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Fall 2006 | Biking in Sonoma

Fall 2006 | Biking in Sonoma

One hour outside of San Francisco, Bacchus Bicycle Tours explores the concept of wine tasting while bike riding. (It's not as dangerous as it sounds.)

Offering day, weekend, and weeklong tours through the three river valleys of Sonoma County (Dry Creek, Alexander, and Russian River), Bacchus Bicycle Tours has adapted the concept of wine tasting while bike riding, popular abroad, into a blissful romp for the active wine lover.

A typical day on a Bacchus tour starts in Healdsburg, where you'll hop onto a sturdy Bianchi hybrid, or for the racier set a specialized road bike, and roll to toast the morning at a winery near town. Then you're off! Hit the open road for 7 to 12 blissful miles of winding canopied lanes.

Bacchus is owned and operated by Joshua Adler, a veteran bicycle guide who led tours in the wine producing regions of Burgundy, Provence, and the Loire Valley, and Elizabeth Jones, a former caviar purveyor and participant in the 2006 AIDS/Lifecycle. Josh and Elizabeth are hip and knowledgeable, yet restrained--offering as much or as little information and bicycle support as you require. It's a perfect fit for a wine connoisseur with a thirst to experience familiar terroir with a sun-kissed palate or a cyclist training for the cultural aspects of the Tour de France. You can certainly tailor this tour to accommodate a romantic day trip or group reunion without excessive handling from your guides.

After your morning roll, you'll be hungry for the gourmet picnic presented in the magnificently maintained vegetable gardens of the eccentric and prolific Preston Vineyards. The feast is a healthy assortment of fresh local salads, Preston's fresh baked bread, organic veggies and meats, cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery, a Tsar Nicoulai caviar flight, and of course Preston wine.

Following lunch is a lazy ramble back toward town, with stops to taste at one or two more wineries, depending on your mood. Passalacqua offers a tasting patio with a view of the valley and nips off the bottle to fill your glass. Wander the grounds with your lover and a glass of Passalacqua's sublime Sauvignon Blanc. If the bacchanalia affects your balance, a van is always on call to carry you and your wine spoils to the next destination or back to home base. As the sun begins to sink, you'll wend your way back to Healdsburg, a historically gay-friendly enclave offering artisanal gifts and even more tasting rooms. Tours traditionally conclude with gelato and espresso on the square.

Bacchus Bicycle Tours is a must for any visitor to the San Francisco Bay area who wishes to experience the truly agrarian heart of California's wine producing region--which regularly out-produces France--in an eco-friendly, active, and liberal setting. After your buzz has ebbed and flowed like the Rhone, you'll feel more than an hour away from the bustle of the city.

For a day trip, $139 covers bike rental, all tasting and admittance costs, lunch, snacks, bottled water, and van support. Multiday tours include accommodations at the exclusive Healdsburg Hotel; package lengths and prices vary. Private transportation from San Francisco to Healdsburg is available on all tour dates for an additional $30. For more information and to book online, visit Bacchus Bicycle Tours or call 415-615-BIKE.
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