TRAVEL: Wine Country, Two Ways

Nora Zelevansky
5 min readJan 31, 2023
Stanly Ranch in Napa Valley

Here’s a weird thing: I love wine country. But I don’t drink wine.

I know, I know. I actually adore it and still take the occasional sip. But, in my late twenties, I developed an allergy to alcohol and I can’t really drink it anymore.

At least not in the quantity I want.

And yet the bucolic vineyards and windy roads of Northern California still call to me. Maybe even more so now that I’ve moved back to the East Coast, currently cold and leafless. I love the food with its just-plucked ingredients, the relaxed vibe, the charming town squares. Plus, California grows almost as many dispensaries as they do grapes.

Which is why, this past year, for my deeply sacred annual trip with my two best friends from college, we headed to wine country…again. We’ve hung by pools in Palm Springs, devoured snow cones in New Orleans, yet we always seem to return to Northern California, seduced by its promise of luxuriously lazy days.

So, we returned once more. Only this time, we’d check out two entirely new spots, defined as much by their difference as by their related locale.

Wine country, two ways.



Nora Zelevansky

New novel: COMPETITIVE GRIEVING (Blackstone). New nonfiction: ROLL RED ROLL (Hachette ). Bylines: NY Times, T&C, WSJ etc.