While there has long been an interest in winetasting, in the past couple decades the business has been booming with wine grape vineyards, wineries, winetasting locales, winery tours and lodging popping up in a variety of areas around California.
Many of these are within a comfortable driving distance of Tulare and Kings Counties including Lodi, the Gold Country, Paso Robles and, of course, the Napa Valley, as well as a few local wineries. Whether you want a one-day outing, a weekend away with the girls, or a romantic get-away with your significant other, there is a lot around to see and taste.
The Gold Country
The alluvial fans and piedmonts of the Sierra Foothills have proven a great growing location for vineyards with some 30 to 40 wineries located between Mariposa and Placerville, along California’s historic Highway 49. An abundance of these are located in Placerville, Sutter Creek and Plymouth.
This can make for a multi-purpose trip of winetasting while learning the history of California’s Gold Rush and Gold Country. There are many quaint bed and breakfasts along this route, some deeply rooted with local history, others newer with the finest of amenities.
This is where Mark Twain’s tales of The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County originated and the town of Angel’s Camp hosts the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee each May. It is also an area known for ghost tales dating back to the California Gold Rush days of 1850’s.
Located in San Luis County and not far from the ocean, lies Paso Robles and that area’s vineyards. Here there are numerous wineries and winetasting rooms surrounding the city. It’s coastal and Mediterranean-type climate with long autumns, makes it a perfect grape-growing region. There is a mix of larger hotels, motels and bed and breakfast lodging here, or perhaps a stay on the coast is in order with a day trip to the wineries.
The Paso Robles location with its nearby beaches and lots of shopping, is a trending locale for the girls get-away. But that shouldn’t stop couples’ weekend, as there is a lot of romance in the air here, as well.
Lodi boosts some 85-plus wineries in San Joaquin County along Highway 99, close to Stockton. As a part of the San Joaquin Valley, it is close enough for a day tour, but winetasting may just qualify for at least one night’s stay in the area.
There are a variety of local museums including the World of Wonders Science Museum and the historical Hill House museum. Lodi is also known for its local artists and artist galleries and is home to the Micke Grove Zoo.
Napa and Sonoma Valleys
Napa and Sonoma may be a bit further, but are known world-wide for their wine and wineries. This long-term tourist destination has an abundance of lodging from the quaint bed-and-breakfast to 5-Star resorts with spas, salons and golf courses.
Napa offers a wide-variety of entertainment year-round for the whole family including the Napa Valley Opera House and the V Marketplace. There are a few culinary schools in the area and both Napa and Sonoma feature railroad history through the Sonoma Traintown Railroad and Napa Valley Wine Train.
Knowing where to go and what to do in any of California’s wine regions is the key to a good visit. Visitor centers and chambers may offer advice, as can a hotel concierge, but there is another key option. The wine country now has private tour guides and winery specialists, who know every in and out of every facility in their area. They know the smaller, more intimate wineries and the larger, better known ones, and they can get you in for a tour, or a last-minute wine tasting.
The bonus of many of these tours is that you do not have to worry about drinking and driving. Most will pick you up at your hotel, take you either on a predetermined trip, or where you want to go and return you safe and sound to your temporary abode.
Whether you prefer red or white, or a bit of the bubbly, a Sunday brunch, or a mid-week mini-vacation, a day off or a week off, California’s wine areas can show you a relaxing time.