Napa Valley Wine Plane

Hardly the typical sightseeing experience

Perhaps it was a day spent bumper-to-bumper on Highway 29 through the Napa Valley that convinced me to try The Wine Plane. Despite the gimmicky-sounding name, it is a first-class operation. Owners Kim and Jim Higgins are a former advertising executive and a management consultant who've redirected their sense of obsessive professionalism from the corporate world to the air. Pickup was in a BMW 740 IL; the plane itself was a Cessna Centurion 210 with a leather interior, burlwood wine bar, and leather seats in a two-person configuration instead of the usual four; wines served en route included 1996 vintages of Opus One and Turley Zinfandel; there were even noise-canceling headphones and a choice of CDs. In short, this is hardly the typical sightseeing experience. In 90 minutes we did the overview of Napa and Sonoma so I could get my bearings, and then soared down the coast for a look at Point Reyes National Seashore and San Francisco. This is a great introduction to wine country—and points beyond. Also available for charter flights to other parts of California. $149-$299 per person. 707-747-5533; 888-779-6600.