Travel the Road Less Taken in California Wine Country

Sip and savor without the stress of driving.

Now that the grapes have been harvested and the holiday crowds have dwindled, Wine Country is quiet, calm and ripe for an off-season visit. If you’re looking to mix-up your routine visit and try an unexpected tour, Sunset recently highlighted a few unique ways to experience the region in ways you might not have imagined. Here are some of our favorites:

Bohemian Highway Travel Co.

Tours from this nascent Sonoma-based outfitter trade in intimate and luxurious adventure—each Bohemian Highway trip pairs up to seven passengers with one guide in a classic-but-modernized Land Rover Defender or a tricked-out Mercedes Sprinter van. The farm tour, one of the most popular offerings, stops at a working organic farm and gives visitors a chance to harvest vegetables before stopping at private (and often family-owned) wineries for tastings and other experiences. Drivers provide coolers stocked with snacks and non-alcoholic beverages. Of course, passengers can drink their own wine along the way, too. $95 per hour, plus additional fees.

Paper Napan Walkabouts

The best way to explore Napa’s up-and-coming Rail Arts District is by foot—precisely the type of itinerary offered by relatively young outfitter Paper Napan Walkabouts. On the half-day walkabouts, participants learn about murals from globally renowned street artists, taste world-class wines from small-batch wineries, and sample California cuisine. Some tours also include tastings from urban nano-breweries. Walks parallel the Napa Valley Vine Trail and offer prime views of the Napa River and downtown. $40-$85 per person.

Wombat Charters

Small-boat tours with Wombat Charters offer up-close and personal looks at a part of Wine Country few visitors ever get to see: the Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area. This region, at the southern part of the Napa-Sonoma county border, comprises more than 15,000 acres of bay lands, tidal sloughs, and wetland habitats. During three-hour daytime or sunset tours, guides regale up to six passengers with information about the region and help look for wildlife, including birds, seals, otters, and more. Riders are welcome to bring wine and snacks aboard the boats. $95-$150 per person.

Get the full list here.