California wine country has been on the map of serious oenophiles since California wines beat out French wines in a blind tasting at the Paris Wine Tasting Competition of 1976. About five million visitors visit the region each year. Wine is the focus but food comes a close second with a huge choice of excellent restaurants, lots of farmers markets and culinary courses available.
You will be pleasantly surprised by the interesting pastoral and hilly vistas. Wine country is located about 1½ hours by car north of San Francisco. It encompasses Napa and Sonoma County and includes a number of small cities and towns. Best known is the city of Napa with a population of 75,000. You will also find the towns of Sonoma, St. Helena, Calistoga, Healdsburg and Santa Rosa and the hamlets of Yountville, Glen Ellen, Rutherford and Geyserville.
This is close to perfect biking country. Rural roads take you by internationally famous wineries, first class restaurants and luxurious accommodation options. The biking is easy and the distance between towns is very manageable. There are always options for hills and more miles. Drivers are for the most part very considerate.
We recommend getting one of the road maps available detailing the safest roads on which to travel. A circular route is laid out herein that loops through wine country and can include a ride to the Armstrong Redwoods Park and over to the coastal highway along Highway 101.
Seven to ten days is about the ideal amount of time to allot for this trip. A longer stay allows you to explore beyond wine country to the wild beaches of the Pacific Ocean and the giant redwoods in Armstrong Redwoods Park.
The weather is best between April and October. Summers are hot and very busy whereas winters are rainy and should be avoided altogether. Early April and late October can be unpredictable but will reward you with green hills in the spring and fall colours later in October.
Inside the California Wine Country Bike Guide look for information on:
- how to get to and from the Napa area
- detailed week long itinerary
- day by day route notes
- accommodation and restaurant suggestions
- wine tasting tips and suggestions
- location of bike rental shops
- companies offering bike tours
- useful websites and links
- packing list