Where to Go and What to Do
Before heading out and going wine tasting, get a map of California wine country so you know where you're going.
How a Map of California Wine Country Helps
Aside knowing where you are going, a map of wine country is helpful beyond getting directions to your favorite winery. Perhaps there is a new winery you've not heard of that just came on the scene…you may not have known until you checked out the current wine map. Best of all, wine maps offer more than the just the names of wineries…they go beyond that and talk about what each winery specializes in and which wines they produce. It comes in handy when you're new into town and have nowhere to go. Maps like this fly off the shelf at wineries in Northern California, but here is the best part: It's free!
Types of Maps
There are many places in which you will find wine country maps for different regions of the state. Gas stations, insurance companies, wineries and even some grocery stores carry maps. They range from full glossy to the simple fold-out kind and some cost money and some don't. Here is an insider's tip: free is fine. Actually, the free ones are frequently more up-to-date than the paid one you find at gas stations and stores. Here is a secret-most wineries will get together as a group and help cover the cost of a map. Why? Because it's in their best interest to get as many visitors as possible to come to their winery. By placing free maps in hotel lobbies and at each winery, a natural referral system happens.
Getting More Than Directions
Preparing for a trip before you leave, allows you to plan and route your trip ahead of time and get the most out of your time in California wine country. The best way to efficiently do this is to go online and find maps of specific wine regions. Efficiency is a good thing, but use the information on the maps for more. If you want to go to a winery that you've heard of or tried their wine, make sure they are open on the day you're going and are open to the public. Many people make the assumption that if the winery is there, they are open. Wrong! Make sure you check the information so you don't get turned down…and by the way, make your appointments as far in advance as possible because many wineries book up for appointments. Most regional wine maps tell you all of this information.
So where do you find these maps? Here is a list:
Russian River, Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley
Sonoma County California
- Wine Road Maps - This map offers information about the wines produced at each winery, the hours of operation, and if they are open by appointment or not.
- Sonoma Valley - View these maps online or download them for free.
- Napa Vitners - This site is very in-depth. It mentions all hours of operation, the story behind each winery and the history of the area. Napa Valley is still the most visited (by far) wine region in California, so they have good resources to create top-notch tourism materials.
This is the most northern wine producing region for California.
- Wine Country Getaways - Make sure you research these wineries, they have winter/summer hours that change.
Located in central California.
- Paso Wine - Sideways has made that region famous for wine and Pinot Noir. There are many wineries to sample from, so try for your tasting trip.
- SB Country Wines - is the site for Santa Barbara wine country. This one is loaded with information about hours as well.
For further information, go to the winery's website that you are interested in visiting. Frequently the wine maps will have links to specific wineries so you don't have to go Google-searching for everything. One stop shopping so-to-speak. Wherever it is you are going, get a map, call ahead, plan and then sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor! Cheers!