A Journey in Napa Valley in a Lincoln Continental

With its picturesque coastal views, thriving wine region and a metropolitan City by the Bay, Northern California has a very different — some might say more refined — flavour than its famous southern sibling. When choosing a method of transport to explore such a place, it’s only appropriate to select something equally as elegant: enter the 2017 Lincoln Continental.

It’s no coincidence that the American luxury nameplate chose the beautiful backdrop of NorCal to give media an opportunity to be amongst the first to sample the redesigned flagship sedan. Over two days, we experienced everything from stunning urban landscapes in San Francisco to some of the best driving roads leading to the vineyard-speckled Napa Valley.

Our adventure actually begins at the San Francisco International Airport, where I was able to acquaint myself with the Continental as a backseat passenger. Before getting in the car, I was already impressed by what Lincoln calls “Magic Touch” doors. You won’t find any conventional handles here. Rather, a piece of rounded metal flows gently away from the bottom of the window frame concealing a latch button. Pressing it opens the door electronically. Smooth.

Inside, there is so much backseat legroom (1,050 millimetres) that I could almost completely stretch out my lanky 6 Feet frame. Even the leather trimming on the seats have an elegant name, provided by Scottish company Bridge of Weir and made using organic tanning and sustainable production methods.

Another standout feature of the interior is the 19-speaker Revel Ultima stereo system. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert audiophile so I won’t go into detail about how great the it sounds, but I can say the milled-aluminum speaker covers inset into the door panels are absolutely gorgeous.

To speak about the design was chief interior designer Soo Kang, who joined the festivities at Lincoln’s temporary base of operations within the 175-acre Calistoga Ranch. Nestled in upper Napa, the property was complete with ancient oak trees, a private lake and a wine cave where we gathered to sip, dine and discuss the day’s activities and, of course, the car.

“I’ve been working at Lincoln and Ford Motor Company for 29 years,” says Kang, adding she has had a hand in shaping iconic models like the Ford Mustang and F-150 pickup both inside and out.

“When we really started working on the Lincoln rebirth in 2012, it was the MKZ at the time,” she says, “I was really lucky to work on the MKZ concept and production, MKC concept production and [now] the Continental concept and production… so I was part of the whole journey,” she says.

The Continental itself has undergone a rebirth of sorts with this latest model. The first version was produced way back in 1939 and offered throughout nine generations, before disappearing from the fleet in 2002 due to declining sales and an overcrowded product lineup. Then, in 2015, a new version was announced to replace the outgoing full-size MKS and to serve as the ambassador for a streamlined and more modern Lincoln brand.

Rather than spout out a bunch of statistics, I will simply say that despite being an executive sedan, the vehicle has no lack of grunt and can hang with the best of ‘em in the twisties, like the ones we encountered on an impossibly scenic 120-kilometre drive from downtown San Francisco to one of Napa’s freshest wineries. Davis Estates is family-owned and operated and boasts new-antique architecture and some amazing wines that stole a bit of thunder away from the cars. Try the Davis Estates Private Reserve sauvignon blanc.

If you ever find yourself in the area, make sure to drop by some of the highlights we were fortunate enough to visit including the boutique shops lining downtown Napa full of unique local goods (fresh lavender oil!), the monumental Palace of  Fine Arts structure in San Francisco’s Marina District and, it goes without saying, the famed Golden Gate Bridge. And trust us, the view is even better from inside a Lincoln Continental.