California is a land of surf and sunshine, yet a particular type of agriculture is what keeps many people traveling to and around California time and again: the vineyard. California is home to many wine regions and we’re going to break down the most popular for you.
Napa, the wine region that pretty much started it all…at least for America. Before the Napa-based winery, Chateau Montelena, won the Paris Wine Tasting Event of 1976 — nicknamed the Judgement of Paris — American grown grapes and wine were frowned upon by the international wine community. The win put Napa and California on the map. Today it is known as one of the premier wine regions in the world. A visit there means the chance to taste at world-class wineries, many of which are housed in gorgeous building with stunning vineyard views. The food scene is also prevalent in Napa Valley, with gourmet restaurants often specializing in farm to table cuisine with extensive wine lists of local vintages. For great wineries and excellent restaurants, your best bet in Napa is to head to the quaint meandering town of Yountville or the country scenery of St. Helena. Reservations are typically needed at most wineries.
Sonoma is Napa’s neighbor to the west. Though it may not be as popular as Napa, that doesn’t stop Sonoma from producing some of the best wine in the California wine area. The tasting rooms may not be as opulent as Napa, but the views and wine are often just as good — and sometimes better. Sonoma also has a lovely downtown area with shops and good restaurants. While you may need a tasting reservation at Sonoma’s most popular wineries, for the most part, you can just show up to the majority of tasting rooms and enjoy a flight of wine.
Santa Ynez Valley
This gem of a wine country is located near the coast in central California. Though given more national attention after the movie Sideways came out, the wine region is still a long way from having the draw Napa has — which isn’t a bad thing. You’ll find passionate winemakers, welcoming tasting rooms with low tasting fees and — oh, yes — some of the best Pinot Noirs in the world. Santa Ynez borders the lush seaside city of Santa Barbara, which has world-class dining and shopping along with its own hip wine tasting area called the Urban Wine Trail.
To taste some of the delicious wines of California, head to the Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival this summer from August 21 – 24, 2014. You’ll get the chance to taste the vintages of some of the top winemakers in the California wine area plus sample cuisine from local restaurants and beer from local breweries and Celebrity Cruises will have a booth at the event where we’ll be giving away prizes and pouring a delicious drink. Visit www.lafw.com to find out more about the event and get your ticket for it.