Food & Wine Perfectly Paired with Nature
One of my favorite trips was a Visit California familiarization trip for travel agents. It turned out to be a whirlwind tour of wineries and national parks, and we saw an amazing amount.
We started out visiting Napa Valley wineries. The wineries are so different from each other, both in their wines and their styles. At some, you simply taste the wines. Others offer tours and real education. And some wineries have gourmet farm-to-table restaurants. Peju Province Winery was one of my favorites, and I may eventually use it for an event. They have interactive culinary experiences as well as wine and cheese tastings and offer fun team-building programs.
The Farmhouse Inn hosted us in Sonoma, and it is one of the most beautiful places I’ve stayed. It has been in the same family for five generations, and their Michelin-starred restaurant has won awards. The rooms are exquisite, and their wine tour was fascinating. They even explained the water! It could be a great place for a destination wedding or an executive retreat.
Equally charming was the Chateau du Sureau, a five-star hotel set on a nine-acre estate. It also has an award-winning restaurant, Erna’s Elderberry House. The Chateau reflects the taste of its Viennese owner, Erna Kubin-Clanin, who custom designed each room. It caught me by surprise because the hotel and estate feel like something out of a European fairy tale.
The Chateau makes a great home base for visiting Yosemite National Park. We spent a day exploring the highlights of the Park. I’d seen it on television, in the movies, and on the internet, but to see in person is mind-boggling.
Redwood State Park was another highlight. It’s hard to convey the experience of standing amid trees that are centuries old and hundreds of feet tall. We did a short hike that was so quiet and peaceful, it inspired me to take up hiking.
Our journey ended in Monterey and Carmel Valley. It is an amazing destination for families. There are many wonderful activities: horseback riding, hiking, making goat cheese …and, of course, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is amazing. One of the highlights that I will suggest to anyone headed out there is a docent-led hike around Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, where you are likely to spot sea otters, harbor seals, and sea lions as well as whales and dolphins.
I’d never been to this area before, and so many things captured my imagination. I have a client who is going to Napa on vacation, and I am going to suggest he also visit Sonoma because I am sure he will love it.