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Published on : Thursday, December 3, 2015
With dozens of diverse wine regions, California wine country offers a dazzling variety of experiences to enjoy. To help visitors explore them all, Wine Institute’s California Wines Road Trips series highlights a different region each month. For December, visitors are invited to discover where to sip, stay and play in Napa Valley, located in California’s scenic North Coast region.
Napa Valley is a small region with a deservedly big reputation. Only 30 miles long and a few miles wide, Napa Valley produces just four percent of California’s winegrapes. However, in 1976, Napa wines won global recognition when they famously bested French wines in the “Judgment of Paris” tasting. Napa Valley’s world-renowned wines have found an equal match with the area’s thriving culinary scene, where visitors and locals alike enjoy a range of options, from Michelin-starred restaurants to quirky and delicious food trucks.
SIP: Napa Valley is a wine lover’s paradise. Start exploring the region’s wineries with this helpful map from the Napa Valley Vintners. Or use the discovercaliforniawines.com interactive map to search wineries by amenities such as tours, gardens, art displays, concerts and picnic areas. While tasting, it is best to pace oneself by using the spit bucket, which is considered polite, and have a designated driver or take an escorted tour.
STAY: From exclusive five-star resorts to charming little inns and even budget-friendly campgrounds, Napa Valley has accommodations to suit every traveler’s preference. Start the journey with a ramble through vineyard hideaways and B&Bs listed at Visit Napa Valley.
PLAY: Take your wine country experience to new heights with an iconic hot air balloon ride above the vineyards. Stroll through “Old West” style Calistoga, where you’ll find dining, shopping and the town’s famous thermal mud baths, a fun activity to pair with wine tasting. Napa Valley also has some 40 other spas and fitness centers to experience.
For art lovers, spend an afternoon at the di Rosa Preserve, which houses some 2,000 works of contemporary art by 800 artists. Take in the symphony or ballet at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater in Yountville. Or visit during Arts in April, when cities throughout Napa Valley feature art installations, pop-up exhibitions, live performances, tours and access to private collections.
For nightlife, find live music in many of Napa’s downtown establishments, and the Uptown Theater is a restored art deco building showcasing world-famous music and comedy acts.