From Napa and Sonoma to Livermore, Northern California wine country is made up of a number of famous routes. Here are four distinct journeys that are worth a visit and the wineries to visit along the way.
State Route 29
Napa Valley is known for its north-south State Route 29 that stretches the length of the valley. The vineyard-lined lane is dotted with famous estates including Domaine Chandon, Cakebread Cellars and St. Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery. One beloved way to see the sights, as well as stop and sip, is aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train, which chugs between vineyards and tasting rooms along a 25-mile track.
In the small town of Rutherford, detour to Peju Province Winery for cabernet franc. For cabernet sauvignon, head to Beaulieu Vineyard, Napa Valley’s longest continually operating winery. Rutherford is also home to Grgich Hills Estate, a Wine Train stop known for a French oak-aged Chardonnay and complex reds.
In Calistoga, get out and stretch your legs. Sterling Vineyards boasts bold single-vineyard and reserve cabernet sauvignons and an aerial tram that ferries visitors to the ridge-top tasting room. You can also disembark the Wine Train at Castello di Amorosa, a Tuscan-style castle and tasting room built by legendary winemaker Dario Sattui of St. Helena’s V. Sattui Winery.
State Route 121, also known as the Silverado Trail, stretches parallel to Highway 29 along the less crowded eastern side of Napa Valley. Dozens of notable wineries along the Silverado Trail include Rombauer Vineyards, Rutherford Ranch Winery, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and Clos Du Val Winery.
Sonoma Wine Road
In northern Sonoma County, the Sonoma Wine Road offers countless options, encompassing the Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River valleys. Start with Benziger Family Winery and Madrone Vineyards Estate in Glen Ellen, swing north to Jordan Winery in Healdsburg, and stop at the cluster of tasting rooms in Geyserville.
Don’t forget to mark your calendar for early March, when the annual Sonoma County Restaurant Week kicks off across the valley and 100-plus wineries participate in the annual Barrel Tasting all along the Sonoma Wine Road.
Livermore Wine Trail
The Livermore Wine Trail offers rich red wines at spots such as Wente Vineyards, the country’s oldest continuously operated family-owned winery. The fifth-generation estate offers a robust collection including estate-grown cabernet sauvignon and a small-lot pinot blanc. While in Livermore, stop and sip cabernet sauvignon at McGrail Vineyards and Winery and petite sirah at Concannon Vineyard.