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HOTELS: WINE COUNTRY
Stay in throwback style at Dr. Wilkinson’s Hideaway Cottages in Calistoga (kitchens available).
Snag a bay view at the plush Bodega Bay Lodge and Spa.
RESTAURANTS: WINE COUNTRY
Head to Yountville, the culinary kingdom of Thomas Keller. The superchef owns several restaurants in the tiny town, including his flagship French Laundry. Keller’s more low-key eatery, Ad Hoc, serves a different menu every night. If you come on fried chicken night, that’s what you eat. And at fixed price of $48, Ad Hoc won’t send your credit card into a food coma.
Bliss out with some fudge from the Candy Cellar in Calistoga.
Down a steaming bowl of fisherman’s stew at Lucas Wharf Restaurant and Bar.
Enjoy the extensive wine list—and the food—at the Farmhouse Inn in Forestville (reservations required).
Sample the “farm-to-table” red snapper and pan-roasted rib eye at JoLe restaurant in Calistoga.
Taste wine the Bodega Bay way—served off of a surfboard—at Gourmet au Bay.
SHOPPING: WINE COUNTRY
Pick up everything from pots and pans to autographed cookbooks at Spice Islands Marketplace at the Culinary Institute of America.
Build a gourmet picnic lunch Thomas Keller would envy at Oakville Grocery.
Send home value-priced cases of your favorite wines at Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa.
CULTURAL/HISTORIC: WINE COUNTRY
Since 1952 Napa Valley travelers have soaked in mud baths at Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort. Not much has changed at the Calistoga landmark since the Eisenhower era, including the unadorned concrete tubs, the white floor tiles, and the mix of volcanic ash and peat moss that made the place famous. Sign up for “the works” ($169), which includes a mud bath soak, a quick-but-necessary shower, a soak in a low-tech Whirlpool tub, a stint in a mineral-spring-fed sauna, and a one-hour session with an experienced masseuse.
See hot springs in action at Old Faithful Geyser of California in Calistoga.
FUN STUFF: WINE COUNTRY
Billboards of limo wine-tasting tours crop up in wine country like horseweed in a vineyard. Dick Kauth of Open Air Jeep Tours scoffs at them. “Limousines don’t go into the vines,” he says. “We do.” Up to six wine tasters can fit into the back of one of Kauth’s retrofitted Jeep Wranglers for off-road explorations of boutique vineyards in Sonoma or Napa Valley. During your three-hour tour in Sonoma ($75), Kauth will point out the differences between varietals and explain why some farmers plant roses by their grapes. (The flowers can act as an early-warning system for disease.)
Take a cooking class at the Napa Valley outpost of the Culinary Institute of America. Located in Saint Helena, the cooking school’s Sophisticated Palate series limits class sizes, costs $495 per person for a day of instruction, and includes hands-on guidance from top chefs.
Sample the best of the boutique vineyards at La Dolce Vita Wine Lounge in Petaluma.
Sample and sip at Winery and Vineyard in Santa Rosa. On the small deck behind the tasting room, you can work your way through everything from chardonnay to the award-winning blend Les Trois Amis.
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