Happy winehikers, cavorting along a woodsy path on a late-September morning. These folks joined me last year; would you like to join me this year? If so, you’ll find all the details on my Romp through the Redwoods page.
Every day, people come and go in and out of our lives, often only for brief encounters. Yet when those brief encounters are approached without pretense or condition and are instead met with levity, compassion, and a relaxed good nature, everybody wins, and brief moments linger in our memories much longer than we could have anticipated. Even when the weather and the trail combine for scandalous brutality!
Such was my experience last Saturday meeting a foursome from Palm Springs.
The Coachella Valley Masochist’s Society, as they irreverently called themselves, had headed north to Napa, ostensibly to escape the blast furnace at home. No small surprise – Friday’s high temperature in Palm Springs had registered 120 degrees. And yet somehow, they had brought the heat with them to the town of Napa, where they had made arrangements to stay at the Adorable Purple Victorian for four days of wine country fun.
So while the local bird population in Palm Springs was using oven mitts to pull worms out of the ground, our foursome was enjoying a drive in a ’49 Packard convertible along the Silverado Trail, enjoying the Stag’s Leap District’s Robinson Family Winery and an interesting lesson in barrel tasting at Del Dotto Vineyards.
I showed up early the following morning to guide our foursome along the Mount St. Helena Trail at Robert Louis Stevenson State Park, above Calistoga, California. Our plan was to hike a 10-mile out-and-back to the top of the mountain for a broad look-see, as well as stop to admire the remains of Stevenson’s honeymoon cabin (where he purportedly sowed the seeds for his later novel, “The Silverado Squatters”). Later, after the hike, we would stop for a picnic lunch and a tasting at Cuvaison Winery.
But boy, was it hot. We joked about the heat as we drove up the Valley in our air-conditioned Crown Victoria, as if the heat were merely an innocuous quintessence. We knew better, however, and hydrated a-plenty during the drive. And we got to know ourselves a little. We talked about wine and told tall tales from the trail. Then, we laced on our boots and, floating uphill in the heat, in flagrante delicto, we told some more. Despite the impetuous inferno and my need for more than two handkerchiefs, I was having quite a fun day. We all were – four desert rats and one wannabe desert rat.
And that’s how it turned out, too – just plain fun. It didn’t matter that the trail was exposed and the rock was too hot to sit on and we lost five pounds of valuable sweat and the sun was the devil incarnate and we really couldn’t taste wine ’cause it was too darn hot. No, what really mattered was that goodness in people just naturally shows through even when Nature throws the high-heat fastball at ‘em.
Dori, Bob, Becky, and Ware: you folks are the best. May I hike your path again someday. Heck, I’ll even bring a (highly chilled) bottle along next time.
[Editor’s note: I arranged a custom tour for this foursome via my tour business, California Wine Hikes. I can do the same for you – hopefully on a cooler day! Just click here.]
[Over the past weekend, the following press release found its way to the World Wide Web.]
Capitalizing on the wellness trend, San Francisco Bay Area tour company launches e-commerce website dedicated to active wine country travel.
Sunnyvale, CA (PRWEB) March 4, 2006 — Many travelers to the wine country are finding that the typical group tour falls short when it comes to offering health and wellness. With today’s travelers trending toward more active, wellness-inspired pursuits, the prospect of multiple winery visits without acknowledging the local surroundings is quickly losing its appeal. Fortunately, there is a California-based tour company, California Wine Hikes, that expects to capitalize on the wellness trend.
Company owner Russ Beebe says his tours are unlike those of the typical wine touring company. “It’s all about the three E’s,” says Russ, “and the first E stands for Education. You’re actually going to learn something on our tours – about wine, about local culture, and about our connection with Nature. Like other wine tours, we visit local wineries, but that’s not our focal point. We encourage our guests to develop an understanding of why they like a wine, not just the idea that they like it and want to buy a case of it. So, we taste wine in a more formal setting. Our guests find these tastings fun, intimate, and educational. It’s an experience they can take with them.”
The second E denotes Exercise. Russ feels there’s more to the wine country than being whisked around in a limousine to 4 or 5 wineries every day, only to return home with an oversaturated cerebellum. “You’re going to get a workout,” says Russ. “Rather than encourage a quantity of alcohol intake during a wine country tour, why not embrace quality, and earn a fabulous reward for your outdoor effort? The moments on the hiking trails, after all, are stimulating and invigorating, and build an appetite for good food, good sleep, and a sense of well-being.”
The publicity these days does suggest a greater need for better diet and exercise. With a desire to live longer, more fulfilling lives, the demand is growing for healthier activities when traveling on business or vacation.
Rather than remain confined to a local wine region, the company offers hiking and wine-tasting tours that span the state from Santa Barbara to Mendocino and from Silicon Valley to Amador County. “That’s a lot of territory,” admits Russ, referring to his third E, which stands for Enormous. “Simply put, California offers so much. There are impressive hiking trails to be found all over the state’s major wine regions, and I guide my guests on the best ones. We then reward ourselves by tasting the local fruit of the vine.”
ABOUT CALIFORNIA WINE HIKES
California Wine Hikes offers guided hikes and small-group experiences that combine the best of Nature, wine, fine food & accommodations in the California wine country.
Special “winehiking” packages are available. Many tours sell out and guests should book early. For information and easy online booking, visit http://www.californiawinehikes.com.
California Wine Hikes
I’ve recently invited a number of the people in my life, both present and past, to take note of my new endeavor, and to subscribe to the forthcoming premier issue of my newsletter, Wine Hiking. I am not only delighted with the responses I’ve been receiving, but also tickled to read so many of your encouraging words. It’s been especially nice to hear from folks I haven’t seen or talked to since high school! I sure hope we find a way to enjoy some time again together. You know, I believe I’ve got a way to do that with California Wine Hikes.
If Winehiker Witiculture is a chronicle of things experienced, Wine Hiking is a promise of what’s to come. Those of you who read this blog are welcome to taste what’s fermenting in the wine-hiking barrel by signing up for our premier issue. If you like what you read here, chances are you’ll enjoy reading Wine Hiking. Simply go to the California Wine Hikes website, enter your first name and email address, and zip-zip-zip, you’ll be all queued up and ready. Wine Hiking should arrive in your inbox by February 1st.