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  • Best wine regions in California



    Someone who hasn’t been in California (or hasn’t been much in California) might think that there is not that much there except for beaches and urban jungles and Hollywood celebrities. But the wine lover can find something much more to his or her taste there: vineyards all over the place.

    There are no less than 107 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in California, and although Napa Valley is probably the most well known on them, it is merely the tip of the iceberg. So if wine is your passion, California will be a dream come true for your tastebuds, nose and eyes. Here are the best wine regions in California.

    Monterey County

    photo by Sanjay Acharya

    Monterey boasts of more than 200 individual vineyards that produce over 40 varietals of grape. Monterey is a magnificent place, but the ocean air can be rather cool and not very helpful when it comes to ripening the grapes. But these rather harsh conditions make the grape production of Monterey County all the more valuable.

    Recommended vineyards include (but are by no means limited to) Ventana Vineyards, Chateau Julien, and Georis Winery. Also, you might keep an eye out for sea otters (Monterey has the highest population of otters in California).

    Santa Barbara County

    The first grapes in Santa Barbara County were planted in the 18th century, and since the sixties, Santa Barbara has been one of the best wine regions in the states. Some Santa Barbara varietals are extremely sought after, and expensive.

    Santa Barbara is a very pleasant mix of vineyards (115 of them), ancient trees, rolling hills and cattle ranches. Try put the wine tours offered by Whitcraft Winery, Summerland Winery, and Carr Vineyards & Winery.

    Russian River Valley

    photo by Naotake Murayama

    Russian River is popular not ony for its excellent wine, but for loads of other activities: canoeing, trout and salmon fishing, tubing, and beach fun. Most of the grapes grown in Russian River Valley are cool climate varieties such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

    The vineyards in this region tend to be smaller and more laid back then the ones in Sonoma, for example. Try Arista Winery, DeLoach Vineyards or Hop Kiln Winery.

    Lodi Wine Region

    Lodi is located in the Central Valley region of California, just north from San Joaquin Valley. Lodi’s exceptional climate makes it a great place for the cultivation of Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sauvignon Blanc. The climate is mild, almost Mediterranean in feel, with warm days and cool nights.

    Some parts of Lodi will make you feel like you’re in Ch√Ęteauneuf-du-Pape region in France. Visit Borra Winery, Boitano Family Wines and Viaggio Estate and Winery.

    Alexander Valley

    photo by _e.t

    Alexander Valley’s wine producers were blessed with a warm climate that quickly ripens the fruit, so the wines of this region are generally described as fleshy, voluptuous and even chocolatey (the Chardonnay).

    The regions is known mostly for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot varieties, but other types of grapes are grown as well. Some of the best wineries include Clos du Bois, deLorimier Winery and Lancaster Estate.

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