The Ultimate Wine Country Experience

Over the past two decades, wine consumption in America has grown considerably. In fact, owing partially to its sheer size, Americans buy more wine than any other country in the world. To satisfy this demand, almost 8000 wineries exist in the United States alone; accounting for roughly ten percent of the world’s production. Many of these wineries open their doors to the public, allowing wine tourism to grow. But with so many wineries to choose from, how does one decide where to go for the ultimate wine country experience?

Easy. Start with the state producing the most wine in the country; California. So here are four wine destinations that are easily accessible from San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Napa Valley

Considered one of the best wine destinations in California, Napa Valley features over 400 wineries, each with their own unique histories. There are also high-end resorts and spas, restaurants with the most delicious dishes, and wine festivals lined up for the summer.

For instance, the Festival Napa Valley begins July 15th and continues until July 24th. The 10-day festival combines the fine arts with fine wine and fitness programs, for a memorable experience.

Sonoma Valley

Along with Napa, is Sonoma Valley, which is a winemaking region in northern California. This destination features 425 wineries and a great view to drink it in. Sonoma includes miles upon miles of coast land and redwood forests. At this destination, you can look forward to enjoying premium wines alongside dishes made with the freshest ingredients, right off the farm with many of the restaurants growing or making herbs, veggies, craft cheeses and the like on-site.

Santa Cruz

Though not as popular as Napa and Sonoma, Santa Cruz is home to one of California’s first AVAs. The 70 vineyards in the region are well-known for their Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. Some of the absolute best wineries in town include Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers, Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards, and MJA Vineyards.

Silicon Valley

Though much better known for producing innovative technology, this region also produces premium wine; particularly in the village of Saratoga. There are also several tasting rooms in town, where you can sample wines while soaking up views of scenic landscapes. For wine-lovers who also enjoy good music, try catching live performances at Paul Masson’s Mountain Winery.

Silicon Valley also throws in a touch of luxury with spa treatments at retreats built to take advantage of natural, mineral springs. Many of these structures existed from as early as the 1800s and contain a unique history.

Just like adventure and nature tourism, wine tourism continues to grow in America in tune with the continued growth of wine consumption. Though California certainly leads in wine production and therefore wine destinations around the country, there are several others in states like Washington and New York.

David Milberg is a New York financier.