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Late Summer Is the Time to Hit Wine-Country

Does the thought of a winetasting
weekend bring to mind that slightly tipsy feeling you
get from sipping for hours at one
vineyard after another? Then it's
time to give your body a workout
along with your palate. After all, the
elements that make for great grape
growing (warm, sunny days and cool
nights) are also ideal conditions for
being outside. So try getting a taste
of the wine-country life by bike, boat,
board, and more. Head to one of
these laid-back regions known as
much for stellar outdoor adventures
as for their vines' vintages.

Bed down in a furnished tent at El Capitan Canyon

Skate, Surf, and Sip - Santa Barbara, California

White sands, pounding surf, palm trees,
and wine? It sounds too good to be true.
But spend a day in Santa Barbara and
it's easy to see why this Pacific Coast
paradise is often referred to as the
American Riviera. On top of endless
beaches and a picturesque waterfront,
Santa Barbara is also graced with superb
wine country-immortalized in the
movie Sideways-just 30 miles north.

Vino made in these windswept hills
benefits from the Pacific's cooling
breezes, and you can too. Take a refreshing
jog or skate on the Cabrillo
Beachway, a three-mile recreation path
that runs along the downtown waterfront
(go early to avoid the crowds);
skate rentals are available from Wheel
Fun Rentals ($12 for a half day; wheelfunrentals.com). This is Southern California,
so it's no surprise that volleyball
is a serious pastime. If you're up for
a match, head to East Beach in the
heart of downtown, where locals go to
serve and spike. Another Golden State
diversion-surfing-is also hot here.
Beginners should start with the gentle
rollers at Leadbetter Beach (book
a four-hour lesson through Santa
Barbara Adventure Company, $110;
sbadventureco.com); more seasoned surfers
can gather at Rincon Point.

Time to taste
It's hard to pull yourself
away from the ocean, but the wines of
the Santa Ynez Valley are well worth
taking a beach break. Near the town
of Los Olivos, Beckmen Vineyards
produces Syrah and Grenache, while
Zaca Mesa's 750-acre estate is an ideal
spot for lunch-grab a seat at one of
the picnic tables and pour yourself a
splash of crisp Viognier.

Book it
Hotel Andalucia, a stylish
downtown boutique hotel, has a rooftop pool (rooms from $395; andaluciasb.com). Just north of Santa Barbara, El
Capitan Canyon offers luxury camping
on the coast, with fully furnished cabins
and tents (from $145; elcapitancanyon.com).

 

 

 

 

Got wine? Grapes cover almost 64,000 acres in Sonoma

Wheel Around Town - Sonoma, California

Although Sonoma County is home
to more than 250 wineries, it retains a
relaxed, small-town vibe. Vine-strewn
rolling hills combined with a network
of rail-to-trail bike paths (former railroad
tracks that have been turned into
bike routes) and off-the-beaten-track
back roads have solidifi ed the region as
a destination for cyclists as well as
oenophiles.

Stick close to the town of Sonoma
and pedal to any of the dozen wineries
located within a five-mile radius. If
you're in the mood for a longer excursion,
take the Joe Rodota Trail from
Santa Rosa to Sebastopol and link to the
West County Trail; the roughly 13-mile
ride takes you through vineyards and
farmland. Feeling less independent?
Hook up with an outfitter like Getaway
Adventures for a 15- to 20-
mile "Sip N Cycle" excursion
through and around
the town of Healdsburg
(from $125 per person;
getawayadventures.com).

Time to taste

Matanzas Creek is a charm-filled
stop, thanks in part to its
lavender fields. Ravenswood
specializes in red zinfandel, a local classic.

Book it

The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa offers luxe
surroundings and a world-class spa
after a day in the saddle (rooms from
$259; fairmont.com). Hotel Healdsburg
serves up chic accommodations-
think Frette linens
and 6-foot soaking
tubs-in the center of
town (rooms from $340;
hotelhealdsburg.com).

Hike Historic Hills - Charlottesville, Virginia

"I do not believe that nature
is so favorable to
growing vines in any other
country as this." So said
Thomas Jefferson's Italian
winemaker after surveying
the state's landscape
in 1773. Now, after
a 200-year lull, Virginia's
wine industry is roaring
back with more than 100
wineries. Chardonnay is
the most widely planted varietal, and
Norton, which yields an earthy red
wine, is Virginia's native grape.

For the easiest access to wine, history,
and local trails, stay in Charlottesville,
in the center of the state. It's
close to landmarks like Jefferson's
Monticello estate and about an hour
drive to Shenandoah National Park's
500 miles of trails in the Blue Ridge
Mountains. To get to Shenandoah,
take Skyline Drive, which runs 105
miles along the crest of the mountains.
If you go north on Skyline, you can
take one of several waterfall hikes from
a trailhead near Byrd Visitor Center:
Dark Hollow Falls Trail is a steep,
1.4-mile round-trip trek to a 70-foot
waterfall; Lewis Falls Trail, a moderate,
two-mile round-trip, takes you to
an 81-foot waterfall. You can also
access a portion of the Appalachian
Trail (AT), which traverses the park for
101 miles, from the parking area near
milepost 42. Veer off the AT onto
Stony Man Trail for a 1.6-mile roundtrip
hike that will lead you to an
awe-inspiring overlook.

Time to taste

The setting for Jefferson
Vineyards, near Monticello, is on land once owned by the country's third
president. At the Italian-inspired Barboursville
Vineyards, you can walk to
the ruins of one of only five homes
designed by Jefferson.

Book it
Boar's Head Inn is a fullservice
country inn with a golf course,
tennis court, pool, and spa (rooms from
$169; boarsheadinn.com).

 

 

 

 

Summer in the Gorge can bring 40 mph winds

Go For The Extreme - Columbia Gorge Region, Oregon and Washington

Best known as an adrenaline junkie's
playground, the Gorge, an 80-mile river
canyon that runs along the Oregon-
Washington border, is also an emerging
wine destination. Dozens of wineries,
producing everything from chardonnay
and Riesling to Syrah and zinfandel,
have sprung up over the past five years,
taking advantage of the silty soil and
marine air rushing through the canyon.

This rugged extreme-sports mecca is
also prime territory for rafting, windsurfing,
and rock climbing. Make your
base the former lumber town of Hood
River, Oregon, the country's windsurfing
capital. Take a lesson or just rent
equipment at Hood River Waterplay
(beginner lessons start at $189 for two
three-hour sessions; hoodriverwaterplay.com). If white-water rafting is more
your speed, take a ride down Washington's
White Salmon River, a federally
protected waterway fed by mountain
glaciers. The eight-mile trip shoots you
through Class III and IV rapids like
Corkscrew and Stairstep, a series of
1- and 2-foot drops. At Husum Falls
you can either get out and walk or take
the 10-foot plunge (half-day trips from
$57; riverdrifters.net).

Time to taste
Dry out at Cathedral
Ridge, a lovely spot named for the ridge
running along the summit of Mt. Hood
and one of the region's earliest wineries.
On the Washington side of the Gorge,
sip Wind River Cellars' pinot gris,
Syrah, and Tempranillo, and drink in
the incredible views.

Book it
The million-dollar vista from the
historic Columbia Gorge Hotel-where
Wah-Gwin-Gwin Falls tumbles 207 feet
to the bottom-is hard to beat (rooms
from $199; columbiagorgehotel.com).

It's only 180 steps to the top of Jacob's Ladder in the Finger Lakes

Kayak Vine-Rimmed Lakes - Finger Lakes, New York

Thank the Ice Age for the magnificent
setting in upstate New York. The gorges,
waterfalls, and 11 bodies of water that
make up the Finger Lakes were formed
by receding glaciers. Today the area's
100-plus wineries are known primarily
for ice wines and Rieslings.

Some connoisseurs have given the
Finger Lakes a cool shoulder, believing
the wines can't compare to their cousins
on the Pacific Coast or in Europe, but
that just means you can take advantage of
this unspoiled country without having to
battle throngs of tourists. The two best
ways to see the sights? Kayaking and hiking.
Geneva, on the northern tip of Seneca
Lake, makes an excellent base for
kayaking: Rent a boat at Roy's Marina
($25 per day; roysmarina.net) and paddle
up to 75 miles of vine-draped shoreline.
About 35 miles from Geneva, on the
southern edge of the lake, is Watkins
Glen State Park, where Glen Creek
descends over rocky cliffs for a mile and a
half, generating 19 waterfalls. The Gorge
Trail runs over and under the waterfalls,
between rock walls, and over stone
bridges, before leading up to Jacob's
Ladder, a 180-step stone staircase.

Time to taste
For a stunning tastingroom
view, visit Lamoreaux Landing, a
Greek Revival building on Seneca Lake.
Shalestone Vineyards is a departure
from many in the region, with a sign
out front declaring "Red is all we do."
Sample the cabernet franc, merlot,
or pinot noir.

Book it
Geneva on the Lake is a romantic
villa on 10 landscaped acres overlooking
the lake (rooms from $197;
genevaonthelake.com).

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