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Autumn in Napa offers biking, relaxation, indulgence

Napa County is gorgeous this time of year, with endless rows of yellow and orange leaves lining every vineyard along the 35 miles between the towns of Napa and Calistoga.

The county offers a relaxed atmosphere, outdoor activities, city indulgences and the earthy aroma of crushed grapes – just two hours away from Nevada County.

“When you come to Napa, you get the opportunity to slow down and relax,” said Beth Carmichael, executive director of the Napa Valley Conference and Visitors Center. “It calms your soul.”



You may want to start the day with a brisk hike along Lake Berryessa in eastern Napa County, known to locals as one of the most serene destinations around.

“Lake Berryessa has more shoreline than Lake Tahoe,” Carmichael said. “It’s very peaceful.”




Campgrounds, picnic areas and fishing abound, with waterways offering bass, rainbow trout, brown trout, bluegill and catfish.

Cyclists flock to Napa County for its mild climate and rolling, tree-shaded highways and side roads. A relatively easy new bike trail just opened up along the Napa Valley Wine Train, visitor’s center staff said.

After your workout, why not take advantage of a massage or spa treatment? Calistoga offers plenty of day spas, including Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort, which offers mud baths and massages that will turn even the most knotted-up Type-A personality into butter.

To refuel after all that relaxing, grab something quick and delicious for lunch at the gourmet deli and wine shop, Dean and Deluca, or the popular drive-in burger joint, Taylor’s Refresher, in the quaint town of St. Helena.

Taste of Napa

No trip to Napa County is complete without wine-tasting and shopping. Wineries big and small have friendly staff eager to share tastings with curious tourists.

“We have nearly 400 wineries here,” Carmichael said. “Coming to Napa County is like experiencing one of the world’s best wine shops.”

“Each winery provides such a unique experience,” Carmichael said. “Each one represents the personality of the owner, whether it’s a smaller winery or a larger one like Mondavi or Rubicon Estate.”

The elaborate Castello di Amorosa, a winery north of St. Helena, offers intrigue with a its reproduction of a 12-century Tuscan castle, drawbridge and dungeon. Daryl Sattui, of V. Sattui Winery, funded the construction of the castle and grounds, which took 13 years. Tours and tastings are conducted daily and cost $25; visit http://www.castellodiamorosa.com to make a reservation.

Once the vino has loosened you up, you may be in the mood to shop. For the serious shopper, Napa Premium Outlets in Napa and the V Marketplace in Yountville offer some really good deals on name brands.

Downtown St. Helena is a great place to stroll, with great shops, cafes and art galleries.

When you’re ready to don the new threads from your shopping spree and go out to dinner, you’ll have many great restaurants from which to choose. The most famous and well-reputed is the Wine Spectator’s Greystone Restaurant, operated by the Culinary Institute of America, north of St. Helena.

Every seat in the restaurant offers a view of the well-trained chefs at work, committed to making the most scrumptious seasonal cuisine.

You also can see autumn colors from the terrace or cozy up by the fireplace in the lounge.

For more information about Napa Valley attractions, visit the Napa Valley Conference and Visitors Bureau at http://www.napavalley.org or call the bureau at (707) 226-5813.

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To contact Staff Writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm@theunion.com or call 477-4236.


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