California -- Sonoma County wine tour
Fun fact: when the Vikings first landed in North America a thousand years ago, they dubbed it Vinland for its abundance of grape vines. Now you, too, can go explore American wines, though your trip is likely to look less like dragon-ships careening around Canada and more like the 2004 comedy Sideways. The Northern California climate and geography that offer exquisite grapes also make this region ideal for hiking: mild-to-steep inclines, seasonal weather, and vintners keen to share a chardonnay with passing clientele.
Julie Simonton, who runs a construction company on the West Coast, recently completed a four-day excursion in the region that included visits to Ravenswood, Sebastiani, Buena Vista, Pangloss, Hamel Family Wines, B.R. Cohn, and Ahh Winery. "For me, the combination of the hiking and the wine tasting was wonderful," she says. "Since we were getting exercise, there was no guilt associated with drinking wine and eating the wonderful food. It felt extremely relaxing -- and indulgent -- to just sit and drink wine and look at beautiful scenery." Straight up. And if you haven't seen Sideways, remember: take out your chewing gum before sipping.