A visit to California’s Wine country is on so many bucket lists but the truth is where do you start your planning? The Golden State is home to so many distinct wine regions, including some of the world’s most famous destinations for wine so making a decision can be difficult.
Your next wine country tour will take you off the beaten path and to the roads less traveled. Don’t worry you’ll still discover impressive wine and food but you’ll also be treated to stunning rural scenery and fewer visitors.
With a little help from the Wine Institute you’ll discover the back roads of California’s North Coast.
Take A Sip Of These 4 Spots in Wine Country
Home to nearly 500 wineries, rolling hills, redwood trees and 55 miles of coastline, Sonoma County is one of the most well-known wine regions in California. Even so, there’s always something new to explore along Sonoma’s rural roads.
The Grapes: Best known for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma has diverse climate and soils allowing vintners to grow dozens of other varieties. The country roads in Alexander Valley lead to more than two dozen wineries. Hidden treasures can also be found in the nearby Dry Creek Valley and Russian River Valley.
Need More Info? See Sonoma Tourism.
Napa Valley is known the world over for its acclaimed wines—primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Bordeaux varieties—and a culinary scene that includes Michelin star restaurants, delicious food truck fare and every level of cuisine in between.
The Grapes: Bordered by two mountain ranges, the Napa Valley has several less-traveled mountain roads to meander and discover. Spring Mountain Road, just a few minutes off busy highway 29, is a rural respite of family-owned wineries and 1,000 acres of hillside vineyards. Likewise, Mount Veeder, Atlas Peak, Howell Mountain and Diamond Mountain reward travelers with mountain vistas and limited-production wines.
Need More Info? See Visit Napa Valley.
Fifty miles north of Healdsburg lies Mendocino County where over 90 percent of the land is wild and undeveloped. The region has a small-town vibe and relaxed hospitality.
The Grapes: Along Highway 128 in the Anderson Valley are more than two dozen small wineries producing everything from sparkling wines, Pinot Noir to aromatic whites. A high percentage of the wineries use sustainable, organic or biodynamic methods.
Need More Info? See Visit Mendocino.
Bordering Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties, Lake County was named for the region’s many picturesque lakes. Vineyards are planted throughout the valley to the rocky red soil around Mt. Konocti, a dormant volcano.
The Grapes: Home to 30-plus wineries, Lake County is known for its high-elevation Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc wines. Check out the Mini-tours around Clear Lake.
Need More Info? See Lake County Wineries.