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Wine Country Bucket List: 6 Luxurious Dream Experiences

These Northern California wine country activities are the stuff of fantasy.

As relaxing as a spa day may be, blissful Wine Country experiences can go beyond mud baths. Explore these treats that are guaranteed to surprise and delight someone special. (And that person could be you!) Because every day should be a red letter day, right?   

The French Laundry

Secure a table for the tasting menu (starting at $310 per person) at the French Laundry, Thomas Keller’s three-Michelin-star restaurant in a charming old stone cottage. Planning to pull out all the stops at one of the world’s most esteemed restaurants? The 1992 Cabernet Sauvignon Screaming Eagle is a cool $50,000.

Napa Valley Wine Train
Hurtle past lush landscapes on the Napa Valley Wine Train. (Courtesy Napa Valley Wine Train)

Napa Valley Wine Train

The Napa Valley Wine Train takes a scenic route in a luxury vintage Pullman railcar. A 36-mile gourmet culinary and wine journey originates in historic downtown Napa, returning six hours later. Tours stop at four premier wineries—Robert Mondavi, Charles Krug, Merryvale, and V. Sattui—include a guide and VIP tastings. From $249 per person.

Oakland Raiders' Summer Training Camp

Bump into the Oakland Raiders during their 13 days of summer training camp in Napa. Closed to the general public, only season ticket holders and invited guests can gain access to the practice field. Request accommodation at the Napa Valley Marriott to hang out where the team stays through most of August. 

Wente Vineyards concert in California
Party on a winery during the Wente Concert Series. (Courtesy Wente Vineyards)

Wente Concert Series

World-famous entertainers perform at Wente Estates in East Bay wine country. American treasure Diana Ross graced the stage at last year’s 30th annual summer concert series. Watch for the annual lineup annoucement to snag a front row seat in the amphitheater at America’s oldest continually operating family winery. The $300 ticket includes a four-course dinner.

Sonoma International Film Festival

Circle your calendar for all five days of the annual Sonoma International Film Festival. This is the stuff of dreams: mingling with filmmakers, actors and directors on the red carpet; tent receptions and parties with flowing Champagne; and exclusive film screenings and celebrity panels. Soirée Pass VIP access is $675 per person.   

Napa Valley Aloft Balloons
Sail over Napa in a VIP-packaged hot air balloon experience. (Courtesy Napa Valley Aloft Balloons)

Hot Air Balloon Ride

Birds know the best way to appreciate wine country. Rise before dawn for a VIP pick-up. Witness the spectacle of balloon inflation and be first to float up in the morning sky for a private sunrise hot air balloon ride for two, with your own bottle of Napa’s sparkling wine to celebrate.