From the pages of I RVing: Summer 2022

Vacationing on the Vine

Embark on a wine-country tour that matures mile by mile, from San Fran to Walla Walla

WE’LL CONFESS OUTRIGHT: We’re overdue a trip with some maturity. No offense to all those bright, busy, beachy vacays—we’ve done those, love ‘em, and will do ‘em again—but there’s something about slowing down. Putting it in park. Pausing as you taste the fruit of the land. Parents can suddenly feel like adults again. Empty nesters can savor their second youth. Most often, folks think small when they consider a wine country tour. Like Napa or Paso Robles. But wine country is far bigger than any single valley in any single state. (We hear you, Virginia.) And in your RV, you can cover more ground, taste more varietals, and make more memories than the average traveler. Our ambitious route pours through four wine valleys, so you can hit the high notes across three states—whether you’re discovering a new vintage in Napa Valley or cracking open a bottle over Crater Lake’s mirror-blue waters.

A Full-Bodied Wine Tour

Starting in San Francisco, head north across the Golden Gate bridge along CA-121, the road which connects Sonoma and Napa Valley. The two valleys are about 30 minutes apart, and this trip is all about not rushing. When you’ve had your fill, we recommend heading north to Oregon on I-5, but you do have other choices. Taking the coastal route on US-101 North, gives you the option of going all John Muir in the woods (Page 63). Either way, it’s about 600 miles of road between you and Willamette Valley, where The Vintage Trailer Resort awaits amid a sea of pinot noir.
Your final leg starts north on I-5 toward Portland before steering east on I-84. With the Colombia River and the Washington border on your driver’s side, you’ll travel 200 miles before you actually cross into the Evergreen State at Exit 179. But only a half hour east along US-12 is the semi-arid, flavor-rich, alluringly alliterative Walla Walla Valley. And trust us, it delivers the perfect finish.

Arrive Ripe in Time

Whether you have two weeks or two months for a trip, use the August-September timeframe as the axis for your planning. August carefully nests you in the middle of Sonoma and Napa’s peak seasons. For the latter, its harvest season, which means workers in the fields, winepresses in action, and gorgeous dinners. And if you turn north in September to Willamette Valley, you’ll pull into your second harvest—so your vacation peaks at just the right time.

A Local Flavorite

It’s never a bad idea to ask the locals at a winery where they eat. But for Willamette Valley, we’ll save you the time: It’s Red Hills Market. Although their dining-in is awesome, they can also help you create the world’s finest picnic whether you’re looking to pair a wine with a Margherita pizza, or a half chicken brined and smoked by the fire.

The Earth’s Secret Cellar

The discovery of Ape Cave may have been an accident. But your trip there shouldn’t be. Take a day with the kids or your loved one to make your own excursion into the underground lava tube. The kids’ imaginations will go wild, and your partner will hold you a little bit closer.

Uncork on Crater Lake

When buying a bottle of wine, you imagine the perfect place to open it. Well, this is it. Crater Lake may be a detour that takes you off I-5 for a spell, but it’s hard to imagine a more memorable place to pour your partner a glass. Over the ancient blue waters, the volcano may be extinct; but your romance won’t be.

See Napa and Sonoma

Described as the perfect blend, these two valleys represent some of North America’s finest wines. Cabernets from Napa are world-renowned, as are Sonoma’s zinfandels. And those are just the reds. But whether you love red or white, purchase some favorites to savor at scenic spots down the road.


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