Just before the New Year, I wrote in a post about visiting a winery. I received several emails from riders who were interested in learning more about the prospect of touring vineyards via SwissBike. After some research and several phone calls I was able to put together a tentative “to-do” list for SwissBike riding wine aficionados. One of the best locations (in the US mind you) to partake in vineyard tourism by bike is Napa Valley, CA. In the height of the wine season Napa can be a little too overwhelming due to the amount of tourists running from vineyard to vineyard. Thus, as a cyclist, one of the most relaxing times to visit Napa by bike is slightly after the peak season namely in the late fall or early winter months. During this time, the roads open up, and reservations are easier to make. Off seasons will also find winery staff with more time to stop and chat offering you local knowledge and tips to make your vacation even better.
Through the length of the valley run two major roads; route 29 and The Silverado Trail. Route 29 is characteristically a much more well traveled road, yet in recognition of the amount of cyclists that enjoy traveling through this area, stretches of great bike paths are found along this road. The Silverado Trail is a bit more dependable. More off the beaten path, this road tends to be more cycling friendly, providing direct access to route 29 and most major towns along the way via small dirt roads. The Silverado Trail runs parallel to route 29 from Napa to Calistoga covering approximately 26 miles. The Napa County Transportation Agency has provided very detailed free maps for the area here. Note the bike lane runs from Napa all the way up to Callistoga. Rumor has it that there are many rest areas and public parks along this route for tired legs to get some rest.
As San Francisco is just a short car or bus ride (perfect for your folding SwissBike) from the Napa area we would suggest that you begin your trek there. Once arriving in Napa nightly accommodations are easily found although you may want to make reservations some time before depending on the season. Depending on your riding ability day trips of virtually any length can be had. Thus vacationers can spend as little as a day or as much as they wish touring the wineries and taking in the great scenery to be had.
Of the hundreds of wineries in the Napa Valley area, there are a handful that have come recommended to us as priorities on the “to- do” list. All of these three wineries are both renowned for their history as well as their product.
- As one of the oldest vineyards in Napa Valley, Beaulieu was one of the few to survive prohibition of the 1920s. By the 1940s, Beaulieu wines were featured at all major White House functions. The vineyard is located in Rutherford, a 15 mile cycle from Napa. Make reservations for a tour here.
- Another survivor of prohibition, Beringer is the oldest continuously operating vineyard in Napa Valley. As the vineyards surround a huge estate that itself is worth the trip, this location is a must for obvious reasons. Dinners and events occur yearlong at Beringer. Find more information about it all here.
Robert Mondavi Winery
- Robert Mondavi is one of the leading names in advancement and promotion of Napa Valley wines. Some say he is responsible for the international success of the area. His winery off of route 29 should not disappoint. Make reservations for a tour or here.
The above wineries are just three of hundreds that are easily accessible via your SwissBike. As a cycling friendly community, Napa Valley welcomes you to share their roads and taste their award winning wines. For an added treat search out the famous hot mineral springs in Calistoga; The perfect treat for the weary legs of a cyclist.