Visiting the wine tasting regions of the West Coast can be a highlight for anyone who enjoys the delicious fruits of the vine. Though the primary reason to go is to taste and purchase favorites, there is much more that draws people to return to the best year after year. Each winery is part of a local culture of vineyards and activities that have been part of life for generations.
Napa Valley, California is the grand adventure for many when it comes to anything related to grapes. But Napa offers other activities which you can add to your itinerary. You could take a balloon ride. You might book a helicopter tour, or kayak down the Napa River. If you really want to enjoy a personalized visit, then hire a local limousine service to organize a tasting and dining tour of the best in the area.
Sonoma, California is home to over 400 wineries, and neighbor to Napa, San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Noted for its award winning vintages, it is also known for plenty of fun things that families can do together. There is a museum dedicated to Charles M. Schultz, who created the Peanuts cartoon. Kids can enjoy riding the rails at Train Town. See the wild animals at Safari West with the animal lovers in your clan. Rent canoes, kayaks, inner tubes or paddle boats at Johnson's Beach & Resort.
Lodi, California has a unique annual release day. Unlike the announcement of a specific new wine product, the vintners host their annual ZinFest for three weekend days to showcase their newest wines. This event is filled with fine foods, live music, cooking seminars and plenty of tasting opportunities. Fifty vineyards from Lodi participate, sharing over two hundred and fifty wines.
Amador County, California is home to many small family wineries where the owners greet guests personally and welcome them to try their products. Nestled up in the Sierra foothills, this is the place to spend some time trying out both free bottle and barrel tasting. This is one spot where cigars have been known to be paired with wines in local events. There are some vineyards in the area that welcome picnic meals on site. You can take a tour of Black Chasm Cavern just outside of the town of Volcano. The Jackson Rancheria Casino has games, lodging and dining. Visit Sutter Creek for the flavor of the historic Gold Rush era while shopping at specialty boutiques and art galleries.
Santa Ynez is an Old West town that maintains its original 1884 Californian cowboy style, along with some sophisticated wineries and activities. Though you can saddle up as the Vaqueros did and taste and ride along your route, you can also opt to make a Segway gliding tour of Solvang and other valley spots. Gypsy Studios organizes painting and tasting amidst the vines classes. Biking, hiking and cycling are all favorite ways to spend time in this historic location.
Temecula is in Southern California, not far from the border with Mexico. It is a beautiful area with several top rated wine resorts consistently producing award winning wines. The best offer a combination of wine, gourmet dining, spas and swimming pools. Hot air ballooning is popular and so are bicycle tours and bi-plane rides. The fashion items to buy in town here are cowboy clothing and resort wear. September is the time to see a grape stomp, as it is harvest time throughout the state.
Paso Robles, California has over 200 wineries. They are a combination of large producing businesses and small boutique operations. One excellent way to get a good overview of the best is to book a food and wine tour with Central Coast Food Tours. For the young at heart, spend some time at the Ravine Waterpark and cool off when the temperatures soar. See the Estrella Warbird Museum or Studios on the Park.
Willamette Valley is Oregon's prime tasting spot. There are over 300 wineries spread over the countryside. To find your way, follow one of the wine trails offered at oregonwinecountry.org. This handy website includes information for events, lodging and information based on the four seasons of the year.
Yakima Valley is where Washington state's wine makers are prospering in an emerging industry. A unique twist on touring is the valley's focus on events for dogs to share with their owners. Wine tours here could include hiking with your dog. There are lodging, dining and activities all designated as dog friendly.