The twin valleys that constitute California’s most famous wine country are, together, the second most visited attraction in the state (only Disneyland is more popular). Though they’re just an hour’s drive northeast of San Francisco, the regions’ vine-covered hillsides—lush green in spring and summer, golden in fall—are reminiscent of Tuscany, and home to nearly 400 wineries (producing mostly Chardonnay, Pinot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot varietals). You could easily spend a week here flitting among tasting rooms, but that would mean forsaking some of the area’s other sensory pleasures—which include spas, idyllic sightseeing, and some of the country’s best locally sourced cuisine.
- Getting out among the vines. Whether you rent a bicycle, take a farm tour, or join in a hands-on harvesting camp, experiencing the agriculture of wine can give you a deeper appreciation for it.
- Savoring the region’s culinary hot spots. Some of the world’s best restaurants are set unobtrusively among the grapevines here. With all the locally grown, organic, and sustainable produce grown here, even the vegetarian and fast-food options are above and beyond.
- Immersing yourself at a wine-country spa. Health and beauty sanctuaries abound here—and range from swanky vinotherapy sanctuaries to bubbling tubs of volcanic mud.