Sun-kissed California is the wine country of the USA- it accounts for nearly 90% of the country’s total wine production, with a unique legacy and a spectacular range of wines- and many of its wineries make a perfect stop on an iconic USA road trip. This is simply a holiday haven for wine lovers, as well as those who are partial to gourmet cuisine and abundant sunshine (and who isn’t?). Make the most of all these with our top tips for wine destinations in California.
The perennially popular Napa Valley has long been a top holiday destination for those who love all things wine, and for good reason- with hundreds of inviting vineyards surrounded by rolling hills, alongside numerous irresistible vintages to try and award-winning restaurants with delicious local produce, Napa ticks all the boxes and more. Why not take a memorable balloon ride over the valley at sunrise? Where to stay? We love Calistoga Ranch, which has its own private vineyard.
Sonoma, the birthplace of Californian wine, is coming into its own, and through its increase in popularity as a holiday spot, it continues to make the most of the dazzling sun and rich soils to create world-class wines, best enjoyed with gourmet local specialities from the tempting farmers' markets. There are also thousands of acres of countryside and picturesque historic towns to explore. All this, less than an hour from San Francisco: combine city and country for a perfect USA holiday. Where to stay? How about Farmhouse Inn, where you can immerse yourself in an authentic Sonoma lifestyle while indulging in Michelin-starred cuisine and some of the region’s finest wineries.
The diversity of wines here, from San Francisco bay (where vines are cooled by the famous fog) to the Santa Cruz mountains (where rich Pinot Noirs and Cabernet Sauvignons are created around the forested peaks), can trace their heritage to the grapes planted by Franciscan monks as they made their way north on El Camino Real (‘the royal road’, now Highway 101) in the late 18th century. Drink in the region's fascinating history as you sample its unique wines.
The flavoursome wines here come from vineyards around the beautiful natural landmarks of Yellowstone National Park and Lake Tahoe- so you are guaranteed spectacular scenery alongside delicious wines, making this yet another ideal Californian holiday spot. This area was the epicentre of the California Gold Rush, attracting thousands of people who sought their fortune and left their vines planted in the promising soils. Atmospheric ghost towns of the Wild West can be found here, but the vineyards are still thriving.
This sun-blessed region is home to a wide variety of wines, from fruity Chardonnays to rich Pinot Grigios and floral Chenin Blancs, often grown in spectacular hilltop settings overlooking panoramic valleys. Enjoy them alongside a typical Californian lifestyle of barbecues and relaxing on endless golden sand beaches.