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San Francisco, U.S.A. — You, friends and family, a convertible and the wide open California road. What could be a better combination? Pairing it with California wine country, of course. Because there are so many choices, California’s Wine Institute has developed five big 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.
From California’s iconic coast to dramatic deserts and the magnificent High Sierras, the great California road trip is on just about everyone’s bucket list. 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.
Here are five of California’s great wine country road trips that can be done 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 more information on visiting California wine country go to www.discovercaliforniawines.com. And to help get you inspired, you can also check out this new California Wine Road Trip video:
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 like Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and others —so let’s explore! 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, the legendary birthplace of 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 Sierras
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. Your wine adventure starts here.
4) Central Coast – Highway 1
What 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: Hollywood and Grapevine
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 wineries in Temecula, Cucamonga and even San Diego and