A grown-up escape
by Donnita Cagle Bassinger, CTC, MCC
Escaping for a few days to have a grown-up vacation with a romantic partner or friends is something most moms dream about.
You don’t have to be a wine lover to enjoy the gourmet restaurants, varied outdoor activities and beautiful countryside in Sonoma County and Napa Valley. This area is a hub for craft breweries so that should keep beer lovers happy. If you like to eat, this area takes farm-to-table freshness to the next level: local chefs don’t just carefully choose where their produce and meats come from, they know the farmers personally.
We are fortunate to have easy access to the Wine Country of Northern California via nonstop flights from the Eugene Airport to San Francisco and Oakland Airports which are about 75 miles away, or connecting flights into Sonoma County Airport. You will need a rental car to get around. Be aware of rush hour traffic and plan accordingly.
When to go
The most popular time to visit Wine Country is June through October as the weather and scenery are beautiful; of course, this makes it the most expensive time to visit. Summers are full of outdoor concerts, festivals and fairs.
September and October are harvest time at the wineries which have many special events. Prices and crowds will be the lowest in December, January and February as the weather is cooler and could be rainy. Spring is a nice time to visit as the natural beauty comes to life and the prices have not yet gone up for the high season. Many people consider November to be the best time to visit as the fall colors are gorgeous, the crowds are much smaller and prices go down after harvest time.
What to do
There are over 800 wineries in Napa Valley and Sonoma County of every size, shape and style. Luckily, there are many guides that can help you to choose a few to visit each day. A recent develop- ment is that most estate winery tasting rooms are appointment-only so you need to plan ahead and make some phone calls.
You can drive yourself or take a wine tour via bike, trolley, train, limo or van. Most wineries open around 10 or 11 a.m. and close around 5 p.m. This means the typical day could include morning activities such as a spa visit, horseback riding, a hike in the Redwoods, a float on the Russian River, a hot air balloon ride, a cooking class, a bike tour or a thrilling ride on a zip line. You can pick up a picnic lunch at a deli and visit a winery with a beautiful outdoor seating area. At wineries open to the public, you can have a “tasting” which is sample size servings of about five different wines. Prices for a tasting can run from about $25 to $100 depending on the winery and the tasting experience selected.
Food is a big deal in Wine Country and there are numerous gourmet restaurants to choose from. From spring through fall you can enjoy your dinner on a lovely outdoor patio followed by an evening stroll. In the town of Healdsburg, you can easily walk to the 26 different tasting rooms and enjoy their offerings without a reservation.
Where to stay
The towns of St. Helena, Healdsburg, Yountville, Sonoma and Napa have quaint downtown areas with restaurants, tasting rooms, shopping and a variety of accommodations. You can stay in small, boutique inns or larger, luxurious hotels with spas and award-winning restaurants. These hotels can be quite expensive, especially during the summer. There are some chain hotels with more reasonable rates during the off-season. Reservations for hotels and the more popular restaurants need to be made at least a few months in advance for travel during high season.
A trip to the Northern California Wine Country is the perfect way to spend a few days reconnecting with a loved one or friends. Now is the time to stop dreaming and make it happen — you’ll be glad you did!
Airlines serving the Eugene Airport
AlaskaAir.com Connecting flights to Santa Rosa, Oakland and SFO
Allegiantair.com Non-stop to Oakland twice a week
AA.com Connecting flights to Oakland and SFO
Delta.com Connecting flights to Oakland and SFO
Southwest.com Non-stop to Oakland
United.com Non-stop to SFO
Meet Vacation MOM Vacation MOM is brought to you in partnership with Eugene Airport
Donnita Bassinger is a mom of three, and she lives in Eugene with her husband where she is active in Scouting, school PTOs and local charities. Donnita has been a travel agent for 30 years and always loves visiting Wine Country. She is the owner of VIP Vacations, Inc and would be happy to chat with you about your travel plans.
Contact Donnita at 541-913-5272 or on facebook @VacationMOM