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?
The Inn at Abeja is the ultimate expression of wine “country.” And a weekend here will put you on the inside track to one of Washington’s great reds. Book the Chicken House or Summer Kitchen cottage at this century-old farmstead, and get a taste of Abeja winery’s usually sold-out vintages at check-in. The next morning, you’ll be treated to breakfast in the inn’s gracious barn (the “overnight” French toast is not to be missed). Then spend the day tasting at local wineries. Info: From $235; abeja.net or 509/522-1234. Thanksgiving wine to take home: Five Star Cellars Syrah ($30). Bonus tip: Book a meal at Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen in downtown Walla Walla ($$$; closed Mon; 509/525-2112), for housemade pasta and cured meats. –SARA SCHNEIDER8. 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