It’s the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. If that inspires you to cross the iconic bypass from downtown San Francisco this summer, why not cruise straight to Wine Country? From Kimpton’s nine San Francisco hotels, you can get to grape-y territory in less than two hours. Which means plenty of possibilities for great day trips.
To get you started, here’s the scoop on three picturesque (and delicious) destinations.
New in Napa
Napa Valley continues to enjoy a renaissance that has brought celebrated restaurants, tasting rooms and other buzz-worthy attractions to Wine Country. Start the day in Coombsville, the area’s newest American Viticultural Area (a government-designated wine grape-growing region), where appointment-only tastings at wineries such as Sodaro Estate Winery and Marita’s Vineyard might land you a pairing of a lush cabernet with a seasonally inspired small plate. If your palate is just getting warmed up, you can also stop at Oenotri, recently featured in Food & Wine magazine as home of the country’s best Italian food. Before you make the drive back, catch live music at the 132-year-old Napa Valley Opera House or the recently renovated Uptown Theatre. Travel time from downtown San Francisco: 75 minutes one way.
For years, locals saw Carneros, the area where Napa and Sonoma meet the San Francisco Bay, as drive-through Wine Country. But in recent months, this region has blossomed into a destination unto itself. At Ram’s Gate, pony up for a tasting of earthy estate-grown pinot noir paired with lamb meatballs in mole sauce, among other dishes. Next, stroll the gardens at CornerStone, a collection of shops that happens to flaunt designs from some of the world’s finest landscape architects. Finally, have lunch at The Fremont Diner, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it roadside hamburger stand that hawks American specialties like chicken and waffles and peanut butter milkshakes. Travel time from downtown San Francisco: 60 minutes one way.
Most day-trippers to Wine Country want to do tastings quickly and tend to avoid the perceived schlep up Highway 101 to Healdsburg in northern Sonoma County. Don’t be fooled: This epicurean hotspot is well worth the drive. Fuel up in the morning at Costeaux, an authentic French bakery that peddles fresh-baked baguettes and croissants, as well as award-winning sourdough. From there, meander to Dry Creek Valley, a beautiful landscape known for zinfandels and sauvignon blancs from wineries such as Dry Creek Vineyard, Truett-Hurst, Unti Vineyards and Papapietro-Perry. End the day at Healdsburg Plaza with home-cooked pizzas and tagliatelle with rabbit Bolognese at Scopa, a local favorite. Travel time from downtown San Francisco: 100 minutes one way.
Have a great road trip! Drive responsibly – and don’t forget to take a picture of Golden Gate Bridge right before you pass over it. (We swear all the locals do it, too.)
Story by Matt Villano