California - Napa - Sonoma

Wine tasting in California’s Sonoma and Napa Valley is a great experience. California is the world’s fourth leading producer of wine, producing over 800 million gallons and produces 90% of all wine in the United States. Italy, France, and Spain produce more.

In February, I was fortunate enough to visit the region for a few days and enjoyed the unseasonably warm eighty degree temperatures. The vistas are breathtakingly beautiful. If you haven’t been to this region, I suggest you plan a visit to experience this on your own. I planned to visit as many wineries as possible, plotted a map, circled my favorites and made phone calls ahead of time. Many wineries require a reservation. I scheduled appointments in the morning and late afternoon, then visited other wineries that didn’t require a reservation in between.

Chalk Hill, Lancaster Estates, Jordan, Sequoia Grove, Kuleto Estate, Ehler Estate, Silver Oak, Honig, and Hall Wineries are a few of my favorites. Most are known for the Cabernet Sauvignon from the Alexander Valley, but have many other great options. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are two other wines that are made exceptionally well in the California climate.

The expertise and winemaking skill is abundant in this region and competition is fierce.

When tasting the Cabernet from different wineries, you can definitely tell those grapes that came from the Alexander Valley verses the other mountainous hill regions surrounding the valley. I enjoyed tasting the subtle differences in the winemaker’s skills from winery to winery and enjoyed each winemakers version of what they thought was the best wine.

From aging the wine longer to using different combinations of American, Hungarian and French oak barrels, to the toasting level of each wine barrel, or even using stainless steel tanks, each winemaker has their own way of making an amazing wine. Mother Nature then throws in weather conditions that are not always favorable to grapes and thus you will always have differences in the taste of the same wine from one vintage to another.