When you think of wine country vacations, lazy days of wine tastings, Michelin-starred meals and gatherings at art bars might come to mind. This is what my U.S. Marine husband thought and why he distinctly did not want to go – at first.
After I promised to create an itinerary designed to please his Alpha male temperament, he relented and decided to look forward to a vacation sans children. And I eagerly went about researching the various ways a man, who does not like wine, loves comfort food, has a fetish for log cabins, and would rather join a pickup game of basketball than rub shoulders with elegantly dressed aficionados of the grape, could have a good time.
You’d think there was nothing else to do in the Napa Valley but drink wine and tour vineyards, right? And yeah, you could spend all of your time only doing that, but like most tourist destinations there are plenty of fun, adrenaline pumping activities for the man who lives to feel the blood coursing through his veins.
I feel the need…the need for speed
Here are a few top-rated, fun activities that do not include sipping and swirling:
- Car Racing Experience – Audi Sportscar Experience, Sonoma Raceway, Sonoma
- Hiking – Skyline Wilderness Park, Napa
- Ballooning – Balloons Above the Valley, Napa
- Biking – Napa Valley Bike Tours, Yountville
- Moped or Harley? You can choose at NVR Adventures, Napa
- Kayaking – Kayak Napa Valley, Napa Valley
- Trapezing – Trapeze Pro, Sonoma
- Crossfit – Gotta get your fix, even on vacation? Try these locations: EA’s Crossfit, Sonoma and Crossfit Napa Valley, Napa
Day Trip to San Francisco
As lovely as the Napa Valley is, you might get tired of the area after a few days. This is a great opportunity for you to take a day trip into San Francisco. The city by the bay is less than an hour away and has tons of things to keep you busy.
- Go paragliding – Oxygen Paragliding
- Tour Alcatraz (get there early to miss the crowds)
- Grab one of the best sandwiches at the Wooly Pig, or
- Stop by gastropub The Willows for craft beer, awesome food, board games & pin ball
DiRosa Museum – Collection of eccentric art that even non-art lovers can appreciate plus grounds for hiking. Bring your athletic shoes and take the guided tour.
Yes, Virginia, there is beer in the Napa Valley.
For some, the brewing of beer is an art form, just like it is for fans of the grape. Take the time to visit some of the best breweries in the valley and tour their facilities. Not only will you learn more than you thought possible about the making of beer, but you’ll get to taste some great brews:
- Napa Smith Brewery, Napa, $
- Sonoma Springs Brewing Company, Sonoma, $ I’m not a beer drinker but this was a cool place to relax. Great selection, friendly environs and crazy-knowledgeable staff.
- Carneros Brewing Company, Sonoma, $
And without further ado… The Vineyards
The Alpha male might not be interested in wine, the result of creativity, artfulness and science, but certainly once he realizes that the original process begins, essentially, with farming and ranching; hands in the dirt, squinting in the sun, sloshing through rain… He”ll realize growing grapes is hard work which is something he can respect.
And then there is the process of turning grapes to wine, the art, the science…the technological techniques, tools and gadgetry required. Once he discovers the process is interesting, the land beautiful and rugged, he”ll be looking forward to the tours, while the wife enjoy the tastings.
For a non-wine drinker, I was surprised by how attentively my husband listened during the tours. His questions about the process were so detailed and precise, I had to ask him if he was interested in developing his own vineyard. His answer? “Of course not, but I could if I wanted too.” Of course, darling.
I’ve included a selection of small, eclectic artisanal wineries with great views, knowledgeable staffs and interesting, personalized tours sure to interest the Alpha male:
Robert Biale Vineyards, Napa
White Rock Vineyards, Napa
Palmaz Vineyards, Napa
Hendry Vineyards, Napa
O’Brien Estate, Napa
Porter Family Vineyards, Napa
Hanzell Vineyards, Sonoma
Kenzo Estate Winery, Napa
Have you read the rest of Winecation: The Alpha Male’s Guide to Napa? If not, start with Winecation: The Alpha Male’s Guide to Napa – Where to Stay and follow up with Winecation: The Alpha Male’s Guide to Napa – Where to Eat.