More than 100 different kinds of grapes thrive in California, making the Golden State one of the world’s most diverse destinations for wine lovers. And during September’s annual California Wine Month, there are at least as many ways to experience the wine scene as there are grape varietals. From the famed Napa Valley and Sonoma County to up-and-coming wine countries around the state, you can attend special events and find outstanding wines that reflect the unique character of each region.
1. Sample some small-batch wines at the new Restoration Hardware Wine Vault in Yountville, a stylish and surprising spot to try a Corison Cabernet Sauvignon or Blackbird Vineyards Bordeaux Blend.
3. Celebrate Lodi’s famous Zinfandel, as well as Pinot Grigio and other grape varietals, during the Lodi Grape Festival.
4. Discover the terroir of Los Angeles County—yes, you read that right—at the new Angeleno Winery, which produces wines from grapes grown in Agua Dulce northeast of Santa Clarita.
5. Experiment with varietals: The Livermore Valley’s BoaVentura de Caires Winery is only an hour from San Francisco but a great spot to try the Vino Verde white wines of Spain and Portugal.
6. For wines that are positively divine, visit the New Clairvaux Vineyard on the grounds of a historic abbey between Red Bluff and Chico.
8. Book the ultimate trek through California wine country with the super-smart and friendly folks at West Coast Wine Country.
10. The art of winemaking meets the world of contemporary art in the museum-quality gallery at Napa Valley’s The Hess Collection.
12. The Mother Lode in today’s Gold Country is fine wine, including the Amador County Zinfandels you can try in the tasting rooms along Sutter Creek’s Main Street and the premium Spanish and Italian varietals of Calaveras County available in and around historic Murphys.
13. In a tasting room just off Highway 99 in Kingsburg, surprising Ramos Torres Winery pours wines produced from vineyards in the foothills not far from Yosemite National Park.
14. Giddy up to the western-style tasting room at a onetime stagecoach stop at Paso Robles’s Tobin James Cellars.
15. There’s a world beyond IPAs in San Diego’s hop-happy North Park neighbourhood, thanks to Nègociant Urban Winery.
16. Wines meet waves at Santa Barbara’s Deep Sea Tasting Room on Stearns Wharf; at Mendocino County’s blufftop Pacific Star Winery; at Moonstone Crossing Winery in the harbor town of Trinidad; and in the tasting rooms of San Luis Obispo’s Avila Beach.
18. Test your tastebuds with a blind tasting challenge at Scheid Vineyards in Carmel-by-the-Sea—this four-pour temptation is offered throughout September.
19. Wander over to a warehouse: They may not have the romance of a Tuscan-style villa but the converted industrial centres that house Surf City Vintners in Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara County’s Lompoc Wine Ghetto are where you’ll find premium wines from local boutique wineries.
22. Reds and whites in Orange County? Absolutely, thanks to the offerings along the OC Wine Trail.
23. Wine flies free when you travel on Alaska Airlines through Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, so stock up and take a taste of California home with you.
25. Stop in at the Six Sigma Winery in Lake County, a hidden gem that features a lush ranch setting, excellent wines (try the Tempranillo), and tremendous value.
26. Stroll around the village on the Carmel Wine Walk By-the-Sea, where the tasting passport is good for flights of Monterey County wines at 10 tasting rooms along the route.
27. Home to 15 wineries, Clarksburg’s Old Sugar Mill is a one-stop destination for the best of Delta wines.
28. With a culinary event at the lush Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens and a celebration dedicated to all things Pinot Noir, the annual Winesong festival takes you inside the world of Mendocino County wines.
29. Pair Central Coast wines with the region’s iconic Santa Maria-style barbecue at the classic Far Western Tavern in Orcutt.
30. Stomp some grapes at Grgich Hills Estate in Rutherford—it's a classic wine country experience you'll never forget.