California Wine Tasting Guide

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Want to do more California wine tasting? Here are some suggestions about where else to go wine tasting after you leave Santa Barbara County.


Sonoma Valley is considered the birthplace of the California wine industry because California's oldest commercial winery (Buena Vista/Carneros Winery, est. 1857) and oldest family-run winery (Gundlach Bundschu winery) are located there.

In 1976, Northern California winemakers made history by winning both the red and white wine competitions in a blind tasting event in France. Over the last several decades, California has emerged as one of the world's top wine-producing regions.

In the beginning, the term "California Wine Country" refered only to the area north of San Francisco. Now, "California Wine Country" can mean any of the wine growing regions in California; from north of San Francisco, south to San Diego, between the Pacific Ocean and the Central Valley.

California Wine Producing Regions

North Coast

The North Coast covers six counties north of San Francisco, including famous Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley and Mendocino and Lake Counties. There are more than 400 wineries in this area. Visit Northern California Vacations for suggestions on planning your Napa Valley wine tasting experience.

If you'll be near Rutherford, don't miss Swanson Vineyards, famous for their "Cab lover's Merlot". The winery is a little hard to find, but well worth the effort. We had a lovely time tasting at the Sip Shoppe this summer.

Central Coast

The Central Coast begins south and west of San Francisco Bay and extends south along the California coast. Santa Barbara wine country belongs to this appellation, as well as wineries in Contra Costa, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Monterey and Paso Robles Counties.

Central Valley

The Central Valley is a major agricultural area divided by the Sacramento River delta into two sections. The Sacramento Valley to the north includes the towns of Redding and Sacramento. The San Joaquin Valley south of the delta includes Fresno and Bakersfield. Wineries are scattered throughout this inland valley.

South Coast

The South Coast includes wineries in five Southern California counties: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego.

Just about anywhere you travel in California, there's a winery close by. To plan your California wine tasting tour, use this California Wine Guide.

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