A vast area of Northern California is known throughout the world as top dollar wine growing country. Vineyards have been booming here since the early 19th century and such is the attraction to these sprawling fields of viticulture that tourists can, and often do, visit here and spend a week tasting wine, enjoying the art of watching winemaking and visiting many of the vineyards that grace this huge area.
Panoramic Views and Rides on a Gondola
Clearly one of the best ways to see the Californian winemaking region is to get some advice from the experts, the seasoned traveler or those that have done it all before. One such journey is to start off at the Napa Valley and make your way to the High Sierra. It’s a round trip that involves where you can hire cycles for the day at many outlets and pedal round some local winemaking chateaus.
The exquisite journey will take you to the Sierra Mountains where you will see the foothills and explore some of the gentle rivers down here by gondola. Yes, it’s not only in the streets of Venice where such a gentle form of transportation exists! It is in this region where you will not only see wine being grown but those stunning views in areas of outstanding natural beauty.
After witnessing the Napa Valley and seeing all the Cabernet Sauvignons you will venture up to the area they call Gold Country. Many of the wineries are so well hidden off the beaten track that getting to them can be a challenge in itself.
After spending a few days in the Gold Country you will head back to earth in the Napa Valley. However, your feet won’t be firmly on the ground for very long if you opt for one of the spectacular hot air balloon rides high above the Napa Valley.
A Booming Economy
One of the best things to have happened to the Californian Wine Region in recent years is the uptake in small wineries to start a lucrative winemaking business across the Napa Valley. The state of Californian government has actively encouraged it over the past few decades and the region has seen a monumental increase in the industry in the last 40 years.
It has meant that those 20 or so wineries that existed here in the Napa Valley and Sonoma County region have now expanded to around 500. One can only imagine what this has done for the tourist industry across the valley and region in general.
Hot air balloons dot the skyline and a gentle walk around the vineyards in the hot Californian sun will not go without the odd sound of a gust of hot air being blasted into the many balloon trips just a couple of hundred feet above your head.
Biking and hiking are also very popular and if you venture further into the Napa Valley State Park you will find you can tour the Silverado Trail. This is where all those silver mines used to be and bandits roamed the badlands right up until about 100 years ago.
To explore more adventures and winery activities, you simply must visit the El Dorado County wine region. Here you will find small markets where you can taste local wines and buy produce. Nevada County and Placer County are areas where you can enjoy a rich and fulfilling guided tour either by bike or on horseback.
The Famous Madera Wine Trail
A relaxing but adventurous vacation spending a week around the Californian Wine Country cannot be determined as complete without sampling the exotic Madera Wine Trail. You will start off at the Birdstone Winery in Madera where you will enjoy a few hours wine tasting and sampling local culinary delights before moving on to the Idle Hour Winery just off Highway 41. Along the way you can enjoy several stops off at ranch wineries all within easy reach from Highway 41 or Highway 49.
Yosemite National Park
Every year in May there is the Yosemite Grant Wine Celebration, which is a two-day event in itself. You can enjoy the fine wines of this region and partake in a number of activities which have a Yosemite-based theme.
Madera is the gateway to the mighty Yosemite National Park and it is possible to spend an evening at a hotel in San Francisco before travelling inland to Madera and spending the night camped or in a small trailer here before heading into the national park area the next day. Many tourists will opt to spend the night in San Francisco, run the Madera Trail, spend the night in Madera and wake up on the final day and head off into the Yosemite heartlands. Just remember to take that cooled bottle of Oregon Pinot Gris with you!
Been on a wine vacation in California? Let us know if we missed any great wineries that should be included – big or small!