Exploring the 80-12-29-128 Corridor

In years I’m able to attend the Kate Wolf Music Festival, I take a somewhat circuitous route to the festival site in Laytonville, Calif.

The “direct route” would call for flying in to either San Francisco International Airport or Oakland International Airport, connecting with Highway 101, and then simply driving north.

The problem with that route is that it includes miles and miles of “city driving,” and in the San Francisco Bay Area, that can mean long back-ups and delays—not exactly my idea of “getting away from it all.”

I much prefer flying to Sacramento International Airport, well east of the Bay Area bustle, and then meandering through North Coast wine country. Exiting the westbound Interstate-80 at Highway 12 (toward Napa) delivers me to Highway 29 for a leisurely drive through the heart of Napa Valley.

At the top of the valley in Calistoga, a simple merge onto Highway 128 and a handful of easily negotiated mountain twists and turns lead to the American Viticultural Areas of northern Sonoma County.

After slowing occasionally to pay homage to some of the great vineyards of Knights Valley and Alexander Valley, I can hook up with Highway 101 north of Healdsburg (also north of Santa Rosa, where the traffic snarls during rush hours).

Then it’s through Sonoma’s northernmost town of Cloverdale, into the tiny Mendocino County town of Hopland, and on to my personal festival headquarters: Ukiah.

If you enjoy a leisurely (but always moving) pace, wonderful scenery, and visiting winery tasting rooms, the “80-12-29-128 Corridor” is tough to beat.

Tomorrow, I’ll share a fun, wine-focused itinerary for Ukiah, the county seat of Mendocino and that county’s largest city (population: 15,000).

Posted in Our Wine Travel Log
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