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Traveling in Wine Country

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Northern California's vineyards are world-class travel destinations

California's wines are famous all over the world. If you love wine, try some of these wine adventures -- you'll be supporting local agriculture and culture that contributes so much to life in Northern California.

Get on the Wine Train

The Napa Valley Wine Train will take you on a journey you won't soon forget. Picture a leisurely three-hour tour through beautiful countryside, enjoying a gourmet meal and, of course, Napa's wines. Travel in Pullman Dining cars that date back to the early 1900s. The Wine Train departs from downtown Napa and serves lunch or dinner as it wends its way to St. Helena and back. Groups can reserve a car or the entire train for special events, including weddings. To learn more, visit winetrain.com.

Taste Napa wines with a market tour, cooking class

Combine local produce, wine and culinary expertise at a farmers market tour and cooking class with Julie Logue-Riordan, a Napa-based cooking instructor and private chef. The class features a tour of the Napa farmers market, wine tasting and cooking demonstration followed by a three-course lunch paired with Napa wines. Classes are offered twice a week, but space is limited so call ahead. Check out cookingwithjulie.com/farmers-market-tour to learn more.

Take the Sonoma Wine Road

If you want to spend a beautiful day or three wandering through wine country and sampling its bounty, travel Northern Sonoma County's Wine Road. This region encompasses three valleys (Alexander, Dry Creek and Russian River) known for different varieties of wine. Buy a pass for one day or three -- one price will get you free tastings at more than 50 wineries, as well as discounted wine purchases at participating locations. Visit www.wineroad.com to plan your trip.

Study up with wine classes

The University of California, Davis is one of the best places in the country for an aspiring winemaker to get an education. The campus offers classes in grape growing, wine making and the business of wine (including marketing and much more). But even if you aren't planning on making wine your career, you can take classes through the UC Davis extension on subjects like wine appreciation. Check the web site extension.ucdavis.edu/unit/winemaking for more information.

Discover the wine that changed everything

The 2008 film "Bottle Shock" tells the true story of how California wines were discovered at a tasting in Paris in 1976, kicking off a revolution in the world of wine. The wine that caused the stir was made at Chateau Montelena, two miles north of Calistoga. The film was shot on location at the winery, which now offers a Bottle Shock Tour featuring a film discussion, tasting and guided tour of the property. Reservations are required. For details, visit www.montelena.com/visit/tastingRoom.

Finish up your exploration of California wine by picking up a few bottles or a case of your favorite, to stock your home collection.

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