Travel: December 2009 Archives

Driving Range - Three Wine Country Road Trips

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By Sarah Sung

The slightly more adventurous first cousin to the staycation, the road trip lets you unwind while enjoying the best of travel: exploring unknown territory. What better destination than Wine Country, where you can go from wineries to restaurants to hotels--with the freedom to pull off for a hike, bike ride, picnic, or to sit still and simply take in the scenery?

Drive One: Napa
Taking the high road through Napa.

Just an hour from San Francisco is the di Rosa, where art and nature come together. Make a reservation to tour the collection. It consists of 2,000 works of art--showcasing about half that number at any given moment--and is among the largest collections of Bay Area artists in the world. The first hint that you're coming up on the 217-acre preserve will be the sheep metal sculptures on the hillside. Once a private residence, this preserve is now a nonprofit public trust, with a collection so prominent that you'll see pieces from it at the Whitney and Getty museums.
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2009 Napa Valley Holiday Openings

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Napa Valley will still be bustling with activity through the holidays. Several restaurants and a few wineries will be open Christmas Eve.  Only a handful will be open on Christmas Day, so plan accordingly. Celebrate New Year's Eve wine country style - gourmet dinners, wine tasting, and dancing to ring in the new year.

Find out what's happening on the Napa Valley Events Calendar.

Farm-Fresh Elegance

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barn.jpgThe Russian River Valley's rustic Farmhouse Inn has become a destination that will make you want to stay.


By Martha Ross

The artfully prepared dinners at the Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant have always been reason enough to visit. But, these days, you might want to book a room for the night. The inn, nestled amid redwoods in the Russian River Valley, has added eight rustically elegant, light-filled rooms and suites in its new "Barn." The new rooms feature private decks, fireplaces, and luxurious baths.

The Barn follows in the tradition of the inn by paying tribute to the property's agricultural past. The main house, a yellow 1873 structure, was originally home to a family that worked the land. The inn's current owners, brother and sister Joe and Catherine Bartolomei, descend from another Russian River family that raised cattle, fruit trees, and wine grapes.

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Head Outdoors this Fall and Winter

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hikes_3.jpgExperience the beauty of Napa on group hikes organized by the Land Trust of Napa County.

Visit some of the most beautiful places in Napa with the folks who work to preserve it: the Land Trust of Napa County. A Land Trust volunteer leads each hike, which is guaranteed to be a trek worth taking.

January 3: Hike Calistoga's Triple Crown
Conquer the historic Oat Hill Mine Road and the Palisades and Table Rock trails on this super-challenging 11-mile hike.

February 6: Mount George Waterfall Hike
For wildflower lovers and those not afraid of a steep five-mile climb.

February 20: First Falls at Archer Taylor Preserve
A photographer's paradise. Take a moderate two-mile walk along Redwood Creek, and enjoy lunch in a grove of towering redwoods.

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xmastreewinetrail.jpegYour local Santa Cruz Mountains tree farms and wineries want to make it easier for you to do your holiday shopping without the crowds and parking hassles of those germ factories better known as Malls! Do your shopping in the great outdoors, filled with scenery and greenery, and great local wine. Come cut a Christmas tree, buy some wine, and enjoy lunch with a view.

Just minutes from downtown Los Gatos off highway 17, the Summit Road tree farms and wineries have created a "Christmas tree wine trail" for your holiday shopping pleasure. Select a holiday tree (or wreath) at one of the local tree farms, including Radonich Ranch, Frosty's Tree Farm and Patchen Christmas Tree Farm (two locations: on Old Summit Road & Melody Lane and on Old Santa Cruz Highway). Then, head to the participating wineries: Burrell School Vineyards. Generosa, Hunter Hill, Loma Prieta, Poetic Cellars, Regale and Vine Hill, for great local wine and unique gift ideas. Receive one free ornament per winery with a purchase of wine. Collect them all for a very festive tree, and purchase extra ornaments as stocking stuffers to accompany your very thoughtful gifts of wine. Don't forget those hostess gifts. What is better than a bottle of local wine that you personally hand-selected? Each winery has custom gift tags to make gift-giving simple and special.

Off The Beaten Track in Glen Ellen

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chocolateshop.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Glen Ellen is just far enough off the main highway to ensure that its visitors and residents really want to be there. Although only a twenty minute drive from downtown Sonoma, it feels like another world entirely, with rustic country lanes, minimal development, and fantastic owner-operated businesses making the most of the area's appeal. Here are just a few suggestions for things to do (besides visit wineries, of course!) that hit on three of Glen Ellen's main draws:

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