If you have a passion for biodynamic wine, farm-fresh food and miles of toasted-oat hills, come to the California Wine Country. Northern California is the place where some fascinating winery-laden valleys are located. Most popular are Napa and Sonoma, but Dry Creek, Russian River and Alexander Valleys are also very famous. The Maya camas Mountains divide Napa and Sonoma Valleys, and the way between the two is narrow. The most picturesque way is tree-lined Trinity Oaks between highways 29 and 12.
Napa Valley is jam-packed with wineries and five-star restaurants. It is the hub of the area. The best way to reach there is to go down the Silverado Trail instead of Hwy 29. Sonoma is sloppier and stretched, even though Hwy 12 is not the most appealing drive as it can also get backed up. Beautiful Dry Creek is the best option for biking between tasting and rural West Dry Creek Rd is a good stake. Russian River is the favorite of local people. It is full of wineries all along Westside Rd and canoeing in summer and fall. Alexander is the calmest valley, having an Old West aura and red wines.
Though tasting rooms remain open throughout the year (around 10am to 4pm), the best time to visit these valleys is spring, or still better fall. Visitors should plan to visit only three to four wineries a day, as tastings usually take in four to six different types of wines and vary from free to US $ 25. There is a great variety of wines, many of them organic or biodynamic. Napa Valley specializes in cabernets and meritage, while Sonoma Valley is known for syrah and zinfandel. Dry Creek’s famous varieties are Sauvignon Blanc, syrah and sangiovese. Russian River’s specialty is pinot noir and Alexander Valley has zinfandel and chardonnay.
Though most of the wineries are clustered near small towns, it is very difficult to find an affordable place to stay, especially in summer and fall. There are many alternatives, but if all options fail, Vallejo is the best place. It is about 20 minutes from downtown Napa with many cheap chain motels off the highway, or Santa Rosa to the north. Farm-to-table cuisine, diners, or anything else, food is no problem here. One can enjoy nightlife going to the small-town bars with microbrews and early closing hours. Visiting these fascinating winery-laden valleys is a wonderful experience.