Archive - Californa RSS Feed

Explore California Wine Country with VBT

Biking Sonoma

California wine country produces 90% of America’s wine and its 1,200 wineries would collectively be considered the fourth largest producer in the world, if California were its own country. Some of the most highly regarded varieties are grown in the coastal valleys northeast of San Francisco where a combination of Californian sun, cool sea breezes and fog provide the perfect weather for grape growing.  These valleys also offer amazing cycling terrain with rolling hills, redwood groves, dramatic coastlines and historic, welcoming towns. Travelers will discover that VBT’s California Wine Country & the Pacific Coast biking tour is the perfect getaway for biking enthusiasts and impassioned oenophiles alike.

Group Cheers

The cycling part of our vacation begins along back roads in the Carneros district, a viticulture region that stretches Grape tastingacross the lower reaches of both Sonoma and Napa Valley near the San Pablo Bay that is renowned for its still and sparkling wines.  The benefit of the encroaching fog and cooler ocean air allows the winemakers to grow cool-climate grapes like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. VBT guests will hop off their bikes at the Madonna Estate Winery for a tasting of delectable Napa Valley wines—including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio—that have been refined over four generations of winemaking.

Chateau St. Jean
Chateau St. Jean Bottle ChardonnayA day spent riding in the “Valley of the Moon”—the Native American translation of “Sonoma”—among the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains, leads us to the Chateau St. Jean Winery, one of the quintessential Sonoma wineries. The winery’s grounds feature both sprawling vineyards and lush, manicured gardens that were inspired by formal estate gardens in Italy and France. We’ll enjoy a tasting in the Vineyard Room during our visit before shuttling back to our hotel in Bodega Bay.

Russian River Valley

One of the other highlights of our California Wine Country tour is a ride through the Russian River valley, known as the “Kingdom of Pinot Noir”. The cycling routes along both the east and west sides of the valley offer striking views of lush, productive vineyards. The Russian River Valley’s climate is known for the cooling fog that ebbs and flows through the Petaluma Wind Gap and the channel cut by the Russian River. The fog typically arrives mid-evening and California Coast bikingoften drops the temperature 35 to 40 degrees from its daytime high. By morning, the mist retreats back to the ocean. This so-called “natural air-conditioning” effect allows the grapes to develop full flavor maturity during an extended growing season—often 15 to 20 percent longer than found in the surrounding regions—while retaining their life-giving natural acidity.

These are just a couple examples of the memorable bike rides and wine tastings you’ll find on our California Wine Country & the Pacific Coast​ biking vacation. If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868. They are available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST and Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm EST.

Art and Travel

An Artist’s Journey with VBT
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Trish W. of Benbrook Texas has painted her way through quite a discourse, Traveling with VBT. For the past three years Trish has been drawing on the inspiration she finds in VBT’s biking vacations to paint vivid landscapes of all the vistas she can capture.

Finding Her Calling and Finding it Again
Trish found her love for art when she was very young. In fact, at only two years of age Trish began drawing and painting on her first canvas, the walls of her home. When it became clear that this was less of a phase and more of a calling, Trish’s parents developed a unique approach to fostering Trish’s creative drive while giving a bit of a break to the walls around the house. She recalls, “My parents eventually decided to put up chalk boards all around the house for me to draw on.”

Trish continued drawing and painting throughout her childhood and eventually received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Drawing at the University of Texas. She followed that degree with a Master of Fine Arts in Ceramics at Texas Women’s University. Though she is proficient in many artistic disciplines, Trish has devoted most of her life’s work to painting portraits. That is, until a friend recommended VBT’s Puglia Vacation. Trish took her friend up on the adventure and discovered an entirely new muse, the outdoors. “On the bike you see things you wouldn’t ordinarily notice and that appeals to me as a painter… and the scenery can be so majestic. I still love to paint faces, but now I really love painting places, too.”

Experiencing the Destination
Trish began traveling with VBT in 2009. Since then, she’s kept up quite a pace, Biking in Ireland in 2010 and California Wine Country in 2011. And she’s already made plans to take two VBT vacations in 2012, Biking Vermont and Cycling Tuscany.

It’s no wonder that she has taken such an interest in traveling with VBT. For Trish, vacations are all about enjoying the experience. “Once I started traveling with VBT by bike I decided that that was the only way to go. I’ve always felt safe, it’s wonderful how well thought out the trips are, and I love it when someone else does all the detail work.” Given her vocation as a painter, Trish also enjoys the flexibility to peel off from the group at any time to snap as many photos as she likes, using the photographs as models for her paintings.

When riding through a new destination, Trish tends to connect with local animals about as much as she does local people. Her work is a testament to how inspired she is by wildlife and nature. But, connecting with fellow travelers also has its benefits. Throughout her journeys, Trish is constantly painting, and she’ll often trade her work for a glass of wine or two. She even got a massage in exchange for one of her pieces. A glass of wine and a massage? What a way to cap off a great day of biking!

Looking Back and Looking Ahead
VBT’s emphasis on connecting travelers with their destination certainly rings true for Trish. “Ireland was my favorite. All my ancestors come from Ireland, and as soon as I got there, it felt like I was coming home. And biking through Ireland was such a wonderful experience. Every turn presented a new vista.”

Where to next? With two biking vacations coming up in 2012, Trish has the coming year pretty well planned out. However, she is still looking ahead to more VBT vacations in the future. She would love to Explore France, perhaps by Biking in Loire Valley or Bicycling Bordeaux. And she may take her first walking vacation with VBT, through Machu Picchu.

Whichever she chooses, it seems clear that through her work, Trish will continue to inspire others just as she is impacted by the myriad of sights and experiences that VBT vacations have to offer. You can view more of Trish’s work on her website.

Page 1 of 212»