Holidays

Long Weekend Getaways

by Sherri Eisenberg

TASTE AMERICA'S FINEST WINE AND FOOD

Fly into: San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

Check out: Napa Valley

The lure: Well, wine of course. And good food with wine. But also that soothing pastoral landscape

The experience: Summer marks the end of the rainy season, and everything brightens to a gorgeous shade of green. Leisure is your prime pursuit, so try to avoid the overcrowded main thoroughfares and spend some time simply touring the quiet rural two-lane byways such as Silverado Trail and Spring Mountain Road. That's where you'll really get an eyeful of an older (and slower) way of life. Summer is busy, no way around it, so head for the tasting rooms at Domaine Chandon (known for its sparkling wines), Nickel & Nickel (known for its single-vineyard cabernets), and Frog's Leap (known for its sauvignon blanc and merlots) earlier in the day rather than later. That will help induce a nap back in your room at the Auberge du Soleil. The Relais & Chateaux inn serves amazing food in a dining room overlooking an olive grove. But we're going to go ahead and say it: Everybody should eat at the French Laundry once in their lives. Thomas Keller's tiny restaurant isn't easy to get into, so start working for that reservation way in advance. Tip: We hear that faxing in a reservation request often yields better results than trying to get through to the oft-busy reservation line. Also, you might give OpenTable.com a shot.

Oh, and: Spend a morning at COPIA, an institute that's dedicated to all things food and wine. The center offers daily tastings as well as cooking classes and tours of its garden.

Auberge du Soleil
Tel: 800 348 5406
Doubles from $700

The French Laundry
Tel: 707 944 2380
Fax: 707 944 1974

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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