About the winehiker

Hi! I’m Russ Beebe, a.k.a. The Winehiker.

Being outdoors most of my life, I’ve learned a great many things about wilderness ethics, trip planning, group dynamics, reading the land and the weather, and the kind of person I always wanted to be. Early on, I organized dozens of backpacking trips and cycling tours in Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Western Nevada, and Northern and Central California.

Russ salutes another fine day in the California wine country.

For most of this decade and last, I’ve organized hundreds of hiking tours for family, friends and coworkers, though I’ve attended and hosted a variety of wine tastings for even longer. I’m quite comfortable in the Great Outdoors and I’ve learned a few things about the natural world and wine – things that people tell me they’re glad I pointed out. Whether it’s identifying a bird or a tree or discussing the nuances of wine tasting, I’ll tell you this much: the winehiking experience sure seems to resonate with people. And I surely do appreciate all of the nice notes people have sent to me over the years.

What’s more fun than winehiking? Experiencing it with your fellow winehikers!

Throughout my journeys, I’ve discovered that people really love to combine an outdoor experience with California’s finest wines. As a result, I melded my two passions – hiking and wine-tasting – into a third passion: sharing the winehiking experience with people like you.

Why? Because a wine country hiking experience is serious fun for everyone – especially when there’s a wine-tasting reward at the end of the trail!

Therefore I host dozens of active wine country experiences each year and I’m always on the lookout for new trails, wineries and venues that will ensure a relaxing and memorable group experience for all of my guests. (Imagine a chef-inspired weekend at a mountain vineyard retreat! Would you like to go? Fan us up on Facebook and you’ll be invited.)

I’m The Winehiker, and I invite you to let me be your ambassador to wine country adventure!

Your host,

Russ Beebe
The Winehiker

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Waking up to special days

It sure feels good to wake up to a special day every once in a while. And it feels especially good to see your many well-wishes today, everyone! I am delighted by your thoughtfulness, and I’m sincerely grateful that you took the time to make me feel good about being in your lives.

After a less-than-optimum employment status over these past 3 years – a very trying time that found me constantly scanning the job boards – I’ve enjoyed a string of special days recently. Though she’s not on Facebook (yet), I must give credit to my good friend Niki, who flew out here from her home in Zurich, Switzerland, to help me celebrate this (53rd!!) birthday occasion. But more than bringing just her self, I believe she brought me good luck, too: within a few days of her being here, I landed a permanent position! What’s more, that position is with a company that I had previously worked at for over 7 years. That company is Zilog, in San Jose (and soon to be in Milpitas, a much closer commute). In fact, Zilog is where I had met Niki about ten years ago.

It’s wonderful to be invited back to a company that always felt like home to me. Many of the people I worked with previously are still here! And last week – my first back at Zilog – felt very much like a family reunion. I’ve got much to wrap my head around over these next few days and weeks, but fortunately many of the processes I helped to establish are still in place here, and I believe it won’t take very long for me to regain top speed.

Indian Summer, a painting by Pamela Cisneros
Indian Summer”, a painting by Pamela Cisneros

Indeed, there is a magic swirling about my days. Certainly I’ve always delighted in romping around outdoors during the magic warm days and sultry nights of Indian Summer. You can be sure I’m kicking up trail dust somewhere! And who would I be if I didn’t wash down that trail dust during a languorous moment with a luscious libation?

And thus I salute all of you who also enjoy special days, who yearn for those good, honest trail miles ahead, and who revel in tasting those well-deserved rewards at day’s end.

¡Pueda cada vidrio de vino es el penúltimo!

Sincerely,
Russ “winehiker” Beebe

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October 9th Winehiking Event: Napa Valley’s “The Palisades”

Back in the Fall of 2008, Dick Keenan of Sonoma County’s Kick Ranch Vineyard approached me, suggesting I host a hike in Napa Valley and invite a few friends, winemakers, blog readers and social media types to  join us. As you might imagine, I didn’t take a lot of convincing. Ultimately a dozen of us got together in Calistoga a month later, including Dick and his wife Kathy, to brave the dramatic downhill that is The Palisades Trail from its commanding perches just below the Mount St. Helena summit to its base on the outskirts of Calistoga. Later, when all of us had completed our downhill journey, we adjourned to Cuvaison Winery for a potluck picnic and a well-deserved wine tasting. Why? Because such things are so fun to do.

Mount St. Helena, in all her summer splendor.
Mount St. Helena in all her summer splendor.

Call it California crazy if you will. But it’s my kind of crazy. And I’m not alone. Indeed there are many of us crazies out here – even in the Napa Valley. Yes, it’s our kind of crazy – and it’s a good thing.

Yup. And yet it’s been nearly two years since that fine Fall day, and I realize it’s high time to return and hike those lofty ramparts of The Palisades again.

For the wine, of course. ’Cuz I’m crazy like that.

Now if you’ve read this far, and assuming you like to hike, I’ve got a proposition for you – the same proposition I shared two years ago: how’d you like to hike the complete 12.5-mile mildly-buttkicking route from summit to valley floor with me? Would you raise your hand to volunteer?

And, if you also knew you’d be hiking – high above Napa Valley, mind you – with a handful of wine geeks, would you involuntarily blurt “just lemme grab my boots!”?

Then save the following date, fellow winehiker, for we shall meet to experience the glory that is The Palisades on Saturday, October 9th, 2010 at 8:30 a.m. After the hike is over, we’ll drive a little ways down the Silverado Trail to Clos du Val Winery*, where we’ll bask in happy euphoria over a potluck lunch, great Clos du Val wines, and – if we’re still standing (after the effort of the hike, mind you) – a round or two of pétanque. All for free! Well, >ahem< at least for the cost of the lunch fixin’s you prepare, the wine you consume, and the gas it’ll take to get there.

And back, hopefully.

It’ll just be another fine day outdoors in the wine country. Thus far there are 6 people interested in joining me on this hike, including Jill Dever of Beaulieu Vineyards and Andrew Lazorchak, maker of the Wine Soiree decanter/aerator; also fellow hiker and Palisades winehiking veteran Laura May and, flying in all the way from New York with her husband, Paul (ostensibly to celebrate their 22nd wedding anniversary), Debbie Gioquindo, author of  Hudson Valley Wine Goddess.

A hiker’s view of The Palisades, above the Napa Valley floor.<br>Image source: yelp.com.
A hiker’s view of The Palisades, above the Napa Valley floor. Image source: yelp.com.

So very nice. However, I’m thinking of capping the group at a manageable 15 people, so if you’d like to sign up, don’t wait too long to do it! Merely leave a comment to this post that includes your email address, and also let me know if you’re instead interested in hiking the moderately easy four-mile out-and-back option**. I’ll get back to you with driving directions and additional details.

Hiking The Palisades
Table Rock is a flat rocky outcrop surmounting The Palisades, a craggy set of cliffs on the northeast edge of Napa Valley, prominently visible from downtown Calistoga. Walking the trail from its trailhead atop Highway 29 on Mount St. Helena out to Table Rock, high above the vineyards of the valley, you may hear the scream of a nearby raptor and, through binoculars, the sharp-eyed might just see a Peregrine Falcon perched on a rock below.

Despite what you see and hear, however, it is the Table Rock Trail itself that is among the most captivating in the California wine country. When joined with the Palisades Trail and the historic Oat Hill Mine Road, the Table Rock trail combines amazing 19th-century trail engineering with bizarre rock formations, a pygmy knobcone pine forest, and nonstop spectacular views. In the cooler months, when rain-washed skies are free of summer’s haze, one can smell the volcanic dust below one’s feet, then look up to behold a trillion-dollar vista extending 100 miles.

Come join us! Let’s walk The Palisades together. And then enjoy some food and wine in Napa Valley!

~winehiker

*Picnic reservations at Clos du Val are $10 per person, but oh-so-worth it. Tastings for a group our size are $20 per person, but Clos du Val will waive the fee with wine purchase.
**In which case you’ll finish way way early and will likely wait a long time for that post-hike picnic to start!

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