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Natural Wonders: Sonoma Valley’s Wine Country

Wine making and hiking come together perfectly in the Sonoma Valley, where California meets the Mediterranean.
destinations november 09 sonoma vally wine country Sonoma Vally's Wine Country (Thomas Hallstein)

Sonoma Valley’s Wine Country | Pacific Northwest’s Salmon Run | Maui’s Nakalele Blowhole

The Wonder
For 7,000 years, grapes–or more accurately, the wine they produce–have wowed humans worldwide. Winemaking and hiking come together perfectly in Northern California, where Russian colonists planted the area’s first grapes in 1812. Vineyards flourished in Sonoma and Napa Valleys’ hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters; the area now produces some of the world’s best wines.

The Way
From Santa Rosa, take US 12 east past Glen Ellen to the Sonoma Valley Regional Park. From the gate at the end of the lot, pick up an unmarked trail for a four-mile out-and-back. During summer and fall, hike through sun-dried fields of prairie grasses (flowers in spring) into California oak woodlands. Pause a quarter-mile in for sweeping views of the B.R. Cohn Winery. Silvery-green olive trees grow alongside the neat rows of grape vines. Apres hike, head a mile farther down US 12 to the winery. Wander through the eight acres of cabernet sauvignon grapes and 140-year-old olive groves. Then visit the tasting room ($10 to sample current vintages). brcohn.com; sonoma-county.org/parks

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