The Coolest Hikes, Bike Trails and Parks in California, According to Winemakers | Wine Enthusiast
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The Coolest Hikes, Bike Trails and Parks in California, According to Winemakers

Winemakers are an adventurous bunch who love getting out into the natural world, and not just to spend time in the vineyard. Surrounded by northern California’s beautiful nature preserves and miles of Pacific Ocean coastline, most Napa or Sonoma producers will openly gush about more than a few favorite trails and outdoor retreats. Read on to see how they get away from it all.

california mountains
Mount Veeder/Photo by Jake Stangel

Alexandre Remy

Managing partner/winemaker, Atlas Wine Company

A marathoner, Napa-based Remy loves Oat Hill Mine Trail in Calistoga for mountain biking. It’s “technical, challenging and [has] some of the best views of the valley.” For trail running, he heads to Skyline Wilderness Park, near to Atlas’s office. His favorite destination for family hikes is Westwood Hills Park in Napa. “The spider tree is a favorite for the kids to climb on.” Another great choice, Limantour Beach is a hidden gem close to Point Reyes Station that has great sand dunes. As for road biking, “nothing can beat the classic Mount Veeder loop. My favorite way is to do it clockwise.”

california travel road
Spring Mountain Road/Alamy

Alberto Bianchi

Winemaker, Newton Vineyard

One of Bianchi’s favorite activities is to rent a boat with friends on Bodega Bay to fish for salmon, tuna and, when in season, Dungeness crab. “It’s a great way to be in touch with wild nature and also for cooking great food back home.”

For more of an athletic challenge, however, he heads to Spring Mountain Road, which connects Santa Rosa to St. Helena through the Mayacamas Mountain range. “It immerses you in nature, creeks, vineyards and the shade of the local trees. On top of the Spring Mountain appellation [where Newton is located], the view is incomparable, particularly early in the morning when the lower part of the valley is still covered with fog. It seems there is no land below you but just clouds with mountains floating.”

dock california bay
Bodega Bay/Photo by Dawn Heumann

Tanner Scheer

Winemaker, Red Car Wine

“Fishing and the outdoors have been an integral part of my life from the time I was young,” says Scheer. As an angler in Sonoma County, he feels fortunate to have so many options within daytrip distance. His personal favorite is Lake Sonoma. “I often find myself suspended in admiration of the geology all around me: sheer canyon walls riddled with bent, folded and fractured rock, enshrouded by giant redwoods. Being a kayak angler, I am able to take in all of the sights and sounds that the lake has to offer, all the while getting exercise, doing what I love to do.”

Ana Diogo-Draper

Director of winemaking, Artesa Vineyards & Winery

The mother of young children, Diogo-Draper’s go-to for both a good run and an easy family hike is the Russian River Valley’s River-front Regional Park. “It is an easy loop, by the water, with a beautiful little redwood grove.”

Another Sonoma County favorite is Pepperwood Preserve, where she’s a devoted member. “I first went there on a school field trip, and absolutely fell in love with the project. They brilliantly mix science and art and offer the most interesting guided hikes. It got hit by the 2017 fires, so it is definitely something that needs our support.”

california trees park
Armstrong Woods/Photo by Alanna Hale

Maggie Kruse

Winemaker, Jordan Vineyard & Winery

Kruse and her family hike in Armstrong Woods State Natural Reserve, “an absolutely beautiful redwood forest. There are hiking trails for all ability levels and, in the heat of summer, it’s always a little cooler.” When Kruse has adventurous out-of-town guests, she takes them to zipline through the redwoods in Occidental. “Many people can say they have walked along the redwoods, but how many people can say they have soared above them? The views are absolutely incredible, and the staff at Sonoma Canopy Tours is very knowledgeable, safe and patient.”

Jesse Katz

Founder/winemaker, Devil Proof Vineyards/Aperture Cellars

Healdsburg-based Katz loves Lake Sonoma. “There are beautiful hikes, and you can rent a boat and go around the large horseshoe-shaped lake that is nine miles one way, and seven miles the other.” There’s also an amazing rope swing on the west leg of the trail, which, he says, “is just in view of one of my favorite vineyards, Rockpile Ridge, where we farm and do a single-vineyard for Devil Proof.” He likes to swim and picnic there. “I don’t get to do it often, but it’s pretty amazing to drink Devil Proof Rockpile Ridge from the lake while looking up at the stunning vineyard.”

Julie Rothberg

President, Medlock Ames Winery

The mother of three-year-old twins, Rothberg’s outdoor options are generally kid-friendly and timed with her children in mind. “One of my favorite options is to put them on the back of our bikes and ride around town, pointing out cows along the way, ending at Wicked Slush in Healdsburg for a treat.” Foothills Regional Park in Windsor, close to her home, is ideal for hiking with or without kids. “By myself, I like the challenging steep hill paths which are often pretty empty, and, with the kids, we turn it into a nature scavenger hunt.”

Heidi von der Mehden

Winemaker, Merry Edwards Winery

Von Der Mehden’s favorite place to get away is Trione-Annadel State Park. “When my husband and I first met, our Friday night ‘date’ was a run through the park, with pizza and beer afterwards at Russian River [Brewing Company].” Now, with two little boys, they hike the park instead. “I love that it transitions from open fields with giant oak trees to dense forests. We are so lucky to have it right in the middle of Santa Rosa with so many neighborhood access points.”


Wine Enthusiast encourages readers to be safe and follow federal and local regulations as it pertains to travel and social engagement. We’ll continue to report on the coronavirus pandemic as it pertains to the world of wine, as well as offer stories and resources for your wine-travel needs for when it is clear to get back out and about.