Red, White and BreathtakingIyna Bort Caruso
The wine country region of Northern California is much more than world-class vineyards and cultivated cuisine. It is a state of mind. With its unparalleled natural beauty, temperate climate and diverse cultural opportunities, it is a luxury living destination for those who expect the very best and want to enjoy it in an unhurried, unspoiled setting.
Located about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, the counties of Sonoma and Napa are the region’s best-known locales, where nearly hundreds of vineyards, many spas and golf courses keep even the most discriminating connoisseur busy.
Vineyards have thrived in this unique part of northern California since the mid-1800s. Wineries became a booming industry in the last 40 years as visitors from around the world came to sample premier vintages, savor local cuisine and enjoy myriad recreational activities.
Top Wine Country properties run the gamut of western ranches and sprawling vineyard estates to exquisite villas and quaint Victorians. Some towns, such as Santa Rosa, offer a flight of cosmopolitan options such as museums, art galleries and nightclubs. With a population of 150,000, it is known as the cultural hub of area.
Most communities, however, embrace small-town sophistication and let the natural beauty of the area speak for itself. Sebastopol, due west of Santa Rosa, was once famous as an apple-growing region and still hosts an annual Apple Blossom Festival. Note: If you continue west from Sebastopol, you’ll find yourself in the toney seaside hamlet of Bodega Bay, made famous as the setting for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.
Old and new mix perfectly in historic Healdsburg. Surrounded by majestic redwood forests and pastoral valleys it is a favorite jumping-off point for wine country safaris. Local farmers contribute to the pervasive “farm to table” culinary culture.
Saint Helena is in the heart of the Napa Valley, east of Sonoma, and home to many top tier properties. Strict zoning has contributed to a rustic ambience throughout Napa County. Properties however, are anything but rustic. A vineyard estate with all the trimmings can fetch upwards of $25 million.