Explore California’s Wine Regions
The state’s wine regions are as wonderfully varied as the state itself.
In California’s wine regions, you’ll discover elegant estates along country roads lined with vineyards. You’ll also find informal wineries in converted barns and urban wine trails with hip in-city tasting rooms. Follow this list to determine which regions suit your style.
The roots of old Zinfandel grapevines run deep in this northeastern region of California — winemaking here dates to the Gold Rush era of the 1850s. Today, the Gold Country is booming with wineries, wine tours, tasting rooms and restaurants.
Almost all of California’s 1,200-plus wineries offer wine tastings. Some take place in their wine cellars, while others include serene views of the vineyards.
The Mendocino County wine region is known for a climate cooled by ocean breezes and a terrain that varies from rolling hills to vineyards shaded by coastal redwoods. This makes the region an ideal spot for a picnic with a scenic bluff, beach or state park as your setting.
Sonoma County has an intimate feel, especially as you head further north toward the stunning Russian River. Whether located inside a castle or a renovated barn, the wineries in Sonoma County earn gold medals and international accolades.
Fresh produce, local cheeses and, of course, award-winning wines — lunch in the Napa Valley is a celebration of delicious, locally sourced food.
Napa Valley reigns as the land of grand estates, expansive tasting rooms, quaint towns and elegant lodgings, many lining the celebrated Silverado Trail — a picturesque country road studded with wineries.
The west side of Silicon Valley, where the land rises to meet the wooded Santa Cruz Mountains, has become an inviting destination for wine lovers. The charming village of Saratoga is the region’s hub.
Historic ranchlands, a dramatic coastline, country roads, inviting towns and rambling grapevines make the Central Coast an outstanding destination, with hundreds of wineries to visit. The grapevines here are some of the oldest in the state, many planted by monks in the 1700s.
Best known for “big” red wines, particularly old vine Zinfandels, this American Viticultural Area roughly 160 kilometers east of San Francisco is a leader in sustainability, with around 10,000 vineyard hectares certified sustainable.
California’s many wine-producing regions vary in the grapes they grow, from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel and Pinot Noir.
The Santa Ynez Valley, just north of Santa Barbara, is one of the most diverse grape-growing regions in the United States. Fog and cool air roll in from the Pacific Ocean at dusk, creating ideal conditions for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. Around 50 kilometers inland at Happy Canyon, the forecast is sunny and hot, perfect for Bordeaux varietals.
Just an hour’s drive from San Diego and marked by family-owned wineries located close together, Temecula makes an inviting, rural escape. The wine region has produced Chardonnay, Syrah and Grenache since the 1970s.