California Wine Month (www) starts in September, which is the most exciting time of the year because vineyards and wineries are creating their next great vintage and celebrating with dozens of special events and activities.
For hard-core wine lovers, some wineries are offering immersion activites from grape stomps and horseback and jeep winery tours to winemaking classes.
That also means other wine lovers are flocking to wineries and festivals across the state to see their favorite winemakers and get in on the harvest action themselves.
Tips for getting the most out of your wine country visit:
As added bonus to driving during the cool mornings is that you can watch the mastery of vineyard hands as they rapidly pick the grapes and see these grapes on their way to the wineries. Go during the week when you can get more attention.
First determine what region to visit.
While California’s wine regions are worthy destinations unto themselves, there are wineries located near or en route to most popular urban areas and natural attractions, such as Yosemite, San Francisco, Hollywood, Monterey and Los Angeles. Check out discovercaliforniawines.com to figure out which region is for you.
Select wineries by Varietals or Amenities.
Once you’ve narrowed down your region, a great way to pick which wineries you want to visit is to find out which ones serve your favorite varietals or ones you’d like to try.
Get a Local Wine Tour Guide.
Every region offers wine tours, which gives you insider expertise and safety.
Limit each day’s excursion to a maximum of three wineries so as to get the full experience at each facility: take a winery tour(s), talk to the tasting room staff to learn more about the wines, etc.
Schedule appointments and look at maps to learn the driving routes. If taking a limo or bus, make sure the winery allows limos and large parties and is open for public tasting. Have a designated driver and also use spit buckets and share tastes as appropriate.
Thirty-nine states have passed laws allowing wineries to ship wine directly to consumers residing in their state. Consumers should check with the winery to see if it is approved to do direct-to-consumer shipping in their state.