California Dreaming … (Northern)


Blogging should be about all things topical and I just felt a need to get this one out, because I hear it every day. You have gotten the “wine bug” in a big way and the time has come to plan a wine trip to California. Well, there is “no doubt” that Napa and Sonoma need to be on your automatic list. I would like, however, to open your mind up to additional or alternative options for some varied reasons.

If you are a seasoned California Wine Country visitor, maybe it is an opportunity to discover a new region and new grape varietal characteristic to that region and/or to simply explore.  We all enjoy experiencing something that we can share with others. This is your chance. I will bet that you will be surprised at the names and brands that you will come across.

For those new to California wine travel, this may an opportunity to learn the basics from regions that provide a different, yet pleasurable introductory experience. Many of these alternate regions offer fewer crowds, a more laid back setting and even free (or more value priced) tastings.  Last month I visited Amador County and in one winery, Deaver Vineyards, there were only several other visitors in the tasting room and yet the proprietor, Jo, would not accept any money for my sampling their wines. .. virtually all of them. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Amador County  – about an hour east of Sacramento, I was drawn to this region due to a wine tasting I experienced last year. Solid wines from a region I was unfamiliar with. Was enough of a draw with 40+ wineries present for me to check it out.  Laid back with great people (and wine). Forgot to mention, if you are in to history, this is GOLD country, live and learn.
  2. Livermore Valley  – only 30 miles east of the San Francisco in a region not far from the everyday world , but yet it feels far away from it. 50+ wineries. Some of the bigger names you see but never realized were here (i.e. Wente and Concannon). Plenty of local activity and Bay Area access.    
  3. Mendicino County – a little more “out of the way”, however, well worth it! Go for several days 100+ wineries, mostly small, but the breadth of settings between inland forest and rugged coast is worth the trip in itself. Visit/stay in the town of Mendocino and see where they filmed Murder She Wrote (yes filmed in CA and not Maine).  Added fact  .. Mendocino County is home to the world’s tallest living tree .. 377 feet tall.  

Pick what fits for you. These were a few recommends for alternatives in CA northern regions.  In the future I’ll plan to cover some of the ones as you head south in the state.


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