By Matt Villano, on August 21, 2013

Stay fit in Napa and Sonoma

Just a few years after Napa and Sonoma County wineries started offering food and wine pairings, new types of pairings have emerged: those that mix fitness with wine. These options mix Pilates, hiking, biking, yoga, and other forms of open-air fitness with tastings and picnics amid the vines. 

Most of the excursions are reasonably priced (under $200). And just about all of them provide day-trippers to the area with a perfect excuse to indulge their senses after indulging their body and spirit. Over the last few months I’ve taken a number of these experiences, and have enjoyed them as a fresh new take on the California winery experience.


No. 1 on my list: the ProWorks29 program at Vineyard 29 in NapaThese classes take place on the winery’s veranda, which boasts sweeping views of the vineyards. They also are totally customizable. 

Pilates at Vineyard 29

Because I’m a novice, I opted for an hour-long class in traditional mat Pilates. The class was invigorating – challenging, but not overwhelmingly so. I had plenty of energy left for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, a winery tour, and a light lunch. (More adventuresome types can opt for more demanding sessions that feature a blend of ballet barre techniques and core training, military-inspired suspension training, or a combination of the three.)

Another great option: the “Hike through the Vines” program at Stony Hill Vineyards. The day I did this, we hikers met on Stony Hill’s Ranch House terrace, which overlooks the valley below. From there, owner Sarah McCrea led us on a 1.5-mile hike around the 160-acre property.


Normally hiking fewer than two or three miles doesn’t even prompt me to break a sweat. At Stony Hill, however, because the property is perched on the side of Spring Mountain, the hiking was strenuous. Thankfully, McCrea broke up the tour with stops for tastings at various spots along the way. We also chowed down on a post-hike picnic at the top of the mountain.


Earlier this summer, I also enjoyed bicycling on the quiet roads of Howell Mountain as part of the “Cycle the Road Less Traveled” experience offered through Ladera Vineyards. This adventure led me six miles from the vineyard to the sleepy town of Angwin and out and around surrounding roads. Like the Stony Hill program, the Ladera program included a picnic lunch, some tastings, and a guided tour of a “ghost winery” building that sat vacant for years.

Viewfinder Tip: If you’re planning to work out and taste wine in Napa or Sonoma, be sure to drink plenty of water.

There are other fitness-oriented pairings in wine country I’d still like to try. At the Poetry Inn in Yountville, guests can use complimentary TRX straps on customized TRX stations overlooking the vineyards. At Honig Vineyard & Winery in Rutherford, special seasonal yoga retreats include three hours of yoga interspersed with a wine tasting and lunch. Finally, on the other side of the Mayacamas Mountains, a new Estate Tour at Jordan Winery in Healdsburg mixes light hiking, off-roading (in a 14-passenger Sprinter), wine tasting, and food.

So many pairings, so little time. Lucky for us, harvest in these parts doesn’t even start until fall.

How do you stay fit when traveling?