Home #WHERETONEXT USA California for the Wine Enthusiast: Best Tips for your Trip

California for the Wine Enthusiast: Best Tips for your Trip

Photo by Tanya Guillory

Did you decide to visit California, and are you researching the best wineries to visit? You’ve come to the right place! Check out our blog for all the information you need to plan your dream trip, including the best time to visit, what to pack, and where to stay.

When it comes to wine regions, California has it all. From Napa Valley to Sonoma County, there are endless options for wine lovers to explore. And with over 3,000 wineries statewide, you’re sure to find the perfect bottle (or two) of wine to bring home with you.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Here are our top tips for planning your California wine country vacation:

1. Decide when to visit

The best time to visit California wine country depends on what you’re looking for. If you want to experience the region during peak harvest season, plan to visit between August and October. Not only will you get to see grapes being harvested, but many wineries offer special events and wine tastings during this time.

If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, spring (April-June) and fall (November-December) are ideal times to visit. You’ll still be able to enjoy beautiful weather and stunning scenery without the large crowds.

2. What to pack

When packing for your trip, keep in mind that many wineries require closed-toe shoes for tastings. So, leave your sandals at home and pack a pair of comfortable shoes that you can walk in.

It’s also a good idea to pack a light jacket or sweater, as it can get cool in the evening, especially in the spring and fall. And if you’re visiting during the summer, don’t forget the sunscreen!

3. Where to stay

There are endless accommodation options in California wine country, from luxury resorts to quaint bed and breakfasts. If you’re looking for a luxurious experience, we recommend staying in the Napa Valley. Some of the best resorts in the area include The Meritage Resort and Spa and Auberge du Soleil.

For a more relaxed trip, consider staying in Sonoma County. There are many small towns to choose from, each with its own unique charm. The most popular towns include Healdsburg, Sebastopol, and Occidental.

4. What to do

In addition to visiting wineries, there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy in California wine country. If you’re a foodie, make sure to visit some of the region’s top restaurants. And these are just a few of our favorites:

The French Laundry (Napa Valley)
Saison (San Francisco)

Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy exploring the many hiking and biking trails. And, of course, no trip to wine country would be complete without a visit to a few of the region’s world-famous spas, like Solage Calistoga and Meadowood Napa Valley.

5. How to get around

There are many ways to get around California wine country. If you’re staying in one area, we recommend booking a chauffeured car, so you can explore at your own pace.

If you’re staying in multiple areas or plan on doing a lot of wine tastings, we recommend booking one of the Napa Valley wine tours. This way, you can sit back, relax and let someone else do the driving.

And now, back to wine country. We’ve put together a list of the must-see wineries in each region for you.

Napa Valley:

1. Beringer Vineyards: As one of the oldest continuously operating vineyards in Napa Valley, Beringer has a long history of winemaking dating back to 1876. Located in the heart of St. Helena, the vineyard produces a variety of wines, including reds, whites, and sparkling wines. Visitors can take a tour of the vineyards, enjoy a wine tasting or simply relax in the beautiful gardens.

2. Robert Mondavi Winery: One of the most famous wineries in Napa Valley, Robert Mondavi is a must-visit for any wine lover. Located in Oakville, the winery offers a variety of tours, tastings, and special events. Be sure to try the Cabernet Sauvignon, one of the winery’s signature wines.

3. Domaine Carneros: Specializing in sparkling wines, Domaine Carneros is a must-visit for any wine enthusiast. Wine tourists may visit the winery in Napa, which provides wine-related activities such as tours, tastings, and a lovely park where you can picnic.

Sonoma Valley:

4. Benziger Family Winery: Located in Glen Ellen, Benziger Family Winery is known for its biodynamic wines and stunning views. Visitors can take a tour of the vineyards, enjoy a wine tasting or relax in the picnic area.

5. Buena Vista Winery: As the oldest continuously operating winery in California, Buena Vista Winery is a must-visit for any history buff. The winery, which is in Sonoma County, has tours, tastings, and special events available. Be sure to try the Cabernet Sauvignon, one of the winery’s signature wines.

6. Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate and Gardens: Located in Fulton, Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate and Gardens is a must-see for any nature lover. The estate has several gardens, including a butterfly garden, and hosts tastings as well as special activities. Try the Chardonnay, one of the winery’s signature wines, if you haven’t already.

7. V. Sattui Winery: As one of the most popular wineries in Napa Valley, V. Sattui Winery is known for its excellent wines and delicious food. Visitors can enjoy a wine tasting, tour the vineyards, or picnic in the beautiful gardens. Visit the winery’s website to discover what else it has to offer. Try the Cabernet Sauvignon, one of the winery’s most popular wines.

Now that you have all the information you need to plan your trip, what are you waiting for? Start planning your California wine country vacation today!