Napa Valley has great restaurants and wineries, gorgeous rolling-hill views, and plenty of hotels happy to assist you in sleeping off that wine tasting hangover. But one glaring omission for wine country travelers like us has been the absence of a cohesive trail of hiking-biking-walking paths in a car-congested area begging for casual strolls (Sound familiar?).

Napa, at least, is getting a traffic reprieve. The Napa Valley Vine Trail announced this week that it received $2.5 million in Federal funding towards the project.

Chuck McMinn, owner of Vineyard 29 winery, proposed the idea of a trail connecting the entire Napa Valley. When completed in 2020, the path will span 44 miles, from the Vallejo Ferry Terminal to Calistoga. But McMinn says the idea didn't garner much support initially. “When I'd ask why we couldn't have a path through the Valley, people would say, 'Great idea, but the wine industry would never let it happen,'” McMinn tells readers on Vine Trail's website.

Of course, McMinn is part of the wine industry. Vineyard 29 makes several wines but is best known for its big boy Cabernets — some of the winery's cult Cabs, like the Aida Estate, fetch upwards of $200 a bottle. The project launched last year on the Yountville end of the trail, but the carrot for the new Federal grant was the potential lasting economic benefit. Encouraging more hikers and bikers to visit the Napa Valley means that local restaurants, wineries, and other businesses are bound to benefit. A wine-induced job fair, of sorts.

McMinn now heads up Vine Trail, the nonprofit spearheading the efforts (he is their unpaid Director). The cost of the entire project is estimated at $50 million, so McMinn still has plenty of fundraising to do.

So do we, actually, if we ever want to try a bottle of that Vineyard 29 Aida Estate. In the meantime, we'll be polishing off the last of those summer wine deals. And waiting for news from the L.A. Department of City Planning on our own citywide (and brewery-infused, of course) hiking/biking trail.

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