California

The best time to visit California’s Napa Valley is “crush” or harvest in the fall. For the best wine tasting tour of Napa, and a tour of the California coast, we recommend this wine tour of Napa, Sonoma and the California coast.

Napa is lush, beautiful and serene. We love the Napa Valley towns of Calistoga, St Helena, Rutherford and Oakville – more so than Napa proper. The entire Silverado Trail is beautiful – lined with beautiful vineyards and green farmlands in stark contrast to the surrounding arid mountains.

Far Niente Winery is by far our favorite estate – a small exclusive winery in a magnificent setting in Oakville. The estate dates back to 1780’s during the gold rush –some of the clever early miners also started making wine. The only thing that could rival their Chardonnay is their private car collection which we had the opportunity to tour.

Nickel and Nickel Winery is next, in St Helena with high end big body Cabs and the funniest tour guy Walt…who pours out the wine and gossip on the Rothschild and Mondavi families and other big name wine producers in the Napa Valley…

Another great winery is Chateau Boswell, with long dark dramatic caves underground…you could get lost in there – but you wouldn’t go thirsty.

Castello da Amarosa is the best display of lavish California wealth – an Italianate castle that took 10 years to build by Italian stone crafters is perched on a hillside in St Helena…spectacular. Enjoy the scenic grounds before the wine tasting room.

After a few days in Napa, we suggest your drive through Sonoma, visit a few more wineries, on your way to tour Monterey Peninsula…south along the dramatic Cali coast. You’ll spot seals sunning themselves on the rocks as on your coastal drive toward Pebble Beach.

The 17 mile Monterey Peninsula drive passes famous Pebble Beach, Spy Glass and Spanish Bay golf courses, its spectacular. Stop at the Lodge at Pebble Beach for a drink overlooking the famous 18th hole…splendid.

Carmel by the Sea is absolutely charming…where Clint Eastwood served as mayor…no street lamps or house numbers, the Carmelites have taken pride in their beachside community and it shows…very high end, and well healed. The Carmel homes look like something out of Hansel & Gretel –

Drive south to Big Sur, a fantastic, sometimes freaky drive along the California 1, CPH1. Lunch at the famous Post Ranch Inn, named one of the top hideaway hotels, overlooking the coast from far above – when the fog rolls in you’ll feel as if you are floating above the clouds…best crab cakes ever.

Stay at Sanctuary Beach Resort in Marina – ask for a sunset view cottage one night.

Ending in San Francisco – tour this exciting hilly city, see our top 10 attractions of San Francisco – Lombard’s curvy flower covered street, the Coit Tower, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate, Fisherman’s Wharf, into Chinatown, to Union Square, and the Cheesecake Factory on the top floor of Macy’s for dinner with a view of the city.

“Travel often to wine country, drink it all in.”