With acres of grassy hills, stunning valleys, and babbling rivers, California’s landscape will never fail to amaze you. Every year this gastronomic and cultural hub for food and wine lures millions of tourists to its doorstep each year. The wine country roads of California are some of the most frequented by road trippers from all around the world. Each scenic route is home to dozens of restaurants, vineyards, and tasting rooms that can be unlike anything you’ve experienced before.
If you haven’t been to this wine country yet, then carpe diem - the time is now! What’s fantastic is that you can visit this region at any time of year because all of the seasons compliment the landscape with varying hues in their own unique way. With so much natural beauty to feast your eyes upon while sipping and swirling gorgeous wines, it’s no surprise that driving through California is the most immersive way to experience it.
Below are some of the best scenic drives to take through California’s wine country. After reading this article, you’re more than welcome to get excited about your future adventures here — this world-famous area is ideal for both the beginner and experienced wine enthusiast!
Napa Valley: Silverado Trail
Looking for quintessential Napa Valley? Then this trail will definitely pique your interest. This country road has only two lanes that are flanked by gorgeous large oak trees and spectacular views of the sprawling surrounding vineyards. Napa Valley is commonly referred to as an adult theme park — and for good reason. It’s home to several of the most well-respected wineries in the entire world. Here you will also find Michelin-starred eateries like The Restaurant at Meadowood.
Transport yourself to the Mediterranean with a visit to Castillo di Amoroso winery to indulge in wine tasting with a medieval flair, or enjoy some well-deserved rest and relaxation at one of the luxurious spas in Napa Valley. The Silverado Trail boasts equally as pretty scenery as Highway 29 but is much less congested. It runs through Napa Valley all the way to Calistoga, and as can be expected, the surrounding views are a real sight to behold.
If you want to experience everything that Napa Valley has to offer, then follow “The Trail.” Dozens of wonderful wineries and picnic points line your path along the way, so you will really be spoilt for choice when it comes to food and drink options.
Some of the most famous wineries like Judd’s Hill and Signorello Estate Winery can be found along this trail as well. If you’re looking for something more quaint, there are plenty of small yet equally as high quality wineries in the area such as Fantesca Estate and Winery in St. Helena. Continuing north along the Silverado trail and you will find yourself surrounded by gorgeous Coast Range Mountains, If you keep driving, you will soon reach Calistoga, famous for its mineral pools and hot springs. This Napa Valley wine tour is definitely one for the wine enthusiast’s bucket list!
The Wine Road
Sonoma County is a key player in California’s wine country and no visit would be complete without a drive through its scenic landscapes and vineyards. Sonoma has risen in popularity over recent years thanks to shorter wait times for restaurants and wine tastings than those experienced in Napa Valley, along with its more casual vibe. There are over 400 wineries in Sonoma, as well as scrumptious local cuisine and a plethora of outdoor activities like cycling, hiking, and hot air balloon rides. The famous Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley, and Russian River Valley are all encompassed by The Wine Road, which twists and turns through the beautiful Redwood Forest and features over 150 vineyards to satisfy your taste buds.
Madera Wine Trail
This trail in a historic wine region of the central valley is becoming more and more popular as small wineries establish themselves. A laid-back, low-key vibe is what you will find here, where you can try a variety of sweet wines for which this area is well-known thanks to the intense heat in the summer. Look out for the Wine Showcase days where you can sample delectable wines during free tastings. You will usually need to have a wine trail passport to be able to take part in these, but they are easy to purchase online ahead of time.
The wineries of Placer County can all be found between Lake Tahoe and Sacramento. Visitors can enjoy bolder varieties of wine here, reminiscent of those found in Italy and Spain thanks to warmer temperatures over the summer months. If you’re excited by the idea of soaking in the views of breathtaking mountain vistas during a lazy afternoon spent sipping wine and reading a good book, then Placer County won’t disappoint.