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must-visit california wine regions

10 Absolute Must-Visit California Wine Regions

California is renowned for its diverse and vibrant wine regions, offering options to suit all personalities and palates for the perfect wine-tasting experience.

Let’s dive into the must-visit California wine regions you should know!

Napa Valley

We had to start with arguably the most famous first. Known for its prestigious wineries and picturesque landscapes, Napa Valley is a must-visit destination for wine enthusiasts. It made history back in the 19th century with its award-winning Bordeaux blends, good enough to beat France. From big wineries jumpstarted by celebrities to small wine projects, there’s so much to explore in Napa. Plus you must visit the Oxbow Public Market to savor all the delicious local bites.

Sonoma County

Sonoma County AVA

Just west of Napa lays the just as famous Sonoma County, home to a wide range of wineries offering diverse wine varietals. You can explore historic wineries or experimental wine projects by ambitious young faces, all showcasing the brilliance of this impressive California AVA. It’s also a pretty big wine region, meaning you can never get bored.

Wine to Note: Domenico Winery 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon

Amador County

Let’s travel to the Sierra Foothills of California to Amador County – a lesser-known but highly regarded wine region that has been gaining recognition for its exceptional wine production. The region is particularly celebrated for its rich history in winemaking, which includes its exceptional talent for producing high-quality Zinfandel wines. What’s even more magical is the variety of Zinfandel in the area – there are even Italian grape biotypes (more famously known as Primitivo) and Croatian biotypes planted as well!

Wine to Note: Domenico Winery 2018 Primitivo

Mendocino County

Heading North we land in Mendocino County, where the wine-tasting experience is much more laid-back, but not a drop less interesting. This wine region is known for its emphasis on sustainable and organic winemaking practices. With its stunning mountain peaks and vistas, you won’t be surprised – Mendocino is a natural wonderland, producing excellent, vibrant wines at higher altitudes.

Wine to Note: Domenico Winery 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon

Russian River Valley

The Russian River Valley is a renowned wine region located in Sonoma County, California. It is celebrated for its cool climate, diverse microclimates, and its production of premium cool-climate varietals, particularly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The region’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the Russian River creates favorable conditions for growing these delicate grape varietals.

Wine to Note: Domenico Winery 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon

Paso Robles

Let’s head a little more south to Central California, particularly to San Luis Obispo County where we find Paso Robles. This wine region boasts a thriving wine scene with a myriad of gorgeous soils and aspects, making room for many varietals. Paso Robles has a particular focus on Rhône and Bordeaux varietals, yielding robust red wines beloved by many.

Santa Cruz Mountains

The Santa Cruz Mountains AVA is a prominent wine region found in the Central Coast area of California. Many winemakers flock to this area for the incredible grapes its high-elevation vineyards, unique microclimates, and the production of premium cool-climate varietals. This region is characterized by its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, which contributes to the maritime influence and cooling fog that create optimal conditions for growing high-quality grapes. That means wines with acidity, freshness, and finesse!

Wine to note: Domenico Winery 2021 Chardonnay

Santa Barbara County

Last but not least – we are heading to the southernmost area on the list – Santa Barbara County. Santa Barbara itself is known for its beauty, now imagine savoring this beauty in a bottle. This wine region is known for its cool-climate wines, particularly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The wines’ character varies heavily on the winemaking styles but are nevertheless fascinating and delicious. Making a visit here is always worth it – some wineries boast views that call this area the ‘Italy of the West Coast’!

Bonus an under-the-radar must-visit California wine region

Tracy Hills

This historic agricultural area is slowly but surely becoming a gem of a viticultural area. It naturally has excellent drainage, making it a haven for grapevines that yearn for dry spaces. Tracy Hills has also become a place where Italian varietals flourish, with wineries planting varieties like Aglianico, Ciliegiolo, and Freisa.

Wines to Note: Domenico Winery 2019 Freisa

These regions offer a wide range of wine-tasting experiences, each with its own unique charm and distinct wine varietals. Ensure to plan your visit in advance, as some wineries may require reservations, especially during peak seasons.