Head to Glen Ellen for wine tasting and wine trails

Winter in the wine country is a glorious affair, a way to escape the gloom while soaking up some more sun in the Sonoma Valley. With warm weather radiating most of the year, it’s never a bad time to get out into nature before entering the tasting room. And the small town of Glen Ellen is the perfect place to do both.

One of California’s most famous authors once called this Moon Valley village his home. Today, Jack London State Historic Park bears his name. Heed your own call of nature, and start your morning with a hike through the park, where ruins and ancient tombs draw the curious.

Two fast trails provide an easy approach, starting with a 1 mile trail that begins at the museum parking lot and descends to the ruins of Wolf House, all that remains of a 26-room estate destroyed by fire in 1913, just before London and his wife Charmian could move in. A rickety staircase allows you to get a closer look at the house, which had nine fireplaces and many large rooms for entertaining.

Scenic views, hiking trails and historic buildings dot the 1,400-acre JackLondon State Historic Park in Glen Ellen. (Courtesy of Tom Deininger)

Jack London’s grave is on a spur just off the main trail. Nearby you will find the graves of two children who died on the property before London took it over. Although he never knew the children, London felt close to their spirits and asked to be buried near them.

The second historic trail, dubbed Beauty Ranch, takes visitors to several structures, including the Pig Palace, built to hold 200 pigs, as well as barns, silos, a cabin, and the ruins of the Kohler and Frohling cellar building.

After the hike, head to Glen Ellen’s Benziger Winery and get up. While there are several tour and tasting options at this biodynamic estate, the 75-minute tractor tour is perhaps the best way to learn about the property’s innovative farming practices, including planting a garden of plants. designed to repel insects from vineyards. The tractor-tram tour passes through vineyards, offers panoramic views of nearby mountains, and ends at the winery for a tasting of four wines.

Glen Ellen’s Benizger Vineyard offers guided tram tours of the vineyards. (Benziger family vineyard)

If exploring Jack London’s literary history is high on your to-do list, but you want someone else to take care of the planning, Active Wine Adventures offers a Sonoma Call of Hike. the Wild which includes stops at the ranch, wineries and other historic London sites. sites focusing on stories from his life. It’s an easy hike, about 3.5 miles round trip. And the tour ends with a wine tasting and lunch at the vineyard.

More hiking + wine options

If you prefer your hikes on the floral rather than literary side, head to the 25-acre Sonoma Botanical Garden – formerly known as Quarryhill – where year-round flowers represent the flora of California, as well as China, Japan, Tibet, Yunnan, India and Nepal. Over 90 percent of the Asian collection has been grown from seeds collected from annual expeditions to these regions.

Next, stop at Mayo Family Winery, just half a mile away, to sample a flight of six wines. Or, if you’re hungry, Les Pascals pastry shop is the place to go. The authentic French bakery, owned by Pascal and Pascale Merle, serves decadent pastries (the chocolate croissants are divine), sandwiches (prosciutto and brie!) And quiches.

A more challenging hike awaits in the nearby Kenwood at Kunde Estate, where fourth-generation winemaker Jeff and Roberta Kunde and their dogs, Cooper and Kalie, will join you on a hike through the estate and vineyard, passing by oak forests, native grasslands and chaparral as you head towards the Mayacamas mountains. The moderately strenuous four-hour hike ends with a wine tasting and wine lunch. Dogs are welcome on a leash.

And the park surrounding Sonoma’s Bartholomew Estate Vineyards & Winery offers a windmill, a bustling duck pond, and a three-mile trail for guests to stroll around on their own. The trail, rated as moderate to difficult, winds through mature oaks, madrones, redwoods, and vineyards before culminating with a view of the San Francisco Bay. Next, stop in the tasting room to taste wines from the vineyard’s certified organic vines.


If you are going to

Jack London State Historic Park: $ 10 per vehicle. This historic park is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm at 2400 London Ranch Road in Glen Ellen; https://jacklondonpark.com.

Benziger Winery Tram Tour: This winery tour ($ 10 to $ 35) runs at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Friday through Sunday at the winery, 1883 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen; www.benziger.com.

Active wine adventure: This travel agency offers guided wine tours, including a Sonoma Call of the Wild Tour year-round. The tour costs $ 169 per person (plus lunch and tasting fees); www.activewineadventures.com.

Sonoma Botanical Garden: Admission is $ 8 to $ 12. The gardens are open 9 am to 4 pm daily except Tuesday at 12841 Highway 12 in Glen Ellen; https://sonomabg.org.

Mayo family vineyard: Tastings are $ 25 per person. Open 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily at 13101 Arnold Drive in Glen Ellen; www.mayofamilywinery.com.

Pastry shop Les Pascals: Opens at 7 a.m. weekends, 6 a.m. weekdays (closed Wednesdays) at 13758 Arnold Drive in Glen Ellen; www.lespascalspatisserie.com.

Kunde Family Winery Hike: This winery on Highway 12 near Kenwood offers dog friendly hikes in the estate that include lunch and wine tasting ($ 90) and more relaxed hikes in the estate ($ 40, BYO bag lunch ) throughout the year. Find the 2022 hiking dates soon to be published on www.kunde.com.

Bartholomew Estate Vineyards & Winery: The park and trails are open daily from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 1000 Vineyard Lane in Sonoma. Book a wine tasting reservation at www.bartholomewate.com.

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