Although a lot of people may think of the ocean, beaches, and Hollywood when they think of California, the truth is that there’s more to see in the coastal state than just sunny shorelines, celebrities, and thousands of failed actors. Whether you partake in a fine glass of wine every now and then or frequently, you probably know that California is also famous for producing the delicious beverage.
In fact, you probably know this through personal, “I’ll have another glass” experience. What you may not be aware of, however, is where exactly the California wine region is.
Why is Wine Made in California?
While parts of California may be better known for their scorching heat and smog-filled air, the reality is that a good portion of the massive state is ideal for growing various types of grapes. You did know wine was made from grapes, right?
Although California is often bombarded by the sun and can be unbearably hot at times, because of its proximity to the ocean, the coastal regions receive plenty of wind and cool down quite nicely at night. Certain kinds of grapes thrive in regions that have a nice mixture of sun, cool breezes, and fog, and as a result, parts of California are great places to make wine.
Apparently, the state’s regions with extensive hillsides are also prime locations for growing grapes, due to the extreme temperature changes they receive. In addition, California has various kinds of rich soil that grapes love to grow in, including ones with clay, volcanic ash, and seabed soil. California dreaming, indeed!
Where are the California Wineries?
Unless you’re allergic to grapes, or have a deep seething anger for anything alcohol related, you’ll consider it good news that California is home to not one, but several wine-producing regions. In other words, there are so many wineries in the western part of Cali that you probably won’t need a map or GPS system to find one.
Depending on who you talk to, or where you do your research, there are numerous wine-producing counties and places in California. According to publications like Discover California, however, there are six regions in the state that encompass nearly all the wonderful wineries. These territories include the North Coast, the Central Coast, the Sierra Foothills, the Inland Valleys, Far North California, and Southern California. Basically, if you throw a dart at the map of California you have a pretty good chance of hitting a wine-producing region.
As the name “North Coast” denotes, this wine region is located to the northwest of California and is a fairly sizeable territory alongside the Pacific Ocean. The hilly region is also one of the state’s coolest in terms of temperature, and is the location of famous wineries like Napa, Sonoma, and Marin among others.
The Central Coast region is located just south of the North Coast area and has a wine-producing legacy that dates back to the 1700s. Cities like Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco are in this territory, which is known for producing fantastic Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. The region is home to more than 250 wineries, according to Discover California!
The Inland Valley region, however, is located to the east of the Central Coast and is the largest wine-producing territory in California. The region stretches from the southern community of Bakersfield past the northern city of Sacramento. If you’ve been to the Mediterranean before then you might feel a sense of déjà vu when you’re driving through the Inland Valley region. By the way, there are more than 50 vineyards to check out while you’re doing so!
To the east of the Inland Valley is the Sierra Foothills region, which, due to its extensive hills, has some of the highest elevated vineyards in the state. While the territory is also home to wonders like Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe, what’s really important is that there are approximately 50 wineries in the region.
The Far North California wine area is the smallest of the regions and is located close to the state’s northern border. Despite its size, there are still several vineyards that produce glorious wine, including the Fieldbrook Winery, Riverbend Cellars, and Briceland Vineyards.
The Southern California region is located at the bottom of the state along its southwest coast. Although the area is also home to cities you may have heard of, like one named Los Angeles or another named San Diego, there are also several dozen vineyards. One of them, in fact, produces a fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon out of grapes that are grown at more than 4,000 feet above sea level.
Can Tourists Visit the Wineries?
So now that you know where all the different wine regions are in California, the more important question is: Can you visit the wineries? Not only is the answer an emphatic “yes”, but as any wine lover who has gone on wine tours knows, it’s a fantastic way to spend a day, or two, or three.
Most vineyards not only welcome cash-wielding tourists, but a lot of them have great restaurants where you can have a bite to eat. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, you’ll save a few bucks by buying the wine at the vineyard!