After a year of lockdown, we’re all eager to get out and about. Pundits are already predicting 1920s-esque decadence, which is easy to understand given the absence of in-person socialization for so long. But if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that good health is irreplaceable and maintaining balance is becoming a stronger focus for many of us.
Perhaps it’s not a coincidence, then, that many wineries are rethinking how we wine. Americans are moving past over-indulging and reaching for lower-alcohol wines and other beverages. Thankfully, we’re collectively embracing wine as part of a healthy lifestyle instead of a contradiction of one.
And, it just makes sense! Wine country tends to be among the most beautiful locations in the world, which means there are vistas aplenty to explore on foot or by bicycle. Wine country also tends to be cultivated by those who love really really good food, which means that fresh fruits and vegetables beyond grapes proliferate. What could possibly be better than a day exploring wine country on a bicycle that ends with a fabulous meal with friends?
Here, we have a look at experiences throughout Napa and Sonoma that embrace wine and fitness as a more holistic approach to wellness.
Wine & Wellness Experiences in Napa
Napa is stunning and it will likely stay that way due to the Napa Valley Agricultural Preserve. Established in 1968, the Ag Preserve ensures that land designated for agriculture can only be that. In other words, we’re not likely to see a sprawl of McMansions springing up in Napa anytime soon. This means that the expanse of scenery ensures plenty of land to explore. (That said, Napa is very busy during high season so please do exercise caution when cycling along main routes.)
Clif Family Winery has long embraced health and wellness – after all, it was founded by the creator of Clif Bar! Owners Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford are adamant about sustainable agriculture as well as personal physical fitness and support the Napa Valley Marathon and numerous cycling events year-round. Wine club members at Clif can participate in cycling and hiking adventures before heading back to the tasting room to relax with some wine and nibbles off Clif’s farm-fed food truck.
The Napa Valley Vine Trail is another way to combine wine and wellness. The goal is to complete a 47-mile hiking and cycling trail system that runs the length of Napa. And while it’s currently only 12.5 miles long, it terminates at Yountville which just happens to have some of the top restaurants in the world. Not really a coincidence, is it?
To make an event out of your cycling aspirations, consider CampoVelo weekends. Held throughout the year, CampoVelo weekends combine cycling, hiking, yoga, spa time… and of course, food and wine!
Another way to embrace holistic wellness is to check out Active Wine Adventures. They offer a variety of hiking adventures that finish with wine and meals served at top wineries throughout Napa and Sonoma. Some tours are pre-set but others are customizable, which means they’re perfect for any level of difficulty or adventure.
Before leaving Napa, pop into Napa Olive Oil Manufacturing Company to load up on that heart-healthiest way to cook. Located in an old barn in St Helena, Napa Olive Oil Co has been dishing out some incredible oils and Italian specialties since 1931. Shopping here truly is an experience.
Wine & Wellness Experiences in Sonoma
Sonoma is bigger than Napa – about twice as large and very spread out. It’s also less hurried, which allows us space to really decompress. It’s nicknamed ‘Slownoma’ for a reason, right? Thankfully, Sonoma offers ample opportunity to downshift, whether it’s with long hikes in coastal pine forests or recharging yoga among vines.
Kunde Family Winery offers perhaps the best health-building experience of all: hiking with dogs. It’s a fact that dogs improve our quality of life anyway so let’s show them how much we appreciate them by hiking through the beautiful vineyard terrain together! Enjoy a glass of wine in the tasting room afterward, though your best friend will probably have to stick to water.
Bartholomew and Seghesio have also historically offered gorgeous vineyard hikes. Please be sure to check current offerings as wineries have been scrambling to keep up with ever-changing pandemic regulations. Assuming both will be back to full capacity soon, they’re worth the wait!
If you’re more inclined to focus on yoga, check out Molly Vogel’s offerings. Yoga classes in some of the most beautiful vineyards in Sonoma are sure to feed the mind, body, and soul. A class-ending glass of wine and cheese pairing can’t hurt either.
Emeritus Winery also offers yoga in the vines at Hallberg Ranch in beautiful Sebastopol. Not only will participants “exhale their troubles” but they’ll sample world-class Pinot Noir after class with some snacks. After that, the day is still young and Sebastopol still has plenty of wineries, so the sky’s the limit.
Despite the very difficult year we faced in 2020, there is indeed light ahead. Employers have realized that many jobs can shift to remote, which means we have more flexibility in our scheduling. Let’s do ourselves a solid by taking time to take care of ourselves by balancing out our love of wine with our love for our bodies.