Hawley Dunbar tastes wine - photo Max Whittaker
California is, without a doubt, the wine capital of the United States. The state produces 90% of all U.S. wine, and two-thirds of all types of wine sold in America.
In fact, California is the fourth-largest wine producer in the world, behind France, Italy, and Spain. More than 110 grape varieties are grown, with top varietals including Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Sauvignon Blanc.
California’s wineries stand out as exceptional destinations, with tours, tastings, artwork, gardens, dining, performance spaces, and even swimming pools. California’s wine scene has produced some of the country’s top luxurious inns, exceptional restaurants, and beautiful spas, complete with hot-air balloon rides and guided tours by bike, limo, and bus. Most of which can be found along California's classic wine roads.
Perhaps California’s most famous wine address is Napa Valley, a 56-mile-long wine heaven with hundreds of wineries in everything from rustic barns to lavish castles and historic mansions. Just west of Napa is the more intimate Sonoma Valley, cradling more than 425 wineries. Farther west and north, the wineries amid the rugged and redwood-trimmed hills of the Russian River Valley and Mendocino produce exceptional wines, many using organic techniques.
More great wineries can be found as you go south through the state. Gold Country has about 180 wineries, while the Central Valley’s facilities produce 70% of California’s wine grapes. Hundreds of wineries dot the rugged hills and valleys on the Central Coast around Santa Cruz and Monterey, and farther south in the coastal hills surrounding San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. Another 150 wineries can be found in Southern California from Ventura and Malibu in the north to L.A. and San Diego in the south.
So it takes a big event to capture the sheer scale and diversity of the California wine scene. Whether your client is a serious oenophile or a newbie looking to learn more, California Wine Month is held annually in September, offers more than 55 events throughout the month during an ideal time of year to visit.