Limo and the Wine Country - Part I of 2

by Annette Lucido

See Limo and Wine Country: Sonoma Valley Part 2

California's Wine Country offers enough wineries, roads and historic attractions to satisfy the large number of visitors who explore the area each year. Visitors find Spanish missions, memorabilia of famous authors, homes of celebrities past and present, wine tours, superb golf and tennis, balloon rides, biking, fishing, boating, wonderful lodgings and great meals -- the list is longer than the lines of people who wait to enter the Christian Brothers' tasting room on the 4th of July. So, wise visitors plan ahead, make reservations for activities, lodgings and schedule visits to avoid the crowds typical of warm summer weekends. One way to accomplish this is to visit during the week. It would be a shame to visit California and miss one of the states prime attractions.

If you want a memorable trip of the wine country, take advantage of a wine tour in your own private limousine. Beau Limousine Fours & Transportation offers special packages for touring the wineries. Packages can be set up to cater to your needs, different packages offer dining at one of the fine restaurants in the valley. Packages start at $199.00. If a car is not enough, a group can charter a Limousine bus.

Since there is so much to see in the Wine Country, it's not possible to cover both Napa and Sonoma Valley in less that a day. So let's look at the Napa Valley


Today, Napa Valley is home to more than 240 wineries. It's reputation for producing wines is established in an ever-growing global market The Napa Valley stretches from the north edge of San Pablo Bay all the way up past Calistoga. When we visit we stop first in Napa where the revitalized Main Street offers a nice mix of Antique shops, restaurants and lodgings, and then usually follow the Silverado Trail up the valley.

For another special attraction, add a balloon tour to your schedule. Start the early morning off -- balloons fly then because the air is calm -- helping inflate the balloon and end up landing in the vineyards before you enjoy a nice champagne brunch.

History buffs will also need extra time. While Robert Louis Stevenson and Jack London certainly qualify as an odd couple with writing as their only common bond, both lived in and loved the Napa and Sonoma valleys, the center of California's Wine Country.

Stevenson book the SILVERADO SQUATTERS was an account of his stay in 1880. He honeymooned in an abandoned bunkhouse on Mount St. Helena that is now designated Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. London loved the area so well, he built a dream home known as Wolf House in the Sonoma valley. A disgruntled employee burned the house down, but its ruins are worth a tour.

Many other celebrities have also share the taste of the valleys. To name a few, Pat Paulson, The Smothers Brothers and Robin Williams. Charles Schulz built the ice rink in Petaluma so the Charlie Brown's creator would have a place to play senior hockey: we all miss him.

To get an overview with minimum effort check the Vintage 1870, in Yountville, delightful multimedia "Napa Valley Show" that offers a four seasons look at the valley. There's a dandy collection of shops. One favorite sells special jams and mustards and chutneys plus all the railroad memorabilia. Wine prices at the large shop behind the main building were lower than average.

If you must visit on the weekend, start very early, consider biking, check laterals and skip the Silverado Trail for the less crowded highway on the Clear Lake side of the valley. Clear Lake's a good way to cool off on a hot day too. Or you can rent a canoe and run the Russian River for a half day.

Don't miss the Calistoga area at the head of the valley with its wonderful spa, mud wraps and oddments like biplane flights. You need not worry about food, unless you try to get a late reservation at the French Laundry that books a month ahead. Most of the restaurants are very, very good, or quickly closed as the competition for "foodies" is brutal here. An exception was the Wine Train food that's not nearly as nice as the slow, scenic trip. We particularly enjoy loading up with fresh French bread gourmet cheese from Europe or the nearby Rouge et Noir creamery, wonderful Italian sausage and seasonal fresh fruit and produce. Add a bottle of wine and a "significant other" and you've a wonderful al fresco meal.

Lodgings run from Silverado's Golf through a wide range of upscale B&B and classic lodges