What are mountain vineyards good for, besides mountain-grown wines? They make for great hiking and mountain biking.
Prefer a brisk jog through the vineyard? Notre Vue Estate Winery invites guests to jog, too, at their fourth annual outdoors adventure event, Tour de Cru. Notre Vue is the resident winery (along with sister brand, Balverne) of Windsor Oaks Vineyards, a 210-acre patchwork of vineyard blocks that sprawl across the hills just north of Windsor. Many wineries buy their 16 varieties of wine grapes, but an additional 350 acres is designated “Forever Wild” by agreement with the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. Connecting it all is a network of dirt and gravel roads wending through oak woodlands and cresting hills to reveal million dollar views—it’s like a fine regional park, with wine.
I showed up for last year’s Tour de Cru with my hybrid city bike, and 32mm tires, ready to tackle the gravel. This was folly. I knew I shouldn’t have bothered when I saw the initial ascent to where the trails begin. Luckily, Windsor Bike Center was on hand to offer me a more appropriate setup, sporting suspension, fat, knobby tires, the works, for no extra charge. The winery is “95 percent sure” the bike store will return on June 29. For your heel-pounding pleasure, Fleet Feet Sports returns to provide shoe-fitting and warm-up advice.
Don’t expect a special kind of lanyard to hold your glass of wine and your cheese and charcuterie plate. But here’s a pro tip: Balverne Pinot Noir rosé is just as refreshing from a sports bottle.
I chose the 2-mile Red Tail Trail, getting mixed up with the 5.4-mile Summit Trail along the way. At the top of the dam, some lollygaggers are enjoying a tranquil pond scene from a gazebo—lollygagging is allowed. After an easy spin down a tree-shaded road, the marked trail has me climbing between vineyard rows uphill. Further on, I confer with a fellow biker about the route, and pass a group of hikers taking in the view. On a steep downhill in the dirt, those disc brakes really saved me. Then I rounded a corner—hark, the wildlife! Well, turkeys.
Back at the winery, the Healdsburg burger-and-sausage joint the Wurst serves lunch, a couple of local vendors offer samples of fresh juice and yerba mate, and this year’s musical guest is Ragtag Sullivan.
Notre Vue Estate, 11010 Estate Lane, Windsor. Tour de Cru, Saturday, June 29, 10am–3pm. $55 tickets $55 include wine; $25 kids. 707.433.4050.