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.
The cycling part of our vacation begins along back roads in the Carneros district, a viticulture region that stretches across 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.
A 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.
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 often 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.