• Countryside Californian vineyards
  • Country life Wine and dine

Producing some of the best food and wine in the United States, the rolling hills of the Napa Valley and nearby Sonoma are a magnet for gourmands and wine lovers.

The vineyards may not be as extensive nor the wineries as grand as their European counterparts, but what Napa lacks in Old World tradition it makes up for in warmth and informality. Forget about snooty sommeliers and their pompous pretensions: here, wine tasting is always a pleasure rather than a trial. Napa has impeccable French-inspired cuisine, a benign climate and some beautiful scenery, so it's hardly surprising that San Franciscans flock here year-round for some refined R’n’R.

Do go/Don’t go

The exciting autumn harvest is known locally as ‘the Crush’. You might want to time your visit and go just after or just before, when the weather is perfect and the crowds less madding.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes Direct flights from the UK land at San Francisco’s International Airport (www.flysfo.com) | which is a little more than an hour’s drive from the southern end of the valley.
  • Trains You can dine as you admire the splendid scenery if you travel on the somewhat touristy Napa Valley Wine Train that runs the length of the valley (www.winetrain.com); you’ll still have to drive from San Francisco, though.
  • Automobiles A car is ideal for getting around the valley | and handy for getting here in the first place | although during the autumn harvest the main roads can crawl with tourist traffic. All the same | this is great driving country; treat yourself to a convertible and let the wind rush through your hair.
  • Taxis Black Tie Taxi (+1 707 259 1000) operates 24 hours a day and serves the entire Napa Valley area. Keep their number handy, in case you get too tipsy to drive home.