California, the Golden State, is known for many things. Great weather, glamorous beaches, and charming cities like San Francisco are just a few of its draws. It’s a paradise for foodies too, with fine dining experiences like no other state in the US. But what it’s best known for is perhaps its never-ending supply of wine.
There are more than 300,000 tons of grapes grown in California each year and the state produces over 17 million gallons of wine annually. If you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy wine tasting in America, our California wine tours will take your passion to new heights. With Wine Paths, you’ll get to delight and challenge your palate, and discover new and exciting wine varieties in the most beautiful surroundings.
With multiple wine regions to explore, and cultural wine routes where food and drink go hand in hand, a wine tour holiday in California is truly unforgettable.
On a Californian wine tour, there are some wonderful regions to visit. This wine-soaked state produces a diverse portfolio of wines, all with different flavors and characteristics derived from the soil and climate. Conditions here range from endless sunshine to cool coastal air, and there’s a whole variety of terrain where the grapes are grown. As a result, each region lends its own unique flair to the wines found here.
Some of the top areas include The Central Valley, The Sierra Foothills, Southern California, and The North Coast – home to famous regions such as the Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, Mendocino County and Lake County.
The Napa Valley is most certainly one of the most popular routes for wine tourists, experienced or otherwise. Whether you’re a serious connoisseur or dipping your toes into enotourism for the first time, the Napa Valley Wine Trail will surprise and delight you. It’s one of America’s most prolific wine regions, with everything from boutique wineries to established wine makers. It also happens to be one of the most coveted destinations for gastronomy and haute cuisine.
Not too far from Napa is the similarly impressive Sonoma Valley, an area recognized for its breathtaking vineyards and romantic scenery. This is a great area for those who want to combine wine with the outdoors. And when it comes to mixing food and wine, the dining ambience here tends to be more laidback than its North Coast neighbor.
Blessed with great weather pretty much all year round, California is perfect for travel at any time of year. June to September tends to be a popular time across the state, particularly for those who dream of sunbathing at beautiful beaches. But for wine tasting, the best time to arrive is between August and October, as this is the region’s harvest season.
The wine harvest is a good time to enjoy a wine tour as you’ll be able to see the grapes at their plumpest in the vineyards, and the towns and cities are bustling with activity. The weather will also be slightly cooler at this time, making it suitable for hikes and walking tours. During peak season, you can expect it to get very busy.
If you would prefer to avoid the crowds, March to May could be another good time to go. Spring means the region is in full bloom, but the summer rush is yet to begin. Alternatively, it’s also possible to visit Napa Valley or Sonoma Valley in winter when it’s quieter. The Napa Truffle Festival and other fine food events are another reason to consider winter wine holidays.
Within California, there are more than one hundred AVAs. These are geographical locations recognized for their grape growing, with differentiations in growing conditions that distinguish them from other areas. While some wine drinkers are already familiar with regions like Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, there may be several AVAs found in each of the regions.
When tasting these AVAs, what’s particularly interesting is the distinctions of same or similar varietals. For instance, a Chardonnay grown in The Central Valley will taste entirely different from a Chardonnay from Monterey County. This remarkable diversity means that there’s a wine for every type of drinker out there.
If you inspect the labels of Californian wine, AVAs can only be listed if the wine is made from at least 85% of grapes grown in that area. If a county is listed instead of a specific geographical location, the percentage will be a maximum of 75%.
Staying in the Napa Valley is an opportunity to experience the fine lifestyle of locals in the area. The finest wine and gastronomy of the highest order are enjoyed in this part of the world. More than 4.5 million people visit Napa Valley each year, so the region is not lacking in accommodation options. From grand five star resorts like Meadowood in St. Helena to charming winery stays, luxury is guaranteed in Napa.
Known to be a little more relaxed, Sonoma Valley offers just as much choice when it comes to place to stay. While the general atmosphere is more laidback and life is slightly slower paced, there are still plenty of luxury accommodation choices.
The Napa region promises fine dining and chic, high-end restaurants with outstanding sommelier service. Eating out in the Napa Valley is a truly elegant experience, with a wide selection of one, two and three Michelin star establishments to choose from. One that we must mention is The Restaurant at Meadowood, a three Michelin star dining spot that always wows our clients during their stay.
Luxury dining is a growing concept in Sonoma too, with a list of its own Michelin restaurants. But the foodie adventure doesn’t just stop there. With our food and wine experiences, such as visiting the region’s premier cheese producers, your trip is set to be a memorable one. In Sonoma, you can also spend an afternoon with a local Michelin star chef and enjoy a five star lunch in a vineyard kitchen.
Whether you choose to visit Napa or Sonoma, Wine Paths will make your California wine tour thoroughly unforgettable.
Wine Paths is passionate about creating tailored travel for serious food and wine enthusiasts who want to explore California in style. Find out more about this luxury destination with our local travel expert Shelle.