Sunday, July 06, 2008

Wine and a Hike in the redwoods

It's not news to most people but here it is anyhow: California is full of things to do. For wine lovers, California is a diverse growing region with thousands of wine-related activities. But to return home after a truly rewarding experience in wine country is not always an easy achievement.

A lot of the time there is a cookie-cutter feel to many attractions. There pre-packaged tours and winery visits that start to look pretty typical. Most of the big name tours could be lifted from anywhere. Just insert different names where applicable.

Among the packed tasting rooms, the parade of buses and the drunk-filled limousines is a California wine country experience that really stands out as unique and fun. California Wine Hikes takes two great activities and combines them for some special memories and genuinely exclusive glimpses of the Golden State.

I've talked about California Wine Hikes in this space before as being something different I had heard about. Back in late May, I got to experience it firsthand.

My wife and I have our best hiking years behind us. We weren't looking for a death march with tough technical sections. So we were delighted with the trail chosen for us by Russ Beebe, owner, operator, guide and all-round great guy. We spent about half a day in the mountains at the south end of the San Franciscan peninsula, somewhere between San Mateo and the ocean. We saw huge redwoods, quiet ravines and an array of wildflowers. The traditional fog off the coast started the day. We ended it in full sun for our mid-afternoon lunch.

Of course, our walk was punctuated with visits to wineries like Thomas Fogarty and Savannah-Chanelle.

Russ' knowledge of the area, his running commentary on the flora and fauna and his contacts within the wine business makes for a memorable day out. Nowadays, I can't think of a trip to California without a wine hike in the itinerary.

(top photo: me and a redwood. Sorry about the focus. bottom photo: Me (left), my wife Audralee and Russ Beebe at Savannah Chanelle)
It's only a matter of time that this kind of thing shows up here. I'm sure BC is ready for one of these businesses dedicated to showing off the scenery and the wines in the various regions of the province.
Until then, make sure you book one of these hikes on your next trip to California.

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