Five Great California Wine Country Scenic Road Trips to Enjoy

Sunday, August 05 2012 15:59   Scenic Drives
From California's iconic coast to dramatic deserts and the magnificent High Sierra, the great California road trip is on just about everyone's bucket list. So what could be a better combination than pairing it with the California wine country?

With a little planning, you can include amazing wine regions in your adventures, from hidden gem off-the-beaten path regions like the Sierra Foothills and Temecula to the most well-traveled, such as Sonoma, Napa and Paso Robles.

califvineyards2c_wineinstituteBecause there are so many choices, California's Wine Institute has developed five regional road trip ideas to inspire wine lovers, giving them options to pick their favorites and set their pace. And speaking of pace, don't forget to pace yourself when wine tasting (spitting is more than polite in wine country!) and have a designated driver.

Here are five quick overviews of California's great wine country road trips that can be enjoyed in five days, starting from either San Francisco or Los Angeles.

Don't forget to check out other amenities offered at many wineries, from picnics, bocce ball and concerts to hiking, biking, horseback riding and garden tours.

For details on each five-day trip, visit the Wine Institute's lifestyle and travel web page at .

1) North Coast

There's nothing like a drive on California's scenic North Coast to show you not only the Pacific Ocean's dramatic beauty but also how profoundly it affects the region's climate. That coastal influence gives us San Francisco's famous fog, towering redwood trees, and a perfect home for cool-climate grapes such as pinot noir, chardonnay. This scenic five-day round trip from San Francisco takes you wine tasting, shopping, dining, kayaking and more: visit Sausalito; Muir Woods national park; quaint, coastal Mendocino; and Sonoma County's diverse wine regions.

2) San Francisco Bay Area

This five-day round-trip itinerary is a foodie's paradise, with stops from San Francisco's Chinatown and Little Italy to Berkeley, a center for California cuisine. It also takes you from mountains to the sea: you'll take in the thrilling scenery and wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Livermore Valley and Half Moon Bay.

3) Napa Valley To The High Sierra

This adventurous round-trip itinerary starts in Napa Valley, any wine lover's dream destination, where exquisite cabernet sauvignons await alongside pampering hot springs and bike tours. Then it heads for the hills, exploring Gold Country and the Sierra foothills for gondola rides, panoramic views and off-the-beaten-path wineries before winding back down to earth in Lodi, home to some of California's oldest zinfandel vines.

4) Central Coast - Highway 1

pasorobleswinefestival_pouring_prvgaWhat says California more than driving a convertible with the top down, traveling up Highway 1? With the ocean in view, wind in your hair and wine on your mind, this trip takes you from Santa Barbara's Sideways movie territory to the cool-climate wines of San Luis Obispo and red-wine mecca Paso Robles, then swings back to the ocean and beautiful Monterey before ending in San Francisco. Besides wining and dining, there's a zip line, hiking, Hearst Castle, Big Sur, Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium to interest you.

5) Southern California Adventure

Oh yeah, you're going to Hollywood! And for a wine lover, there's more to Southern California than blue skies, surf and sunshine-it's full of surprising wine regions, where winemaking has been taking place since the late 1700s. On this five-day round trip, you'll hit hot spots like Malibu and Palm Springs while also exploring inland wineries in Temecula, Cucamonga and even San Diego and Malibu.

For more ideas on these and other great California wine country road trips, including California wines, wine regions and winery activities-from tastings to tours, picnics, concerts, bocce ball and more-go to Wine Institute's lifestyle and travel page at

The Wine Institute is the association of more than 1,000 California wineries and wine-related businesses dedicated to enhancing the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine.

For more information on visiting California wine country go to .


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