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In Napa, Wilderness Above the Wineries

Finally, from the top of a mountain peak, there was the wine country at last. Grids of green vineyards stretched for miles. Far below, perched on a hilltop, stood a white stucco winery that seemed small as a matchbox.
From the highway, Napa seems to be wall-to-wall vineyards. But from the trails that snake through the hills of the county, you can see just how little of it is actually covered in vines — only about 9 percent.
I had detoured into the hills to appreciate the Napa terroir in a new way — by hiking it. Napa offers a rare pairing of wine and wilderness. The climate and topography that make the region so ripe for viticulture also have created misty forests, petrified trees, striking rock formations and peaks with sweeping views of the vineyards.
“The hiking in Napa Valley is phenomenal,” said Ken Stanton, author of the guidebook “Great Day Hikes In and Around Napa Valley.” “There are places that still look like they did a hundred years ago.”
Better yet, hiking Napa means you don't have to sleep in a tent. Several excellent hikes lie within a short drive of the valley's renowned bed-and-breakfasts, restaurants and wineries. You can easily design an itinerary that captures the duality of Napa: a series of day hikes in the hills fueled by nights of food and wine on the valley floor.
A good place to begin is in the heart of wine country, at Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, five miles north of the craftsman homes and Victorian mansions of St. Helena.
In the woods of Bothe, you can imagine Napa as the early settlers might have seen it. The park nestles against the western slope of the valley, where some of Napa's oldest wineries, like Beringer and Schramsberg, dug their first wine caves in the 1800s.

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