By Michele E. Buttelman
Signal Staff Writer
Summer tourists have bid California adieu which makes fall the perfect season to explore unique wine destinations in the Golden State.
California has some of the most creative wine vintners producing the world’s best wines. Here’s an intriguing list of wineries to visit on your travels this fall.
Be sure to reserve your wine tastings in advance. Many wineries now require advance reservations.
On the Road to Napa
The Napa Valley produces some of the best wine in the world and has become synonymous with high-quality wine. The valley has more than 400 wineries.
In addition to its variety of grapes, Napa Valley boasts more than three dozen grape varieties. It is also a picturesque vacation destination.
It is almost 300 miles from Santa Clarita to Morgan Hill where this wine tasting road trip begins, about 4 hours, 30 minutes up Interstate 5.
The drive from Morgan Hill to Calistoga only takes 2 hours and 45 minutes, but you’ll want to spend time at each of these special wineries, so plan to spend a few days on this tasting tour.
Many areas of the Napa Valley were destroyed by past wildfires in the region, but many impacted wineries have now returned, reborn and rising like a phoenix from the ashes. So, make sure you check out the winery websites to find out more information.
Santa Barbara Abundance
The city of Santa Barbara offers dozens of winetasting rooms, but make sure to sample the Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.
In Los Olivos, the Fess Parker Family Portfolio, founded by actor Fess Parker, offers The Bubble Shack, a 90-minute tasting of bright and bubbly Fesstivity wines plus Blanc de Blancs, Brut Rosé, Blanc de Noirs and Brut Cuvée.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-style blends are a staple of the Paso Robles area. The winemakers in the region have cultivated the soil and used the climate to their advantage to create some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon wine in the world. Over 200 wineries make up Paso Robles wine country, for a full winery list visit pasowine.com.
Central Coast Wine Time
Historic ranchlands, romantic coast, country roads, charming towns and grapes, lots of grapes, make the Central Coast an outstanding wine country destination.
Top vintners have transformed the area into one of the state’s premier wine regions, with hundreds of wineries to visit in the rolling hills and sunny valleys. Here are just a few “must see” destinations.
This Santa Clarita to Cambria wine tasting road trip spans four towns and 217 miles, plan accordingly.
Expressive Grenache in Morgan Hill
Known as “The Valley of Heart’s Delight’” Morgan Hill is located at the southern tip of the Silicon Valley. So, it is where walnuts and cherries grow next door to microchips and processors.
There’s also Grenache, a warm and expressive wine that has a base of cherry, berry, white pepper spice and at times, even leather or cocoa powder.
William Welch Wines, a new winery in downtown Martinez, highlights locally grown and custom crafted wines on the historic Welch Ranch. Named after local pioneer William Welch and operated by Steve Welch, a direct descendant of Mexican settlers in California, the new tasting room strives to educate about Martinez and its pioneer roots.
Chardonnay in the Tri-Valley
Nestled in the heart of the Livermore Valley lies the oldest, continuously family-owned and -operated winery in the United States. Wente Vineyards began growing Chardonnay in 1908 and produced the first varietal bottled Chardonnay in 1936.
The Wente Chardonnay Clone has parented 75% of all California Chardonnay, one of the state’s two most important grapes.
The iconic PEJU estate in Rutherford, which is the heart of the Napa Valley, is an ode to beauty. It is anchored by a whimsical 50-foot tower, immaculate gardens and a curated sculpture collection.
Known for its warm hospitality, the winery is also home to the award-winning PEJU Cabernet Franc, a wine full of elegance and grace with complex layers and structured tannins.
Napa’s Benevolent Neglect’s hand-crafted, minimal intervention wines are truly one-of-a-kind. Vineyards from Central to Northern California are sourced for their unique terroirs such as the limestone bedrock of Enz to experimental plantings at Alder Springs.
Enjoy the beautiful scenery of downtown Napa with a tasting or glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah and more.
For those seeking an authentic and adventurous foray into the best of California wine country, discover LOLA Wines. Offering daily tastings in a charming 19th century cottage in Calistoga, this winery offers a seasonal selection of small-batch, handcrafted wines.
LOLA Wines for the Adventurous Soul
916 Foothill Blvd 94515
555 Main St. 93428
3776 Santa Rosa Creek Road 93428
4590 Tesla Road 94550
5600 Greenville Road 94550
Steven Kent Winery
5443 Tesla Road 94550
5050 Arroyo Road 94550
New William Welch Wines in Martinez
837 Main St. 94553
90 E. 3rd St. Suite 70 95037
900 Lightpost Way 95037
Morgan Hill Cellars
1645 San Pedro Ave. 95037
Benevolent Neglect Wines
1417 2nd St. 94559
Hope Family Wines
1585 Live Oak Road Paso Robles 93446
PEJU Winery in Napa Valley
8466 St Helena Highway 94573
Fess Park Winery & Vineyards
6200 Foxen Canyon Road Los Olivos 93441