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California Wine Trip

California Wine Trip - from LA to central california, oh boy, just the sound of that makes my eyes twinkle and my already big smile somehow get bigger. Our very first wine tasting was at the Volcano Winery on the big island of Hilo in Hawaii. The wines are light and fruity and for our soft palates that was just the ticket for our never ending wine tastings and vineyard tours from Florida to California to Hawaii and everywhere in between.

Los Angeles - The San Antonio Winery was established in 1917. And, even though the Los Angeles River is now paved and the more than 100 vineyards have been replaced by industry the San Antonio Winery remains in its original location and is the only producing winery in L.A. The San Antonio Winery and Maddalena Restaurant is a cultural and historical landmark and the moment you open the big wooden doors you know you are some place special. We highly recommend eating at the restaurant because it is delicious, worth it, and the atmosphere is just lovely. They have a comprehensive tasting room and hundreds of domestic and imported labels in their international wine shop.

I believe the San Antonio Winery was our second time wine tasting and it was fabulous. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves tasting and dining amongst the casks-lined walls. However, it was not that easy for all of the lefts and rights and then getting off the interstate was tricky as there is only one sign for the exit for Main Street and that is at the exit itself. I think we changed four lanes in a split second, thankfully without incident.

picture of california wine grapes

Santa Ynez is now better known because of the movie "Sideways". There are over two hundred wineries, vineyards and tasting rooms between Santa Ynez, Los Olivos, Buellton, and Solvang. There are tours which encompass certain groups of wineries that you can take on your own or with a group. The Lake Cachuma Recreation Area is a beautiful and peaceful place to camp or RV and only a very short but highly scenic drive to either Solvang or Santa Ynez. If you only had one day you could still see and do so much that by dinner time you would be reminiscing sweetly over a day well spent in Santa Barbara Wine Country.

picture of wine barrels in california winery

Paso Robles has more than 170 wineries and 26,000 vineyard acres. We recommend going to the Far Out Wineries so you can savor the beautiful scenery while driving or bicycling from one winery to another. The estate wineries are totally gorgeous and some very unique. The City Park is flanked with restaurants, bars, boutiques, and wine tasting stores. It is so large that when there is a festival or concert happening you can go to the other end for some privacy with a hint of background music. And, how can you go wrong visiting wine country when the ocean is only a hop, skip, and a jump away. Perfect.

Sonoma and Napa - Sonoma is upscale but the wineries are not as posh as Napa Valley. We tasted our first ever non-oak barreled Chardonnay at Jacuzzi and it just blew us away, in a good sense, that we just had to buy a bottle. We should've bought more than one though. Even though I enjoy going to some not so well known wineries we had a fun time at Sutter Home. The staff was super friendly and fun. There are some Napa wineries where you actually have to pay a fee before even getting to the winery itself. That is a bit overdone if you really think about it. We also tasted some delicious cheese at one of the wineries. Check out the wineries and vineyards in Florida and Arkansas. Wine isn't always made from grapes and these wineries prove that there are some delicious fruity wines made from blueberries to the star fruit.

Temecula - In the mid 1960's grapes began to be planted and now 22 wineries produce wine in Temecula. Needless to say, this is a fairly newer wine country situated inland in southern California. I thought the drive from the city to the wineries was allright but definitely not as scenic as the drives in Paso Robles or Santa Ynez. We tasted at three or four wineries. Keyways vineyard is one of the original in the area. The winery and estate has a warm and cozy atmosphere while tasting and the grounds were stunning. At Wilson Creek we tasted wine and champagne. The champagne was so good that we bought a bottle as a birthday gift for a friend. Their gardens are exceptional and there is a gazebo that overlooks a stream. I found that most of the wineries where the tasting actually take place were simple warehouse style buildings that didn't have much character to them. This, of course, is disappointing because one of best parts about going from one winery to the next is the landscaping and the awesome architecture of the buildings. I would like to go back and give it another try. But if I had to make a choice to revisit any of the above wine countries I would choose Temecula as my first choice.

picture of vineyard in temecula california

Jason's thoughts - Paso Robles is my favorite wine area we have ever visited. Make sure and relax. Don't try racing through 130+ wineries in two days. Pick four to seven on a route that sound interesting from the brochures given away in the area and go to each one, tasting, eating, resting and taking pictures. The grounds of most are very pretty. You can drive to the coast when you are done and it is a beautiful ride as well.

Kelly's thoughts - If you were to ask me which place is my favorite I would say that I can't choose just one. But if you threatened me to answer it then I would say Paso Robles. But really I believe every winery or wine country named on this page is unique in its own way. These places are definitely worth the time and effort it would take to travel there.

American Road Trips - reviews & pictures of places we visited on $20 a day - food, gas and lodging.


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