Chip, Sip and Cycle Extraordinary Napa Valley

5 Reasons to Go Play Northern California Right Now

Ever since I watched the breakthrough comedy “Sideways”, I’ve been itching to mix three of my favorite pastimes—golf, biking and wine—into a road trip to California’s famed Napa Valley.

What is there to see and do? Here are five can’t miss suggestions:

1. Feast Fabulously. Napa has a considerable share of Zagat-ranked chefs and sommeliers, and where better to sample those extraordinary fêtes than at the Masters & Makers @ Meritage, a three-day festival of food and wine hosted by Meritage Resort & Spa. Scheduled Feb. 13-15, the event will include wine tastings, seminars and fine dining.

2. Wine Down. Napa Valley is America’s main wine growing region, boasting around 400 wineries including celebrated labels like Clos du Val, Beringer, Domaine Chandon, Robert Mondavi, Inglenook and others. There are also many hidden boutique wineries that are much less crowded, like Amizetta, Buehler and Chappellet (pictured at top). Go by car, chauffeured limousine or by tour van, but don’t miss bringing home a bottle or two from a distinguished valley vintner.

3. Free-Wheel It. Napa’s Russian River and Santa Barbara wine countries are world renowned for their bicycle-friendly back roads and panoramas. The region’s many historic towns—including Healdsburg, Calistoga and St. Helena—offer scores of bike shops that cater to virtually every need, including guided sip-and-cycle sojourns to several wineries. Travel tip: Ride midmorning—after the morning rush hour and before most of the wine tasting rooms open at 10 a.m.

4. Go Out Swinging. Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa is perhaps the region’s most illustrious golf destination, featuring an historic 36-hole test that, in addition to being recently redesigned by Johnny Miller, plays host to the PGA Tour’s Open this October. Guests staying at Meritage Resort and Spa have nearby playing privileges at highly rated Chardonnay and Eagle Vines golf clubs.

5. Get Dirty. In Calistoga at the Golden Haven Hot Springs Spa & Resort, guests are pampered and pleasured with naturally heated, full-immersion mud baths that promise to renew and rejuvenate the mind, body and soul. Even more appealing is the resort’s signature Calistoga Couples Mud Baths, which encourage couples to share this unforgettable experience together.


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Chris Duthie is a contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer, the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via