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Swirl the glass. Sniff the cork. Let the warm glow of wine linger on your palate. California’s celebrated Wine Country has earned its international reputation for exceptional products and incredible tasting experiences. Sample your way through the glamorous Napa Valley and charming Sonoma County. Relax at vineyards nestled in forests, foothills, and farmland. Find your perfect pour in Northern California.
Napa Valley: California’s Most Famous Wine Country
Rows of vineyards run across rolling hills as far as the eye can see, dotted with glitzy chateau estates and century-old oak trees. Welcome to Napa Valley, one of the world’s most illustrious wine regions. Only 4% of all California wine is produced here, but it’s among the very finest. Napa is best known for Cabernet Sauvignon, but you can also sip Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Zinfandel. There are over 600 wineries in the valley, from stunning hilltop castles to elegant boutique vineyards. Napa’s white-hot culinary scene stands up to its famous wines. In-demand chefs serve exquisite creations at super trendy restaurants and chic outdoor bistros.
Sonoma County: Intimate Wineries and Laid-Back Charm
Ramble down backroads to rustic wineries with homegrown appeal. More relaxed than its close cousin, Napa Valley, Sonoma County is a comfortable, come-as-you-are Wine Country. More than 500 wineries produce stellar Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Sip reds in intimate tasting rooms located in converted barns, often poured by the vineyard’s purple-fingered owner. Stop between wineries at you-pick orchards and goat cheese farms. Drive slow in this spread-out region, which stretches from the Pacific Coast to the Coast Range mountains.
San Joaquin Valley: Vineyards in Farmland and Foothills
Three-quarters of the grapes grown in California come from the Central Valley, the workhorse of the wine industry. When you see a bottle simply labeled “California” wine, it probably came from here. San Joaquin Valley is just a slice of this massive inland area, but it produces some of its best wines. Begin on the northern edge of the valley in Lodi, which is famous for its Zinfandels and big, bold reds. On the east side of the valley, wineries nestle against the Sierra Nevada foothills and showcase beautiful mountain views. All throughout the region, discover roadside stands overflowing with California’s bounty of fruits and vegetables – perfect pairings for a picnic in the valley.
Mendocino County: Quiet Vineyards and Organic, Sustainable Wines
Find tranquil vineyards, sustainable practices, and a diverse array of wines in this northern Wine Country. Covered in redwood forests, this cool and foggy terrain grows an abundance of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. But many others grow well here too, thanks to a varied landscape and climate. Organic, non-GMO, and biodynamic wines are the focus of this unspoiled region. Sip sparkling wines and Gewürztraminer in the Anderson Valley. Savor Zinfandels and robust reds in the warmer Redwood Valley. You won’t find crowds, lines, or traffic in Mendocino – but you will discover dog-friendly patios, family-owned vineyards, and small-batch wineries.
Lake County: Volcanic Red Soil and Sparkling Clear Lake
Travel just east of Mendocino to find the shimmering waters of Clear Lake, the largest freshwater body of water in the state. Surrounding the lake are many peaceful vineyards with excellent, affordable Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc. Merlot and Chardonnay are also very popular. The lake provides a majestic backdrop for wine tasting adventures and vineyard tours. Breathe deep the fresh air here – it’s the cleanest in the state. Sample acclaimed mountain wines grown in the rocky soils under the shadow of a dormant volcano. Enjoy wine tastings in the bucolic countryside and on the waters of Clear Lake.
Any visit to California will yield a wide range of exciting and memorable occasions. Make your travel next travel plans and head for the San Francisco Bay Area, home to slew of premier wine makers and wineries. The Garré Vineyard and Winery is a charming, and well respected winery in Livermore producing an impressive list of wines.
Visit the area soon and check out the always popular Tasting Room at Garré Vineyards. The Garré family tradition of wine making has it's origins rooted as far back as the 19th century near Genoa Italy. When you visit the Garré Vineyards, you'll be treated like family – or as close to it as possible. Be sure to check out Café Garré on your visit.