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If you like wine, you’ve probably enjoyed California Wine Country vintages, many rated 90-point or higher. Visit the areas producing 90 percent of U.S. wine. Enjoy scenic countryside and fresh produce from California’s fertile valleys.
California has six wine regions. The largest and perhaps most famous is the North Coast, which includes Napa, Sonoma, Los Carneros, Mendocino and Lake County. Plan multiple days for tours and tastings among thousands of wineries. Most wineries offer samples of several wines for small fees. Some, such as St. Helena’s Hall, have adjoining art galleries. Many wineries, including DaVero in Healdsburg, have added olive oil, preserves and other foods to their sales rooms.
The Central Coast region has some of the state’s oldest vineyards, established by early Franciscan monks. See historic wineries in Santa Clara, San Luis Obispo and San Benito. Many Central Coast wineries are near the Pacific Coast Highway with glorious vistas of cliffs and waves. Watch the film Sideways and look for scenes filmed near Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez Valley wineries. Bike or walk between wineries in Livermore Valley and the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Sierra Foothills wineries originated with 1800s gold rush miners. More than 40 wineries remain in Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Nevada and Placer counties. Tour the wineries during autumn harvests to see fall foliage and smell the tart-sweet aroma of grapes as you sample excellent wines.
In the Inland Valleys of Lodi, San Joaquin and Sacramento, enjoy pairings of local wines with luscious California produce and nuts. Travel from Los Angeles to the Southern California region to combine wine touring with beach visits or golf vacations in San Diego County and the Temecula Valley. California’s Far North has a few wineries near giant redwoods.
California Wine Country encourages safe travels with designated drivers or chauffeured tours. Check winery schedules in advance since many have limited hours. Most wineries request reservations to ensure pleasant visits without crowds. Enjoy free views but pay tasting fees. Purchase your favorite vintages to ship home or take for a picnic.
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