I have to be honest: I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of riding a bike around “wine country.” The combination of winding country roads with numerous blind spots, and drivers who have been imbibing at the tasting rooms, just seems like a recipe for disaster.
And in a car-versus-bicycle accident, the car almost always “wins.”
That said, cycling on the main thoroughfares of Napa Valley (Highway 29 and the Silverado Trail), as well as the numerous “crossroads” that connect them, has become one of the valley’s more popular “attractions.”
And among those who see no problem with the concept is Gary Erickson, who made his fortune by developing a product that he named after his dad: the Clif Bar. An avid cyclist, Erickson formulated Clif Bars to sustain himself over the course of long rides.
After particularly long treks, it’s not unusual for Erickson and fellow riders to celebrate with a glass (or two) of wine.
The success of Clif Bars ultimately enabled Erickson to transform his love of wine into a second vocation, via the founding of Clif Family Winery.
And in the town of St. Helena, you can experience all of Erickson’s passions at Velo Vino Napa Valley. Visitors can shop for Clif Family Farm products, sample current releases from Clif Family Winery, and peruse Erickson’s collection of cycling photos and memorabilia.
And if you’d like to include a ride on your itinerary, Calistoga Bike Shop often offers expeditions that begin at Velo Vino.
Another provider of organized cycling trips is Napa Valley Bike Tours, located in Yountville. The company offers a selection of tour packages and private group tours, or will point you in the right direction for a self-guided tour.
Whether you’re driving or cycling from winery to winery, please remember to share the road and be alert. There’s plenty of room for all of us in wine country if we heed that advice.