California: The Wine Country

Self-Guided Walking Tour, California: The Wine CountrySelf-Guided Walking Tour, California: The Wine Country

California

The Wine Country

overview

Walking among golden-green grapevines as morning sunlight chases away the mist, you’ll encounter what makes Napa Valley and Sonoma so special. Here, the gentle sophistication of Northern California blends perfectly with the natural beauty of the American West. Like a fine glass of cabernet sauvignon, it’s yours to savor at your leisure. Arming yourself with a picnic basket of local specialties (we’ll even provide you one), you’ll experience the full glory of Wine Country: towering groves of redwoods, historic remnants of frontier towns, renowned vineyards, modern tasting rooms, and the brick and clapboard charm of gallery-packed towns. Walk the Overlook Trail, with its scenic views of Sonoma County and the distant sapphire of San Pablo Bay. Wander the gardens of Buena Vista Winery—the oldest in the region. Stay in cozy, boutique hotels and choose from among some of the world’s top restaurants for dinner. Along the way, don’t forget the wine: each full day of walking includes a wine tasting at one of the finest wineries in the region.

Activity Level
Easy to
Moderate; 4-6.5
miles daily
Meet
St. Helena, California
Depart
Glen Ellen, California
Daily Itinerary
Download printable
itinerary
Reading List
Recommended
pre-trip reading
Self-Guided Walking 
6 days, 5 nights Trip Includes 

Trip Includes

  • Three breakfasts (days 2, 3, and 6), one lunch (day 4); beverages not included
  • Four winery tours and tastings (days 2, 3, 4, and 5)
  • All accommodations while on tour
  • Local transfers as noted in the itinerary
  • Luggage transfers between the hotels
  • Detailed route notes and maps
  • Basic travel insurance coverage
  • 24-hour emergency service
  • The unbeatable and cumulative experience of the CW Adventures staff
Compare Dates & Prices
Prices Starting from...
Season
2+ travelers
Single Supplement
Solo Surcharge
2014
Sept 1 - Nov 30
$1,948
$975
$225
2015
March 1 - 30
$1,598
$745
$245
April 1 - Nov 30
$1,998
$995
$245

*Price is based on per person, double occupancy.

Number of Travelers
Total in your party
Price From
per person double occupancy

Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

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Itinerary and Accommodations

Days
Destination
1
St. Helena
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2
St. Helena
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3
Sonoma
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4
Sonoma
View on map
5
Glen Ellen
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6
Glen Ellen
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Day 1

St. Helena

Arrival at St. Helena

Your tour starts in the Napa Valley and the historical town of St. Helena. The heart of this wine-making county, St. Helena has a small-town feel, with a sophisticated side befitting its place in American wine-making history. Your hotel is within walking distance of the town’s many enticing shops and galleries, wine-tasting rooms, coffee shops, and bakeries. Just over a mile from your hotel is Greystone, the castle-like former Christian Brothers Monastery that now houses one of the Culinary Institute of America’s campuses. In addition to restaurants and a café, it has a fully stocked culinary marketplace shop with a flavor bar for food and olive oil tastings. After getting acquainted with the town, you may choose to relax in your hotel’s pool and spa before enjoying one of the many nearby fine restaurants.

Southbridge Napa Valley

St. Helena, California

Ideally located in the heart of historical St. Helena, this welcoming hotel boasts spacious rooms with vaulted ceilings and fireplaces, small “Juliet” balconies overlooking the courtyard, spa, or hillsides, and classic décor and furnishings. A full-service spa and fitness center is on site. Within walking distance of the town with its many shops, restaurants, and cafés, the hotel also offers complimentary car service to its sister property, The Restaurant at Meadowood (reservations required)—recipient of three Michelin stars (one of only two restaurants with this rating west of Chicago!).St. Helena

Day 2

St. Helena

Bothe State Park to Schramsberg Vineyards; 4 miles, easy to moderate, 800-ft. elevation gain and loss

Today’s walk takes you on trails through state parks and on to the famous Schramsberg Vineyards. Your first priority, of course, is to pick up your packed lunch from a local purveyor. A transfer takes you to beautiful Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park and the Bothe State Park, a large natural area encompassing stands of coastal redwood trees along its valley floors, as well as Douglas fir and madrone. The trail starts at the Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park, which is the site of a protected grist mill, dating from the mid-19th century and used for grinding wheat and corn into flour into the early 1900s (milling demonstrations on Saturdays and Sundays). The path then winds into Bothe State Park. Making your way through oak and redwood chaparral, you find a perfect picnic spot along the banks of a creek. The trail finally leads you to the back gate of Schramsberg Vineyards, in time for a 2:30 p.m. tour of their cellars and tasting of their excellent sparkling wines. Transportation is provided from the vineyard back to your hotel in St. Helena.

Southbridge Napa Valley

St. Helena, California

Ideally located in the heart of historical St. Helena, this welcoming hotel boasts spacious rooms with vaulted ceilings and fireplaces, small “Juliet” balconies overlooking the courtyard, spa, or hillsides, and classic décor and furnishings. A full-service spa and fitness center is on site. Within walking distance of the town with its many shops, restaurants, and cafés, the hotel also offers complimentary car service to its sister property, The Restaurant at Meadowood (reservations required)—recipient of three Michelin stars (one of only two restaurants with this rating west of Chicago!).St. Helena

Day 3

Sonoma

Sonoma overlook to Sebastiani Winery; 5 miles, easy to moderate, 500-ft. elevation gain and loss

This morning, you leave the Napa Valley and travel by private transfer about 45 minutes to the heart of the Sonoma Valley—the historical Sonoma Plaza in the center of the town, where you can purchase delicacies for your picnic lunch. The site of the northernmost of California’s 21 missions, and the last to be constructed in 1823, in the 19th century this town (or pueblo) was a fascinating interface of native tribes, Mexican rule, Russian settlement, and American immigrants. A National Historic Landmark, the vast eight-acre plaza was designed as the focal point of the original Mexican “Pueblo de Sonoma.” Your walk begins and ends here, as you start out on the Overlook Trail—which, as its name describes, overlooks the entire Sonoma Valley all the way to San Pablo Bay, the northernmost tidal estuary of San Francisco Bay. You can find a perfect spot to enjoy your packed lunch on the Overlook before you descend into the valley and walk to the historical Sebastiani Winery for a pairing of wine and local artisan cheese. From here, you can comfortably walk back to the Sonoma Plaza and your perfectly situated hotel—and enjoy a dip in the pool and a glass of wine from your balcony room or the hotel’s bar.

El Dorado Hotel

Sonoma, California

A contemporary boutique hotel on Sonoma Plaza, fabulously situated among art galleries, wine-tasting rooms, and cafés. Spacious luminous rooms have modern décor with French doors opening onto a private balcony with views of either the plaza or garden courtyard. An outdoor swimming pool, heated from May to October, has private cabanas and daybeds for relaxing. The restaurant sources local produce for its sophisticated cuisine, and serves in a warm main dining room, the garden courtyard, or fireplace lounge. Steps from the hotel are the numerous historical buildings surrounding Sonoma Plaza—a National Historic Landmark.

Day 4

Sonoma

Bartholomew Park to Buena Vista Winery; 6.5 miles, easy to moderate, 500-ft. elevation gain and loss

You walk from your hotel this morning to lovely Bartholomew Park, with its network of trails through manicured grounds and vineyards, and past a reconstructed 19th-century villa. Originally founded by Hungarian immigrants— exiled heirs to the Habsburg throne—in 1861, the vineyard is a microcosm of the region’s boom, bust, and boom wine history: from its start, through the phylloxera blight of the late 1860s, to its 20th-century resurgence and success. You loop around to join the trails above the property, and return to walk past its gardens, ending at Buena Vista Winery—the oldest winery in Sonoma and Napa, founded in 1857 by an eccentric Hungarian count who sought the perfect terroir in the New World. Recently refurbished to its original beauty, the winery’s beautiful old stone walls provide a lovely setting for you enjoy a wine-country picnic hamper and tasting. After lunch, you make your way back on foot to the Plaza, through the elegant East Side of Sonoma with its heritage homes. You have time this afternoon and evening to enjoy the shops and tasting rooms on the Plaza or to relax by the pool.

El Dorado Hotel

Sonoma, California

A contemporary boutique hotel on Sonoma Plaza, fabulously situated among art galleries, wine-tasting rooms, and cafés. Spacious luminous rooms have modern décor with French doors opening onto a private balcony with views of either the plaza or garden courtyard. An outdoor swimming pool, heated from May to October, has private cabanas and daybeds for relaxing. The restaurant sources local produce for its sophisticated cuisine, and serves in a warm main dining room, the garden courtyard, or fireplace lounge. Steps from the hotel are the numerous historical buildings surrounding Sonoma Plaza—a National Historic Landmark.

Day 5

Glen Ellen

Jack London State Park to Benziger Family Winery; 6 miles, easy to moderate, 900-ft. elevation gain and loss

You depart Sonoma this morning by private transfer to the nearby village of Glen Ellen (just eight miles) where your walk takes you into historical Jack London State Park. Among the vast trail network and early-20th-century buildings, your route winds past oaks to the Ancient Redwood tree, an estimated 1,800–2,000-year-old redwood. En route are views of the “Valley of the Moon,” the writer’s name for the Sonoma Valley. After finding the perfect picnic spot, you can then visit Jack London’s cottage, where he wrote several of his famous novels, and also the location of the “House of Happy Walls”—a museum dedicated to Jack by his wife, Charmian. A short walk down London Ranch Road brings you to the Benziger Family Winery for a vineyard “Partner’s Tour” in a small tram—here you taste wines in the vineyard where the grapes are grown. The tour proceeds through the property, where you learn about biodynamic, organic, and sustainable farming methods, and to the barrel storage cave for further exploration. You then conclude the visit at the tasting room to sample the winery’s full range of wines. A short descent of about 1½ miles leads to your hotel, or you can also call for a ride. A welcome glass of wine awaits you, or perhaps a stroll through the tranquil lawn and gardens to the swimming pool or riverside hammocks.

The Gaige House

Glen Ellen, California

With the feel of a sophisticated home, this inn invites relaxation in its fireside public rooms and tranquil grounds and gardens, with an outdoor swimming pool and hot tub. Guest rooms are contemporary with Asian-inspired accents and furnishings, muted colors and fabrics. Included are a bountiful breakfast in the dining room, an evening wine and cheese reception in the sitting room, and fresh-baked cookies and refreshments throughout the day. Spa treatments are offered in-room, in the spa loft, or in a private outdoor cabana. In the heart of Sonoma wine country, Glen Ellen is at the intersection of vineyards, hiking trails, and state and historical parks and gardens.

Day 6

Glen Ellen

Departure from Glen Ellen

You are free to depart anytime this morning after a copious breakfast at your inn. 

Itinerary Disclaimer

Bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual activities, sites, and accommodations may vary due to season, special events, weather, or transportation schedules. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and your experience. If you are currently booked on a CW adventure, an itinerary has been sent to you for your exact departure date. Please call CW at 800.464.9255 if you have any questions about the exact itinerary or hotels selected for any of our tours.

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