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What to Do in Wine Country — Even if You Don’t Drink Wine.


“ N


apa? Don’t they make good auto parts?” says


Patrick Mukaida, director of hospitality at Ferrari- Carano Winery in Califor- nia’s Sonoma County. He’s joking, of course. Sonoma County has a friendly rivalry with Napa’s better-known grape-grow- ing region about 50 miles south. While Napa gets more press (and more traf- fic), the Sonoma area is the true birthplace of California Wine Country, with the first commercial vineyard planted there in 1857. Many


Sonoma County wineries are family-owned, with generation after generation farming the same land for more than a century. The area’s charms ex-


tend beyond grapes, including a dramatic coast, redwoods, and oak-studded hills. The charming hamlet of Healds- burg offers dining, shopping, and cozy inns. Though vine- yards dot the land- scape, you need not be a wine connois- seur to love the area.


24 MILITARY OFFICER AUGUST 2016 Here are ideas for a So-


noma Valley Wine Country getaway — minus the wine. See trees. Stroll through


Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve


— and look up. Coast red- woods are the world’s tallest living things (some tower above 350 feet) and can live well over a thou- sand years. The 1,400-year- old Colonel Armstrong Tree is the grove’s old- est. It’s named after Col. James Armstrong, whose dream was to preserve the redwood grove for future generations to enjoy. Call (707) 869-2015. Ride on. Pedal your way along Sonoma County’s country roads on a guided bike tour. Experienced bicyclists, who are experts on the area’s history, lead the way. You’ll ride about 16-25 miles, taking breaks at scenic stops, and will be treated to a wine-country picnic. Contact Wine Country Bikes at (866) 922-4537 or Getaway Adventures at 800-499- BIKE (2453). Ditch the diet.Healds-


burg is a foodie’s paradise. Two best bets: Sample creative, eclectic garden- sourced dishes and house- made pastas served in small-plate portions at Chalkboard (www .chalkboardhealds burg.com), a casual eatery. For an elegant splurge, Chef Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen (www.dryc reekkitchen.com) is famous for its fabulous six-course tasting menu. — Maryann Hammers


PHOTOS: TWENTY20


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