By: Sharon Betts
There is nothing quite like visiting California Wine Country, especially for food and wine lovers. It’s an absolutely perfect destination for milestone celebrations with that special someone, or better yet, a group of friends or couples who enjoy traveling together. That’s what I did, and I’ve had such fun doing it, I’ve been back several times over the years with both old friends and a few new ones!
The two most famed California wine producing regions, Napa and Sonoma, are so expansive and packed with vineyards and wineries, it really does take multiple visits to become a veteran tourist there, and even with a few trips under your belt you often feel like you are just scratching the surface. There are a few good old standby wineries that we love to visit (like Joseph Phelps, Silver Oak, and Caymus in Napa; and Jordan, Benziger, and Dutton-Goldfield in Sonoma), but new ones are popping up all the time, which adds excitement and anticipation no matter how many times you return to California wine country. In addition, there are other California wine districts gaining in popularity, such as Paso Robles and Santa Barbara in the south and Mendocino in the north.
I’ll never forget the day we stumbled onto Ledson in Sonoma, or our first tour of the Del Dotto Caves (original location in Napa). During more recent trips, we have discovered Spring Mountain, just outside St. Helena, and it has taken multiple trips to visit less than half of the 20 or 30 historic wineries there. A few of our favorites on Spring Mountain include Barnett, Schweiger, Sherwin, and at the top of the mountain, Pride, where you are able to set one foot in Napa County and the other in Sonoma County at the same time. It doesn’t hurt either that the wines at Pride are absolutely incredible (especially the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Merlot).
There is no shortage of places to stay in California wine country, ranging from very small Bed and Breakfasts to luxurious Virtuoso properties. And the restaurants there are plentiful as well, with their world famous chefs, many of whom cater to a farm-to-table approach and use fresh local ingredients.
My husband has become so enamored with California wines, he and some good friends have partnered together to purchase grapes and create their own wine. The good news with that project is – other than having plenty of good wine to consume in the near future – we also are assured of many more trips back to California wine country!