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A California Wine Country travel guide – winery visits and home-grown cuisine

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Take a vacation in California Wine Country and enjoy personalized wine tastings, dinners of farm-fresh, local produce and scenic drives through the lush, green landscape. Book a hotel in California Wine Country and indulge all of your senses.

Get your bearings

Wine is grown throughout California, but the world-renowned California Wine Country is based in the Napa and Sonoma valleys. Located about 50 miles north of San Francisco, the Napa and Sonoma valleys parallel the Pacific Ocean to the west. The Napa Valley is rooted in the town of Napa and runs northwest through the town of Rutherford to Calistoga. The Sonoma Valley is based in Sonoma and runs northwest through Healdsburg to Geyserville. Smaller valleys branch off these two primary routes, rewarding adventurous wine-lovers with Russian River, Dry Creek and Alexander Valley wines.

Winery visits

Some of California’s finest vintages come from Napa Valley, including Robert Mondavi and Beringer, producing the hearty cabernets and buttery chardonnays that made California wine famous. The wineries of Sonoma Valley, including Sebastiani and Kendall-Jackson, are known for their spicy zinfandels and smooth pinot noirs. Make time for boutique wineries as well as established ones. Smaller winemakers offer the hidden gems of California Wine Country: the Russian River’s creamy pinot noirs, Dry Creek’s bold zinfandels and Green Valley’s rieslings.

Wine country cuisine

Farmers markets thrive in towns throughout California Wine Country. Pick up fresh peaches and raw-milk Cheddar cheese for picnics in one of the numerous roadside parks, and dine on locally-raised, organic lamb at dinner. Healdsburg and Sonoma are centers for California dining; Asian, Italian and American restaurants surround the city squares, serving field-fresh salads, crusty homemade breads and flavorful grilled vegetables drizzled with nutty Sonoma olive oil. Head to Bodega Bay or Jenner for plates of freshly caught Pacific seafood, capped off with a crisp glass of California pinot gris.

Wine country towns

Wander off the main routes of the Sonoma and Napa valleys to explore charming towns tucked in the California hillsides. The community olive press in Glen Ellen offers tastings of French, Spanish and Tuscan oils. The Pacific Ocean crashes against rocky coastline in Bodega Bay, a refreshing wine country daytrip. Book a cozy B&B hotel in California Wine Country in Healdsburg, and spend a lazy morning sipping mimosas beneath a feather duvet. 

Transporting souvenirs

Tasting rooms work closely with shipping companies to help visitors take a little bit of the Wine Country home with them. Wineries and UPS offices provide protective packing cartons designed for airline cargo holds, while the U.S. Postal Service and UPS can arrange to have cases of wine shipped.

Active wine country

Join a bicycle winery tour and pedal between rural wineries, refueling at tasting rooms. An escort van carries bottles for bicyclists who decide to purchase souvenirs along the way. Hot air balloon tours begin at dawn, offering bird’s-eye views of the vineyard-covered landscape. After landing, feast on eggs Benedict with a traditional champagne toast.

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