Winter in Wine Country is a glorious affair, a way to escape the drearies while soaking in a little more sunshine in the Sonoma Valley. With warm weather beaming nearly all year round, it’s never a bad time to step out into nature before stepping into the tasting room. And the tiny town of Glen Ellen is the perfect place to do both.
One of California’s most famous authors once called this village in the Valley of the Moon home. Today, Jack London State Historic Park is named after him. Heed your own call of the wild and start your morning with a trek through the park, where ruins and old gravesites beckon the curious.
Two quick trails offer a take-it-easy approach, starting with a 1-mile trail that starts at the museum parking lot and winds its way down to the Wolf House ruins, all that’s left of a 26-room estate destroyed by fire in 1913, just before London and his wife, Charmian, could move in. A rickety staircase allows for a closer look at the home, which boasted nine fireplaces and many large rooms for entertaining.
Scenic vistas, hiking trails and historic buildings dot the 1,400-acre JackLondon State Historic Park in Glen Ellen. (Courtesy Tom Deininger)
Jack London’s gravesite is on a spur just off the main trail. Nearby, you’ll find the graves of two children who died on the property before London took it over. Despite never having known the children, London felt a kinship 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 hogs, as well as barns, silos, a cottage and the ruins of the Kohler and Frohling winery building.
Post-hike, head to Glen Ellen’s Benziger Winery and get off your feet. 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, which includes planting a garden of plants designed to keep insects away from the vineyards. The tractor tram tour rides through the vineyards, proffers panoramic views of the nearby mountains and ends back at the winery for a tasting of four wines.
Glen Ellen’s Benizger Winery offers guided tram tractor tours of the vineyards. (Benziger Family Winery)
If exploring Jack London’s literary history is at the top of your to-do list, but you want someone else to do the planning, Active Wine Adventures offers a Sonoma Call of the Wild hiking tour that includes stops at London’s ranch, vineyards and other historic sites with a focus on stories from his life. It’s an easy hike, about 3.5 miles roundtrip. And the tour ends with a wine tasting and vineyard lunch.
More hike + wine options
If you prefer your hikes on the floral side, rather than the literary side, head for the 25-acre Sonoma Botanical Garden — formerly known as Quarryhill — where the year-round blossoms represent the flora of California, as well as China, …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News
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