The Ultimate Northern California Road Trip, From Supercars to Farm-to-Table Cooking

About those menus. In the hands of executive chef Jesse Mallgren, every impossibly fresh ingredient is a revelation. There are estate tomatoes with miso, ume vinegar, and shiso; local peaches with compressed celtuce, marcona almonds, and lemon verbena oil; brilliant steaks and burgers; and even local black code. (The kitchen is also masterful at making plain cheese pizza with absolutely no garnishings, should you have—just hypothetically of course—a young child terrified of absolutely anything other than cheese on top of his cheese pizza.) And as for drinks? I mean, you’re in Sonoma County. Let’s just say that the breweries and vineyards which surround the Madrona in every lush direction are very, very well-represented here.

We made day trips into Healdsburg to the renowned Noble Folk Ice Cream and Pie Bar; we ventured just a bit further to the Ranch at Lake Sonoma and saddled up for a picturesque guided horseback tour for the whole family. We swam and ate and played more croquet back at the Madrona; and then we pulled up stakes, piled back in the Urus, and navigated north and west. First, to the giant redwoods—including the Chandelier Tree, a 276-foot-tall redwood bored through at the bottom so one can squeeze a car (but not, let’s be clear, this car) through it—and then over to the coast.

It’s on this latter route, Highway 20, where the Urus truly earned its stripes—because it may be an SUV, but it’s a Lamborghini SUV. When you’re driving on roads that resemble the impossible switchbacks of the Amalfi Coast (albeit with a forest of redwoods as your guardrails and, blessedly, much saner traffic unlike la dolce vita), it’s a vast tonic for the nerves to have a car that hugs the road with a kind of nuclear-engineered downforce. It’s also a treat to have a sunroof virtually the size of the entire top of the car that retracts, making al fresco viewing (and smelling) of our towering, otherworldly surroundings a sensuous thrill.

All too soon, we emerge from the redwoods for more Highway 1, but this time just north of Fort Bragg, on our way to our final night’s stay, at the Inn at Newport Ranch. This time, after the horses and the horsepower, the twisting roads and the tourist attractions, a 2,000-acre zen-like retreat with a mere handful of lodgings—even better, yes, if it’s set on the high cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean— was exactly what we needed to cap off the trip. Though founder Will Jackson began buying up the various parts of the property in 1985, it was only opened to the public in 2015; still, the woody, light-filled, airy architecture, design, and furniture are all seemingly of a piece. (Think Frank Lloyd Wright meets Black Narcissusbut set in the Summer of Love.)

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