Norton Safeweb

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Best Drives, Highway 128

I recently saw an online article from Yahoo Travel (I know what you're thinking, someone actually reads Yahoo)? Anyway, it listed the seven best under-the-radar vacation drives in the U.S. So they stayed away from roads like the Pacific Coast Highway and the Blue Ridge Parkway as these are so well-known, and busy.

One of the drives was California State Highway 128. The eastern terminus of this road is Winters, CA, just at the edge of the Central Valley along a section of mountains that drops over into Napa. The western end is Highway 1 on the Pacific just south of the town of Mendocino. It's two lanes and winding most of the way. And beautiful.

Highway 128 near the Napa/Sonoma county line

From the eastern end of the road going west you go over the Vaca Mountains past Lake Berryessa then down into the middle of Napa Valley. The road then goes up through the heart of Napa and into Sonoma County then to Mendocino County. Besides Napa Valley, you pass though the wine-growing areas of Knights Valley, Alexander Valley, and Anderson Valley. This route is home to everything from Cabernet Sauvignon to Pinot Noir.

The biggest town you're going to see along the way is Cloverdale, pop 8,800, known for .... well, I can't think of anything -- maybe the World Famous Hamburger Ranch & Bar-B-Que.

You will pass by lots of vineyards and wineries -- everything from the historic and well-known Beringer Vineyards in Napa Valley to the not-so-well-known Lazy Creek Vineyards in Mendocino's Anderson Valley. You'll pass through Redwoods as you near the ocean.

Some winery suggestions for along the way:
  • For Zinfandel: Storybook Mtn Vineyards in northern Napa County and Stryker Sonoma Winery in Alexander Valley
  • Cabernet Sauvignon: As you be drive through Napa Valley and Alexander Valley great Cabs will be everywhere!
  • Sauvignon Blanc: Hanna Winery in Alexander Valley
  • Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, Riesling: Navarro in Anderson Valley
  • Ready for a beer? Anderson Valley Brewing

The road is over 120 miles long and takes about three hours to traverse, but you'll want to stop along the way for some photos, some wine tasting, and maybe lunch at the Hamburger Ranch.

Highway 128 from Google Maps. Click on to enlarge. 
Western end in the upper left, Eastern end in lower right