May 11, 2010

Wine Country Walks 1: Glen Ellen, California

My first "Wine Country Walk" article—about wining, dining, and walking in Glen Ellen, with a little history thrown in—has just gone online at Weekend Walk.

This article is the first in a series that will explore the many ways people can enjoy the wine country on foot. Most of the time that will mean slipping into a good pair of walking or hiking shoes to travel from inn to inn. But it could also mean being based in one inn and walking out to nearby attractions, or getting around via bike rather than foot. The essential ingredient is to leave the car behind, hitting the trail to enjoy nature. Since I live in the town of Sonoma, California, I'll be doing many Wine Country Walks in Sonoma and Napa Counties, certainly. But expect walks from any other excellent wine region in the U. S., Canada--and even beyond.

And just because we're walking doesn't mean we have to suffer. Wine Country Walks will probably never involve a tent or dehydrated food. Don't get me wrong: I've done plenty of backpacking and  enjoyed it. But these ambles through wine country are something different. I'll sleep between quality sheets, quaff excellent wines, and dine well—even superbly.

In Europe, walking from inn to inn is commonly done. For a small fee, innkeepers and hoteliers will pack a bracing lunch for the next leg of your trip. While you're on the trail, they'll cart your baggage to the next accommodation on your itinerary. When you show up 10 or 15 or 20 miles later, the bags are waiting in your room.

Why we don't embrace such a system in this country is puzzling. Over the years I've had many conversations with people on the subject, and everyone agrees it's a great idea. But nothing ever happens. The founders of Weekend Walk hope to change that by highlighting the joys of inn-to-inn walking.

So check out my first Wine Country Walk: Glen Ellen, California and then go hit the trail!

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