Getting the flavor of...
California’s quirky wine country
Forget Napa Valley—San Luis Obispo is California’s “awesomest wine escape,” said Robin Soslow in The Dallas Morning News. The region, known as SLO, hugs the state’s central coast, “smack-dab between Los Angeles and San Francisco.” Its perfect climate yields grapes with “intensely concentrated, beautifully balanced flavors,” with chardonnay and pinot noir two area specialties. Most of SLO’s 30 wineries are within 5 miles of the beach—which may explain why the region is ranked among the world’s happiest places—and many of the producers’ tasting rooms have a laid-back charm. Essential sipping stops include Sextant, in a renovated Edna Valley stagecoach station, and Silver Horse, in a reclaimed one-room schoolhouse. On the weekends, drop by Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards above Avila Beach, where you can catch live music, drink delicious cider-wine blends, and snap photos of the 100 peacocks that roam the property.
The High Sierra on horseback
To truly experience the rugged majesty of California’s eastern Sierra Nevada, you need to be on horseback, said Christopher Reynolds in the Los Angeles Times. A dozen pack stations still operate in Inyo National Forest, sending guides with horses and mules to accompany travelers on wilderness treks. Last June, I rode with a group of other tenderfoot novices out of Rock Creek Pack Station, and the teenagers in our company were soon giving themselves cowboy names and catching trout for dinner. “We threaded through forests of lodgepole pine and quaking aspen into a world of jutting peaks, clear lakes, gullible trout, and a few mosquitoes.” It was windy, and snowmelt followed us everywhere, making some trails impassable. But on our third evening, the wind died down, and the lake next to our camp glowed with bluish moonlight. “Our campsite was a vast Japanese woodblock print, impossibly still, harmonious, and monochromatic.”