As spring turns to summer, our thoughts turn more and more to frolicking outdoors. Yet spring and fall offer a magic of their own, as the sun goes down earlier in the day while temperatures remain warm enough that snuggling on a patio is still a wonderful idea.
Bonus: we can savor sunsets at wineries, sipping a glorious glass around 5 p.m. as the sun slips into the horizon (do remember that Wine Country evenings can turn chilly as soon as night drops, so remember to bring jackets, or plan on cuddling even closer with your sweetie).
Paradise Ridge Winery, Santa Rosa
Toast the brilliant reds, golds, oranges and pinks of the fiery star from the expansive veranda and poetry terrace at this hillside estate. The views leading to sunset are gorgeous year-round, overlooking vineyards leading to the Marijke’s Grove outdoor sculpture gallery. But on Wednesday evenings from mid-May to mid-October, 6 p.m. to sunset, the winery hosts and official Wines & Sunsets party, featuring local food vendors and popular live music bands in addition to the wines from the Russian River Valley and the Rockpile Viticultural Area. One top purveyor is Rosso Pizzeria, offering tableside service for wood-fired pies, flatbreads and salads.
4545 Thomas Lake Harris Drive, Santa Rosa, 707-528-9463, prwinery.com.
Kunde Family Estate, Kenwood
Spanning 1,850 acres, the high elevation site is the most dramatic draw, offering breathtaking views of Sonoma Valley and the Mayacamas Mountain range. The Mountain Top tasting is perhaps the most spectacular, hosted 1,400 feet above the valley floor on a rocky terrain that has been transformed into a lovely shaded tasting deck overlooking the family’s fifth-generation farmed vineyard estate.
9825 Sonoma Hwy., Kenwood, 707-833-5501, kunde.com.
Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Geyserville
Whether on enormous swimming pool patio of the winery or on the Rustic restaurant patio next to the tasting room, there are vineyard views at this winery resort property from one of Hollywood's famous writers and directors. The sun sets over the gentle rolling hills of the Alexander Valley, while you sip from a huge list of wines and perhaps add in an Italian style hors d’oeuvres or two. Often, there’s live music, too.
300 Via Archimedes, Geyserville, 707-857-1485, francisfordcoppolawinery.com.
Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards, Sonoma
The Vista Terrace reigns over the picturesque Carneros region at the southern end of the Sonoma Valley, taking in sun-drenched estate vineyards... nice, but even better when you’re sipping a glass of sparkling wine, and nibbling the option pairings of savory Spanish and local cheeses and meats.
23555 Highway 121, Sonoma, 707-933-1917, gloriaferrer.com.
CADE, Angwin (Napa Valley)
Views from the sleek contemporary terrace stretch across the Napa valley floor all the way to the Mayacamas Mountain range and as far south as Mt. Diablo. You can view the seasons from the carved stone seats flanking a skinny rectangular pond on the mountain’s edge, or nestle behind the iron pit fireplaces. Yes, it’s a posh experience (reservations only) but the spectacular setting will make you feel like the richest person on earth.
360 Howell Mountain Road South, Angwin, 707-965-2746, cadewinery.com.
Tip: Sunset leads into dinner, and a night on the town… make it more spectacular with a private limo or Town Car from Pure Luxury Transportation.