One of our favorite vacations is a road trip where we enjoy a well-planned itinerary with enough flexibility and time for spontaneous side trips.

This summer with so many people taking to the roads to enjoy new sites and vistas in the United States, we wanted to share a favorite local Northern California trip of ours which happens to feature American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) where our grapes are grown.

To kick off your adventure, enjoy a pre-arranged Elizabeth Spencer tasting in Rutherford at our historic brick building that was the former post office for the town in the 1870’s. Located off Highway 128 this is a great starting point for a two-day round trip. Make sure to pick up a several bottles of wine to enjoy along the way on a picnic or at dinner.

This first day of our suggested route follows Highway 128 north through Napa and Sonoma Counties to the Northern California Coast near Albion in Mendocino County. With no stopping this trip would take about 3 ½ hours, but we recommend taking time to explore at a leisurely pace for any additional must-see sites. We suggest making advance hotel reservations for an overnight at the end of the day at the California coast in either Albion, Elko, Little River or Mendocino. This way you will be assured of a landing spot at the end of the day and then can meander and take your time as you will surely be making discoveries along the way.

Upon leaving our tasting room, head North towards Calistoga on Highway 29. There are many storied vineyards and wineries in this illustrious Napa Valley corridor through St. Helena and Calistoga. Note the “Welcome to Napa Valley” sign, just south of the town of Calistoga on the right. It is a visitor favorite and offers a great photo opportunity. While passing through Calistoga think of our 2017 Cabernet Franc, Calistoga and our 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga. Both wines are made from stellar vineyards in this appellation.

Continue driving north through the bucolic Knight’s Valley towards Geyserville. You will cross the Napa County line into Sonoma County. As you head into Geyserville, there are great lunch spots to choose from, along with a welcoming main street filled with locally owned shops. Or save lunch as a picnic stop further north as you get closer to the redwoods before arriving at the coast.

Continue north to Cloverdale and then through the towns of Boonville, Navarro and finally to Albion at the coast taking time to stop at sites of interest. There are numerous vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms along the way. Sunset at the Coast is a wonderful way to end a day’s road trip, however if you wanted to keep exploring, you could travel North to Mendocino County where we grow our sauvignon blanc and grenache grapes.

Day Two

To start your second day, we recommend travelling south on Highway One. This breathtakingly beautiful coastal drive along the Mendocino and Sonoma Coasts is not for the lighthearted, this road has curves and twists following the contour of the coastal mountains with the most spectacular ocean vistas imaginable.

If making no stops, the drive on Highway One from Albion to Jenner is just under two-hours, but we know that you will want to stop for photographs and to take in the amazing views. Gualala or Stewart’s Point are good stops for provisions, plus Fort Ross is a must-see historic State Park. This former Russian establishment was the hub of the southernmost Russian settlements in North America from 1812 to 1841.

From Jenner head east on Highway 116 through the redwoods and towards the town of Santa Rosa traveling through the Russian River Valley which is part of the Sonoma Coast appellation.  Our newly released 2019 Pinot Noir is from the Russian River Valley and is a perfect example of how pinot noir grapes excel in this cool environment. Plan on another 50-minute drive from Jenner to Santa Rosa with no stops. From Santa Rosa, you can make the choice to return to your point of departure in the Napa Valley or add another day through the Sonoma Coast appellations.

If you choose to add another day to your trip to explore the Sonoma Coast AVA, this area opens all kinds of possibilities and unique sites. This appellation runs from the Mendocino County border to the San Pablo Bay along the Sonoma County Coast. Since its establishment in 1987, this AVA has identified 18 individual subregions, including the Russian River AVA, the Petaluma Gap AVA where we grow grapes. The Sonoma Coast enjoys a beneficial cool coastal influence with additional moisture from rainfall and fog making it a great environment for growing chardonnay, pinot noir, syrah, and grenache grapes. Our Rosé of Pinot Noir, our ExS Pinot Noir and ExS Syrah are all grown with in the AVA and its sub appellations.

Over the last 23 years we have been producing premier wines from the illustrious Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino AVAs and sharing them with guests and club members for the last 15 years at our tasting room in Rutherford. Our suggested road trip is designed to give a deeper understanding about our northern California grape growing regions. And now with the longer summer nights and beautiful weather, it is a perfect time to roll down the windows, open the sunroof, or bring that top down and hit the road to check out our local AVAs!