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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Get Moving in Napa Valley

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3. What to Do


Set your alarm clock for a morning afloat (followed by Champagne) with Napa Valley Balloons.   

Break a sweat before you sip: Several wineries now offer physical activities beyond just lifting a glass to your lips. Work out your core with a Pilates or barre session on the upstairs veranda of St. Helena’s Vineyard 29, where a stunning view of the 29 planted acres and Howell Mountain in the distance make that painful last “hundred” worth it. Workouts wrap up with a tasting of the winery’s small-production varietals accompanied by organic, small-bite snacks like Dungeness crab salad with mango and avocado and a tour of their cellar, followed by brunch (sessions on Sunday; reservations required, $290 per person, four-person minimum). Hop aboard a Polaris ATV at Somerston for a guided 45-minute tour through the vineyard’s 1,600 stunning acres, which span natural soda springs and vistas from up to 1,200 feet; the excursion ends with a tasting of three estate wines paired with artisan cheeses (tour and tasting, $75). At Domaine Carneros, perfect your yoga postures alfresco on the grassy veranda with magnificent views of vine-covered hillsides; try to book a class taught by Christie Dufault, who’s also a sommelier and, for an extra $50, will lead an hour-long wine education and tasting session (classes $125, including brunch).

Pedal through some of Napa’s most prized landscapes, starting at Velo Vino. The tasting room of Clif Family Winery has become a gathering spot for local and visiting cyclists since its opening in 2011 (by the same folks behind Clif Bar). Grab a detailed map of eight local routes: Beginners will enjoy the 12-mile Conn Valley/Lake Hennessey ride, an out-and-back route along oak-lined rural roads, while more experienced riders should try out the 24-mile Organic Farm/Cold Springs Loop, with an elevation gain of nearly 3,000 feet. Post-ride, linger at Velo Vino’s cleverly designed tasting room (flights from $15), inspired by the lodgelike "refugios" of the Alps, where athletes rest up and rejuvenate. Rookie riders should also consider visiting Calistoga, for well-marked bike routes and less-trafficked roads; the Calistoga Bike Shop is the go-to spot for rentals (from $18) and tips on riding in the area.

Marvel at the views of wine country from up to 2,000 feet up, with Napa Valley Balloons (from $215 per person, including Champagne breakfast). The predawn wake-up call is worth it to see the sun peeking through the fog over the vineyards from your unique vantage point in the handwoven rattan basket of a hot-air balloon. Flights last approximately an hour, followed by the ballooning tradition of a Champagne toast, as well as a hot breakfast of eggs, bacon, and pastries, including a Champagne bar, at étoile Restaurant on the scenic grounds of Domaine Chandon.


Published on Mar 6, 2014 as a web exclusive.

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