The coastal drive along Highway 1, just north of San Francisco to Eureka, is breathtaking with numerous beaches, rugged cliffs, towering trees, sheep quietly grazing and cattle that own the land and are seen freely roaming meadows and crossing roads. Quaint villages like Mendocino, a New England style town, dot the route with ocean-front lodging, restaurants and pubs, as well as attractions like Muir Woods, the Russian River, and the Avenue of the Giants with stately tall redwoods.
Inland, nestled in the heart of wine country, is Sonoma. A jewel of a town, Sonoma is the birthplace of the California wine industry. Wineries of all sizes host tastings for a nominal fee. We even sampled a syrah from a private barrel with wonderful flavor. We were told that the wine barrels – made of French, Hungarian and American Oak – are used for about two years, then shipped to Tennessee to be used in the whisky industry, or cut up and sold as planters. There are two cheese factories in town with the perfect accompaniments for that bottle (or case) of wine.
Not far from Sonoma, the Napa Valley is a patchwork of vineyards on rolling hills. The city of Napa is a perfect place to stroll, after a cup of hot chocolate at Starbucks on the corner of First and Main, or a glass of highly acclaimed wine from one of Napa’s fine wine bars or tasting rooms. Especially enjoyable is the Riverfront with a beautiful mosaic on the historic Napa Mill and several exhibits from the Western US artists who participated in the Napa Art Walk.
We packed the most into two short days and would love to return for more SIPPING, SHOPPING, SAVORING AND STROLLING.