If you’re a wine lover planning your next vacation, California’s wine country is an obvious destination. This bucolic area of the country offers much to explore and something to fit every traveler’s preferences.
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1. Napa Valley — Just an hour’s drive north of San Francisco, Napa Valley is the most famous wine country destination with more than 400 wineries, says Visit California. The region is known for cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay, but visitors are encouraged to sample many other varietals. Take advantage of elegant lodging options and dine at some of the finest restaurants in the country in Napa Valley.
2. Sonoma County — According to U.S. News and World Report, Sonoma County is often regarded as a laid-back alternative to elegant Napa Valley. Located west of Napa Valley and closer to the coast, it is less crowded, more rustic, and its cool, foggy climate is perfect for chardonnays and pinot noirs. Thrillist recommends checking out small towns like Healdsburg and Sepastopol during your trip.
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3. Mendocino — Located on California’s north coast, laid-back Mendocino County boasts some of the country’s most progressive organic and biodynamic wineries nestled among dramatic redwood forests, says Visit California. In fact, it has the most acres of certified organic vineyards in the country. Mendocino is one of the most scenic and least crowded destinations for wine lovers.
4. Central Coast — Not only does California’s central coast offer breathtaking, dramatic coastal views, its cool climate is perfect for chardonnay, pinot noir, and syrah. Thrillist recommends taking a drive north from magical Big Sur to Carmel-by-the-Sea in Monterey County. There, you can buy a $65 wine walk passport and taste at any nine of 14 tasting rooms along a self-guided tour.
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