Late Summer Is the Time to Hit Wine-Country
Does the thought of a winetastingweekend bring to mind that slightly tipsy feeling youget from sipping for hours at onevineyard after another? Then it'stime to give your body a workoutalong with your palate. After all, theelements that make for great grapegrowing (warm, sunny days and coolnights) are also ideal conditions forbeing outside. So try getting a tasteof the wine-country life by bike, boat,board, and more. Head to one ofthese laid-back regions known asmuch for stellar outdoor adventuresas for their vines' vintages.
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 andit's easy to see why this Pacific Coastparadise is often referred to as theAmerican Riviera. On top of endlessbeaches and a picturesque waterfront,Santa Barbara is also graced with superbwine country-immortalized in themovie Sideways-just 30 miles north.Vino made in these windswept hillsbenefits from the Pacific's coolingbreezes, and you can too. Take a refreshingjog or skate on the CabrilloBeachway, a three-mile recreation paththat runs along the downtown waterfront(go early to avoid the crowds);skate rentals are available from WheelFun Rentals ($12 for a half day; wheelfunrentals.com). This is Southern California,so it's no surprise that volleyballis a serious pastime. If you're up fora match, head to East Beach in theheart of downtown, where locals go toserve and spike. Another Golden Statediversion-surfing-is also hot here.Beginners should start with the gentlerollers at Leadbetter Beach (booka four-hour lesson through SantaBarbara Adventure Company, $110;sbadventureco.com); more seasoned surferscan gather at Rincon Point.Time to taste
It's hard to pull yourselfaway from the ocean, but the wines ofthe Santa Ynez Valley are well worthtaking a beach break. Near the townof Los Olivos, Beckmen Vineyardsproduces Syrah and Grenache, whileZaca Mesa's 750-acre estate is an idealspot for lunch-grab a seat at one ofthe picnic tables and pour yourself asplash of crisp Viognier.Book it
Hotel Andalucia, a stylishdowntown boutique hotel, has a rooftop pool (rooms from $395; andaluciasb.com). Just north of Santa Barbara, ElCapitan Canyon offers luxury campingon the coast, with fully furnished cabinsand tents (from $145; elcapitancanyon.com).
Wheel Around Town - Sonoma, California
Although Sonoma County is hometo more than 250 wineries, it retains arelaxed, small-town vibe. Vine-strewnrolling hills combined with a networkof rail-to-trail bike paths (former railroadtracks that have been turned intobike routes) and off-the-beaten-trackback roads have solidifi ed the region asa destination for cyclists as well asoenophiles. Stick close to the town of Sonomaand pedal to any of the dozen winerieslocated within a five-mile radius. Ifyou're in the mood for a longer excursion,take the Joe Rodota Trail fromSanta Rosa to Sebastopol and link to theWest County Trail; the roughly 13-mileride takes you through vineyards andfarmland. Feeling less independent?Hook up with an outfitter like GetawayAdventures for a 15- to 20-mile "Sip N Cycle" excursionthrough and aroundthe town of Healdsburg(from $125 per person; getawayadventures.com).Time to taste
Matanzas Creek is a charm-filledstop, thanks in part to itslavender fields. Ravenswoodspecializes in red zinfandel, a local classic.Book it
The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa offers luxesurroundings and a world-class spaafter a day in the saddle (rooms from$259; fairmont.com). Hotel Healdsburgserves up chic accommodations-think Frette linensand 6-foot soakingtubs-in the center oftown (rooms from $340;hotelhealdsburg.com).
Hike Historic Hills - Charlottesville, Virginia
"I do not believe that natureis so favorable togrowing vines in any othercountry as this." So saidThomas Jefferson's Italianwinemaker after surveyingthe state's landscapein 1773. Now, aftera 200-year lull, Virginia'swine industry is roaringback with more than 100wineries. Chardonnay isthe most widely planted varietal, andNorton, which yields an earthy redwine, 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'sclose to landmarks like Jefferson'sMonticello estate and about an hourdrive to Shenandoah National Park's500 miles of trails in the Blue RidgeMountains. To get to Shenandoah,take Skyline Drive, which runs 105miles along the crest of the mountains.If you go north on Skyline, you cantake one of several waterfall hikes froma trailhead near Byrd Visitor Center:Dark Hollow Falls Trail is a steep,1.4-mile round-trip trek to a 70-footwaterfall; Lewis Falls Trail, a moderate,two-mile round-trip, takes you toan 81-foot waterfall. You can alsoaccess a portion of the AppalachianTrail (AT), which traverses the park for101 miles, from the parking area nearmilepost 42. Veer off the AT ontoStony Man Trail for a 1.6-mile roundtriphike that will lead you to anawe-inspiring overlook. Time to taste
The setting for JeffersonVineyards, near Monticello, is on land once owned by the country's thirdpresident. At the Italian-inspired BarboursvilleVineyards, you can walk tothe ruins of one of only five homesdesigned by Jefferson.Book it
Boar's Head Inn is a fullservicecountry inn with a golf course,tennis court, pool, and spa (rooms from$169; boarsheadinn.com).
Go For The Extreme - Columbia Gorge Region, Oregon and Washington
Best known as an adrenaline junkie'splayground, the Gorge, an 80-mile rivercanyon that runs along the Oregon-Washington border, is also an emergingwine destination. Dozens of wineries,producing everything from chardonnayand Riesling to Syrah and zinfandel,have sprung up over the past five years,taking advantage of the silty soil andmarine air rushing through the canyon. This rugged extreme-sports mecca isalso prime territory for rafting, windsurfing,and rock climbing. Make yourbase the former lumber town of HoodRiver, Oregon, the country's windsurfingcapital. Take a lesson or just rentequipment at Hood River Waterplay(beginner lessons start at $189 for twothree-hour sessions; hoodriverwaterplay.com). If white-water rafting is moreyour speed, take a ride down Washington'sWhite Salmon River, a federallyprotected waterway fed by mountainglaciers. The eight-mile trip shoots youthrough Class III and IV rapids likeCorkscrew and Stairstep, a series of1- and 2-foot drops. At Husum Fallsyou can either get out and walk or takethe 10-foot plunge (half-day trips from$57; riverdrifters.net).Time to taste
Dry out at CathedralRidge, a lovely spot named for the ridgerunning along the summit of Mt. Hoodand 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 inthe incredible views.Book it
The million-dollar vista from thehistoric Columbia Gorge Hotel-whereWah-Gwin-Gwin Falls tumbles 207 feetto the bottom-is hard to beat (roomsfrom $199; columbiagorgehotel.com).
Kayak Vine-Rimmed Lakes - Finger Lakes, New York
Thank the Ice Age for the magnificentsetting in upstate New York. The gorges,waterfalls, and 11 bodies of water thatmake up the Finger Lakes were formedby receding glaciers. Today the area's100-plus wineries are known primarilyfor ice wines and Rieslings. Some connoisseurs have given theFinger Lakes a cool shoulder, believingthe wines can't compare to their cousinson the Pacific Coast or in Europe, butthat just means you can take advantage ofthis unspoiled country without having tobattle throngs of tourists. The two bestways to see the sights? Kayaking and hiking.Geneva, on the northern tip of SenecaLake, makes an excellent base forkayaking: Rent a boat at Roy's Marina($25 per day; roysmarina.net) and paddleup to 75 miles of vine-draped shoreline.About 35 miles from Geneva, on thesouthern edge of the lake, is WatkinsGlen State Park, where Glen Creekdescends over rocky cliffs for a mile and ahalf, generating 19 waterfalls. The GorgeTrail runs over and under the waterfalls,between rock walls, and over stonebridges, before leading up to Jacob'sLadder, a 180-step stone staircase.Time to taste
For a stunning tastingroomview, visit Lamoreaux Landing, aGreek Revival building on Seneca Lake.Shalestone Vineyards is a departurefrom many in the region, with a signout front declaring "Red is all we do."Sample the cabernet franc, merlot,or pinot noir.Book it
Geneva on the Lake is a romanticvilla on 10 landscaped acres overlookingthe lake (rooms from $197;genevaonthelake.com).