north end is synonymous with spas and wellness, thanks in large part to its location atop mineral springs. Fresh off a major renovation, Solage Calistoga (rates start at $535) boasts a 20,000-square-foot-spa, which includes a geothermal pool and a modern twist on the region’s famous mud baths. The three-part “Mudslide” includes an application of mineral-enriched mud, a soak to rehydrate, and time in a sound vibration chair. On April 22–24, the property will host the third annual Calistoga Food and Wine Event, with a Grand Tasting party that Saturday.

Around town, pay a visit to Castello di Amorosa, a medieval-style castle-meets-winery. For a more low-key sip, try the excellent Cabs at Bennett Lane Winery.



Sips and Saddles

Just 12 miles from downtown San Jose, Saratoga promises beautiful foothill views along with its delicious vino. The cozy, family-run Savannah-Chanelle Vineyards, which specializes in chardonnays and pinots, feels like a slice of country, with a tasting room that looks like a mountain lodge and a picnic area surrounded by greenery.

Stay at Toll House Hotel (rooms start at $189) in nearby Los Gatos, and you can book the Sips and Saddles package ($419) for a 90-minute guided horseback ride through Cooper-Garrod Estate Vineyards. The package also includes accommodations, as well as a wine tasting and picnic at the vineyard, which doubles as an equestrian center. Giddy up!


Livermore Valley

Wente Vineyards

Some call it “the sunny side of the bay.” The area more commonly known as Tri-Valley—located 45 minutes east of the Golden Gate Bridge and comprising the towns of Danville, Pleasanton, Dublin, and Livermore—has a charming, pastoral feel.

At The Winemakers Studio, part of the family-owned Wente Vineyards, learn about the art of wine and blend your own varietal. Down the road at Wente Vineyards, lunch on duck confit toast at the upscale, on-site restaurant. The landscape is dotted with Spanish-style architecture, verdant lawns, olive trees, and the vineyard in the distance. And if you need a break from wine, follow the newly launched Tri-Valley beer trail through 16 breweries, taprooms, and restaurants in Livermore and other parts of the region.

Get another view during the April 10 Dionysus Dash 5K Wine Run through Concannon Vineyard. We’ll drink to that!

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