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Spring flings in Wine Country


Are you a culture vulture on the prowl for an art exhibition? Or a foodie searching for a great palate adventure?

Maybe you're a hiker in search of the most compelling vistas in the great outdoors.

Whoever you are and whatever you fancy, let's get something clear straight away: You deserve it.

You can let your to-do list go undone long enough to pamper yourself with an adventure in Wine Country, which by the way, is ripe with a great assortment of treats.

Here are six of our top picks:

<strong>Land of art</strong>

The di Rosa Preserve (<a href="http://dirosaart.org" target="_blank">dirosaart.org</a>, 226-5991, 5200 Carneros Highway, Napa). The founders are stewards of both art and the land, with a 200-acre preserve in the Carneros region. It's a great place to roam after perusing di Rosa's considerable art collection, which features 2,000 works of art by more than 800 artists.

One current exhibit, which runs through April 27, is "Lost and Found." It features the work of Elisheva Biernoff and Floris Sch?feld, two Bay Area-based artists who explore the relationship between man and nature. Don't miss Biernoff's "House of Cards," an interesting take on a child's card castle.

<strong>Oysters and more</strong>

Rocker Oysterfeller's (<a href="http://oysterfellers.com" target="_blank">oysterfellers.com</a>, 876-1983, 14415 Highway 1, Valley Ford). Here's a place to let your oyster cravings run wild. Local Tomales Bay oysters are a specialty, and they're served on the half shell virtually any way you can imagine — with a little garlic butter or baked with bacon and cream cheese.

If you're in the mood for traditional comfort food, there's no shortage here, with buttermilk fried chicken and cheese grits among the favorites. This is the perfect getaway for people who yearn for a refreshing seafood dinner.

<strong>Just relax</strong>

Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary (<a href="http://osmosis.com" target="_blank">osmosis.com</a>, 823-8231, 209 Bohemian Highway, Freestone). The Cedar Enzyme Bath is the signature treatment here, and it's a not-to-be-missed treat. The $99 treat begins in the Japanese Tea Garden, where you sip tea mixed with enzymes from 25 organic plants.

Afterward you are led to a wooden tub filled with a fragrant blend of finely ground cedar, rice bran and plant enzymes imported from Japan. Natural fermentation of these ingredients generates warmth that makes your wooden box a cozy retreat while you're accruing health benefits.

<strong>Love the vista</strong>

Shiloh Ranch Regional Park (<a href="http://sonomacountyparks.org" target="_blank">sonomacountyparks.org</a>, 433-1625, 5750 Faught Road, Windsor). People searching for the best views will want to take the Ridge Trail to the South Ridge Trail. After they hike a mile, they'll find prime views, with the highest elevations at 500 feet.

Here they'll spy north Santa Rosa and Windsor, with a glimpse of vineyards and a hint of the Russian River. Ranger Scott Bolin said, "You get a workout on a rugged trail while escaping your everyday life, and you get the inspiring views as a payoff."

<strong>Hollywood &amp;amp; Wine</strong>

Raven Film Center (Raven Film Center, <a href="http://sregmovies.com" target="_blank">sregmovies.com</a>, 522-0330, 415 Center St., Healdsburg). If you're a movie lover, you've probably wished you could combine the best parts of home viewing and going out to a movie theater: having a snack and a drink while enjoying the big screen and quality sound.

For the past five years, Raven Film Center has offered a format it calls "Hollywood &amp;amp; Wine," now available in all four of its auditoriums.

A small bar in the lobby offers microbrews and wine by the glass. The food menu includes large paninis, quesadillas and gourmet sausages.

While you nosh, you can enjoy first-run films in comfort. Minors aren't served alcohol, of course, but the auditoriums are open to all ages.

"We're really happy to offer this service to our patrons so they can enjoy a glass of wine or a beer with the movie," said Amy Tocchini of Santa Rosa Entertainment Group, which owns the theater.

<strong>Have a ball</strong>

There's something relaxed and elegant about the noble sport of bocce. One pictures well-dressed gentry quietly gathering on a nicely maintained court.

The object of the game is deceptively simple. A small white ball called a pallino is tossed out onto the dirt court and becomes the target for larger red and green balls thrown by opposing players.

You have your choice of settings for this dignified athletic pursuit.

In keeping with the Old World charm of the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville, four regulation-sized bocce courts flank the west side of the property.

Landscaped lawns surround the bocce courts, creating a park that also features game tables for classic games such as backgammon, chess and checkers. Bocce and board games are free.

Francis Ford Coppola Winery, <a href="http://francisfordcoppolawinery.com" target="_blank">francisfordcoppolawinery.com</a>, 857-1400, 300 Via Archimedes, Geyserville.

For a neighborhood atmosphere, try the regulation 90-foot bocce courts at Santa Rosa's Juilliard Park. If you're interested in friendly league competition, contact the Sonoma County Bocce Federation at <a href="http://sonomacountyboccefederation.org" target="_blank">sonomacountyboccefederation.org</a>. Juilliard Park, <a href="http://srcity.org/departments/recreationandparks/parks" target="_blank">srcity.org/departments/recreationandparks/parks</a>, 543-3770, 227 Santa Rosa Plaza, Santa Rosa.