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California’s wine country is as varied as the state itself. From quiet vineyards surrounded by lush redwood forests along the Mendocino Coast, to the sun-drenched rolling hills of rugged Lake County, the North Coast has about as varied a wine country as you can get.Clear Lake, the state’s largest freshwater lake wholly within the state, makes for a striking backdrop as you drive through the vineyards.In the vineyards surrounding tiny Philo, have your pick of varietals: Gewürztraminer at Handley Cellars or Navarro Vineyards, sip Pinot Noir at Husch.Be sure to stop at charming Mosswood Market in Boonville to pick up local cheeses and other artisanal foods for a picnic to go with your bottles.See what it’s all about at Frey Vineyards, America’s first maker of certified biodynamic wines—they even say they are vegan and gluten-free.For a bonanza of award-winning Mendocino County wines, head inland on Highway 128.
Top vintners have transformed the Central Coast into one of the state’s premier wine regions, with hundreds of wineries to visit in the rolling hills and sunny valleys.
A variety of tasting rooms have sprouted up in recent years, with most of the action located within a 15-minute drive from downtown.
A great place to start is the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center, offering a rotating selection of varietals from nearly 80 local vintners.
Organic, sustainable farming techniques are the norm in this tucked-away corner of the state; You can chat about grapes and grape-growing with local wine makers, who are often the ones pouring the wines in relaxed, unpretentious tasting rooms.
Start near the Pacific, where summer fog and wet winters make for some of the coolest wine-growing climate in California.