Guide to Vineyards in Northern California

California has a host of brilliant wine growing regions and areas. Most people think that the Napa Valley is the only place for wine lovers to visit, but there are many wonderful secrets hiding in the hills of California.

California’s Central Valley, has hot, hot summers and mild winters that allow for bountiful table and wine grape harvests.

The Mayacamas Range benefits from ancient volcanic activity. Two million years or so ago, volcanic eruptions deposited a special kind of volcanic ash called the Sonoma Volcanic. This ash landed in the region that is now known as Napa/Sonoma/Mendicino wine growing region.

The Sonoma region is in the high, rugged Mayacamas hill country that is notable for its massive Redwoods and dense hardwood forests and descents into grassy lower altitudes. The two top grapes for the Sonoma region are Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, with over 510,000 acres in active vinyards.

The Napa valley shares a border with the Sonoma region. The Mayacamas range lies to the West and the Vaca range lies to the East, to make for a stunningly beautiful and fertile valley. Over 17,000 acres of Cabernet and 7,600 acres of Chardonnay are grown in The Napa Valley.

Mendocino is bordered on the south by Sonoma County and by the Coastal range and the Pacific Ocean to the west. This is a rugged and seismically active land of Redwood Forests, but Mendocino’s grapes are grown in valleys that are located in the south and eastern areas. 15,000 acres produce delicate whites such as Gewiurztraminer and Sauvignon, and the richer reds of Cabernets and Zinfandels.

The Napa/Sonoma/Mendicino wine growing region is highly recognized as the major source of the top California wines. But there are other wine growing areas that give NSM a run for it’s money. In fact, bulk wines that carry the NSM appelation are allowed to have a limited mix of grapes from other regions.

Amador County: This region has a wine growing history that dates back to the Gold Rush of the 1800s. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon are the predominant varietals that are grown in the 15,500 acres of wine growing land in Amador County. Amador County is about an hour East and Slightly south of Sacramento.

The Sierra Foothills: The Gold Rush also sparked some excellent grape growing in the highest elevations in North Yuba County, Nevada County, and Placer County, the site of the famous “Mother Lode” of northern California. The higher elevations produce low yield, but exceptionally rich and sweet wines. Zinfandel, Cabernet, Merlot, Barbera, and Syrah are grown in the hardy, Iron rich soil.

The Central Valley, where the rivers meet and flow, has rich soil and plenty of nutrient rich water for Cabernet, Chardonnay, Merlot and Zinfandel.

Southern Calilfornia has five major wine growing areas. Most of the wine grapes in Southern California are grown inCucamonga Valley. The oldest wine growing area dates back to the 1800s. Temecula is the newest wine growing area. Malibu-Newton Canyon, the San Pasqual Valley, and South Coast are also great wine producing lands.

Taylor and Norton provides a wonderful guide and map to the wine growing regions of California. Wherever we are in California, there can be a great day of wine tasting and tripping through the beautiful hill and valley ranches included in the schedule!

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