With such exceptionally splendid, cool Wine Country weather this summer, there’s even more reason to lace up those hiking boots and explore the great outdoors. And who can fault us if we grin a bit at our luck, thinking about how jealous people in hot parts of the country will be… especially when they discover we’re hiking at a winery.
Yes, a winery. Trekking is the new fashion at sprawling estates, and why not? Besides enjoying the beautiful settings, and doing something great for our health, we're motivated knowing a wine tasting awaits at the end.
Sonoma County Vineyard Adventures
This program encourages you to enjoy no-appointment, complimentary, self-guided vineyard tours, at many top wineries like Matanzas Creek Winery with expansive lavender fields, and the 156-acre Paradise Ridge Winery celebrated for its stunning sculpture garden. Just show up, grab a map, follow the signs, and explore.
Alexander Valley Vineyards
This is a hike you can enjoy year-round (weather permitting). Just make your reservation, show up at 10:30 a.m., and off you go for a guided ($50) walkabout around the Healdsburg estate. The trails stretch from the banks of the Russian River all the way up onto the hillsides, and don’t worry about the gentle elevation rise – your guide offers you tastes of wines along the way, pausing in the vineyards where the very grapes are grown for sips like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Merlot. Savor more wine at the finish, and tuck into a box lunch, too, with eight gourmet sandwich choices. // 8644 Highway 128, Healdsburg, (707) 433-7209, avvwine.com.
Bartholomew Park Winery
Start with a wine tasting in the historic winery, then stop in at the museum detailing the fascinating history of grape-growing in Sonoma. Next, lay out a picnic blanket on the lawns of the adjacent Bartholomew Park, perhaps in the shade of the replica of pioneer winemaker Agoston Haraszthy’s Palladian Villa (the original was destroyed by fire around the turn of the century). Fueled up, you can now saunter the 400-acre Bartholomew Memorial Park – the meadow-to-mountain three-mile trail is a favorite. // 1000 Vineyard Lane, Sonoma (707) 938-2244, bartpark.com.
Kunde Family Estate Winery
Got plans for October 1, and October 16? You do now, for these by-reservation hikes led by fourth-generation winegrower Jeff Kunde, longtime Kunde staffer John Hardman, or Sonoma Valley docent and state/regional parks expert Bill Myers. The treks aren’t for wimps, as the cross the 1,850-acre estate framed by the Mayacamas Mountains – plan on four hours round-trip. You’ll learn about the distinct ecosystems and native habitats around you, and sip wines next to the vines. If you reserve the Jeff Kunde hike ($60), you get extra guides: Kunde’s dogs and companion hikers Cooper and Marley. That hike also includes a Wine Country lunch, with a portion of the fee donated to Canine Companions and the Sonoma County Humane Society. // 9825 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood, 707-833-5501, kunde.com.
Jordan Vineyard & Winery
It happens just twice a year, and the next date is Saturday, November 5, for the insider’s hike ($75) across the private 1,200-acre Healdsburg estate. Get in gear with a continental breakfast at Vista Point, the property’s highest hilltop boasting a sweeping panorama of multiple wine regions and mountain ranges. Next, you’ll traverse four miles of hills and valleys, through natural wildlife habitat, sustainably farmed vineyards and olive orchards, pausing to admire the lakes, the cattle ranch and chef's garden. The finale brings charcuterie and Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay wines at the Winery Chateau. // 1474 Alexander Valley Road, Healdsburg, 800-654-1213, jordanwinery.com.
Seghesio Family Vineyards
Mark your calendar for September 10 or October 15, when Seghesio family members/4th and 5th generation vineyard managers Jim and Ned Neumiller take you on an adventure through 120 year-old-vines ($75). Clamber up to the top of Rattlesnake Hill on the 1895 Home Ranch estate ($75), sip wine along the way, then relax over a wine-paired lunch at a scenic perch overlooking Alexander Valley. // 24035 Chianti Road, Cloverdale, (707) 433-3579, seghesio.com.
Tip: Take a green entrance to your hike, by hiring a private limo or Town Car for door-to-door service. Pure Luxury Transportation is a leader in environmental responsibility. As members of Green Ride Global™, Pure Luxury has committed to GHG emissions reductions from all areas of the company’s business operations of 20 percent over the next 5 years.