Tips to wine travel in California: The Wine Country

Wine traveling is absolutely a whole new level of traveling. It’s watching memorable landscapes, tasting unbelievable flavors, appreciating the difference from one type of wine grape to another. It’s an amazing experience for those who know and those who want to know about wine. It’s also a great option for those who are looking for a romantic luxury travel or maybe a different option of adventure and relaxing combined.

The Wine Country refers to an area in Northern California in the U.S. well known worldwide as a premium wine growing region. Their long tradition in winemaking and viticulture dates back to the 19th century. With over a thousand wineries, the counties associated with the Wine Country include Sonoma, Napa, Lake and

Mendocino Counties.
But before getting to the details of the trip, I would like to talk about wine per se.

First things first

There are really important things that Merixtell Falgueras has shared in her article 17 cosas sobre el vino que me hubiese gustado que me explicasen that I found quite useful. In this article, she talks about those unwritten rules about wine that are good to know on a daily basis, but especially when you’re planning to go on a wine trip. I’m not going to share them all, but there are five that are golden:

- Good company: Even the best wine tastes like vinegar surrounded by the wrong party, and a decent wine with a good conversation tastes like glory.
- Summer is the season to wine traveling: When the beach is full the vineyards are not, and vice versa. Autumn is the peak season at the wineries and the busiest at the harvest.
- Educate your palate: With a simple wine tasting course you’ll lose the fear to move the glass, and you may be seen like an expert
- Do not brag: You’ll never know enough about wine and you never know how expert your interlocutor is, so there must be humble before each glass of wine
- Be nice with the wine: There is hard work behind every wine bottle, so let’s think twice before criticize.

I consider these five great suggestions before the journey starts. And if you are already picturing yourself in a vineyard smiling, in a sunny day with a glass of your favorite type of wine, you seriously should keep reading the tips to wine travel that Viviani Destination Management team has shared with us.

Where to stay

Viviani’s Team recommends that if you're going to tour in Napa, stay local, in Napa. And do the same if Sonoma, Mendocino or Lake Counties is the choice. It’s important to avoid the traffic and these Counties are increasing their visitors day by day.

When faced with the dilemma Napa vs Sonoma if wanting to visit both, the recommendation is staying at The Carneros Inn, and visiting Napa one day and Sonoma the next.  It's in a perfect centralized location between the two valleys.

How to choose the wineries

It is a hard decision when you realize that Napa has around 500 wineries and Sonoma 430.
First you have to decide what you want to do, if you want a tasting experience, a tour, hot air ballooning, biking rides through the vineyards and/or buying wine. Be clear with your travel assistant to avoid misunderstandings and have the best experience of all.

Transportation choices
I recommend hiring a host for 3 main reasons:
First: avoid renting a car. No one wants to be the designated driver or drinking while driving while wine traveling.

Second: despite the Uber transportation service works perfectly in the city, it’s not the best way to get from one vineyard to another. The service may take a long time to arrive; the drivers aren’t well informed of the Valleys.  You may also have to coordinate a pickup with a different driver after each winery visit. And last but not least, you would have no place to put away the wine you've been purchasing throughout the day. Uber is great, but not when you want to have an amazing wine country experience.

Third: when you hire an expert host, you're getting much more than just a driver to take you from point A to B.  You'll have a guide who is passionate about the industry and shares insider information and stories that add much more depth to the trip.  They will keep you entertained, on time and safe. The cars they use are environment-friendly, they use solar energy, and they also allow the AC to be on while the car is off, to avoid wine you bought to spoilage. 

Once you know a little bit about wine, choose the right company and follow these pieces of advice, I’m sure you’ll have a wine trip to remember.

If you are interested in a similar experience, or you want a personalized wine travel, do not hesitate, contact me!

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