Plan a trip to Sonoma wine country

Of all California’s wine regions, Sonoma may be the easiest to fall in love with. Visit this laid-back land of vineyard-rich valleys, from Sonoma to Dry Creek to Alexander, with the Russian River thrown in

10 irresistible mini wine country escapes

10 irresistible mini escapes, from a rugged Washington valley all theway down to the Mexican border. Got a glass?

8. Calistoga, CA: Taste on two wheels

With 14 appellations and close to 400 wineries, the Napa Valley is our version of France or Italy―and best explored by bike. So pack a picnic and pedal a Bianchi on the self-guided Calistoga Cool Wine Tour through northern Napa. Calistoga Bike Shop will set you up on a customized tour that combines the most beautiful roads with six boutique wineries. They’ll even send a sag wagon to fetch any wines you want to bring home. Info: $80 per person, including bike rental and tasting fees; calistogabikeshop.com or 707/942-9687. Thanksgiving wine to take home: Envy Wines’ crisp and citrusy Sauvignon Blanc ($26). –AMY MARR

 

9. Boulder, CO: Meet locavores

Since Boulder’s been at the forefront of the eat-local movement, it’s no surprise that there’s more and more interest in drinking Colorado wines. And there’s no shortage of experts to lead you to the good ones―six Master Sommeliers are in residence here. To get in on the action, start at BookCliff Vineyards’ tasting room, which makes 100 percent Western Slope–grown wines; play winemaker at the Blending Cellar, a classy new tasting room that hosts mix-your-own-wine blend-ing sessions; and pick the perfect bottle with input from, yes, a Master Sommelier at the Boulder Wine Merchant. Info: BookCliff Vineyards (closed Tue; $5 tasting fee; bookcliffvineyards.com or 303/449-9463); the Blending Cellar (closed Mon; $12 tasting fee, $15 per blending class plus bottle fee; blendingcellar.com or 303/447-0475); the Boulder Wine Mer-chant (boulderwine.com or 303/443-6761). Thanksgiving wine to take home: BookCliff Vineyards Viognier ($16). –ELISA BOSLEY

 

10. Sonoma, CA: Take a vineyard walk

Amble up hillsides past salmon and trout streams to views of a wine valley, and you’ll come away with a new appreciation of what goes into your glass. The guided walks from Zephyr Wine Adventures are a couple of hours each day, interspersed with tastings and meals. Info: Take the five-day, four-night tour next fall (Oct 25–29, 2009; $1,900, including lodging, tasting fees, and meals). Or opt for a three-day DIY wine tour ($695, including lodging, tasting fees, guided walks, and some meals). You pick the weekend, choose three walks from a list of eight, and Zephyr arranges the rest. sonomavineyardwalks.com or 888/758-8687. Thanksgiving wine to take home: Rodney Strong Russian River Valley Estate Pinot Noir ($22). –CHRISTINE RICHARD

 

Top 10 Mini Wine Vacations

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