Tour the serene side of California’s Napa County and leave the crowded wineries behind.
Trade brake lights on California's hectic Highway 29 for serene wine country vistas. From Rutherford to Winters, Highway 128 winds east from Napa Valley past lakes, some great wineries, and—best of all—lots of open country. To enjoy all 56 miles, allow an afternoon. Area code is 707.
- LA LUNA MARKET AND TAQUERIA In Rutherford, find spicy classic tacos for $1.75 and carnitas-filled burritos for $6.25—delicious alternatives to the $30 plates of foie gras and tartare in three-star restaurants in towns nearby. Picnic tables outside. 963-3211.
- KULETO ESTATE WINERY The twisty mile-long dirt road to restaurant guru Pat Kuleto's Italianate villa is only half the fun. Sipping fine zinfandel while viewing Lake Hennessey makes the stop worth the $25 tasting fee. By appointment. 963-9750, kuletoestate.com.
- NICHELINI WINERY At the area's oldest family-owned winery, taste picnic-friendly sauvignon vert and three other wines for free before retiring to the walnut grove to bowl a game of bocce. 963-0717, www.nicheliniwinery.com.
- LAKE BERRYESSA An eight-mile northern detour on Berryessa Knoxville Road drops you at this reservoir alive with trout and bass. At the visitor center, pick up a trail map and bird checklist, then venture out to spot ospreys, hawks, herons, and other species. 966-2111, usbr.gov/mp/berryessa.
- MONTICELLO DAM Amid hills studded with oaks and manzanita at Lake Berryessa's sparsely populated southern end, pull over to view this 304-foot dam, built in 1957. Snap a photo—for proof—of the awesome bell-mouthed spillway, which looks like a huge bathtub drain.
- WINTERS Near the outskirts of this quiet town of 6,000, follow the signs to—where else?—Main Street, home to many galleries. On the first Saturday of every month local artists show pottery, quilts, mixed media, and paintings. winterschamber.com.
Illustration by Michael Klein
This article was first published in March 2007. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.