California Wines: Exploring Different Wine Regions in California

California Wines: Exploring Different Wine Regions in California

Vinely Wine Club

There’s a good chance that you’ve already heard of Napa Valley. It’s one of the most well-known wine regions of California – or the world for that matter. But, is it where you’re going to find the unique wine experience that only small, boutique wineries offer?

California produces around 90% of wine in the United States, which means it’s got a lot more to offer than just Napa. If you want to reach beyond the central hub of wine tourism and escape into more refined locations, you’re going to want to check out these other California wine regions. They are home to some of the best family-owned, boutique wineries you could hope to find.

Sierra Foothills

The Sierra Foothills is one of our absolute favorite places to visit. You’ll find some of California’s oldest wineries here, so it’s a great place to hunker down, get cozy, and sample local wines with a rich history behind them. From gold mining to vineyard acreage that was expanded in the prohibition era, there’s a lot to learn about the Sierra Foothills and the local wineries you’ll find nestled in this prime spot.

With nearly 100 wineries in this region, you’re bound to find something that caters to your taste. At 3000 ft above sea level and an average of 37 inches of rain each year, the Sierra Foothills is widely known for its full-bodied reds, including Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Cabernet Franc.

If you’re looking for wonderfully inviting, cozy little towns to visit in this region, you’ll want to stop off at Murphys, where you can find over two dozen wine tasting rooms, artisan shops, and fantastic gourmet food, alongside boutique accommodations and vineyard views.

One of our favorite places to stay overnight is the historic Murphys Hotel, a historical destination dating back to 1856 when Gold Rush miners flooded the area in search of wealth.

A short walk from Main Street, you should not miss the beautiful tasting room and welcoming vibe of Frog’s Tooth Winery, known for their complex, hand-crafted, small-batch bold reds made with love by winemaker, Will SavoieHoule.

If you’re also a fan of hiking, you can combine your wine tasting adventure with an epic hike (and swim!) in the caves at the Natural Bridges Trail in Calaveras County. Don’t forget the pack a bathing suit!


If you prefer to step out of the touristy spotlight and love looking at rugged coastline, you won’t want to miss a trip up to Mendocino.  Located two and a half hours north of San Francisco, this Californian wine region is home to several small eclectic towns, as well as vast redwood forests and, of course, miles and miles of vineyards.

As well as sampling some of the best California wine, you can also visit organic breweries, go on adventurous hikes, or just take a leisurely stroll along the beach.

You’ll also find a number of sustainable local wineries here, including our own club winery, Graziano Family of Wines in the small historic town of Hopland. Winemaker, Alexandra Graziano, is the 4th generation winemaker in a family that has been growing grapes in Mendocino county for over 100 years.    

In fact, you’ll find a total of 83 vineyards in Mendocino county, at an elevation of 2000 ft. With 43 inches of rain every year, this is another California wine region that offers top-rated reds, including Syrah and Zinfandel.

Closer to the coast, the temperate climate of Anderson Valley has the lovely fog to thank for its distinctive wines. Lying just 15 miles from the coast, this AVA is known from its fantastic Pinot Noir and sparkling wine production.

Lula Cellars in Philo will have you swooning over their stand out Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. During your visit, you’ll even learn all about their sustainable vineyard management, which is driven by their love of nature.

Hendy Woods State Park will also capture your attention with its natural beauty and fun hiking trails, after which you can continue down to the old village of Mendocino, where you will find a Victorian era town stuck in time alongside breathtaking views of cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to California wine regions, there’s so much out there to explore.  From high quality, small-batch wines to rugged coastline and beautiful views of the sea, there’s no end to what you can discover in the hidden gems of California’s lesser-known wine regions.  With all the incredible family-run wineries that have producing some of the nation’s best wine for decades, your experience in these regions will change the way you look at wine!

Rachel Sikkema

Rachel Sikkema is Vinely’s storyteller. She loves writing about all things wine and telling the story of local wineries and winemakers. When she's not testing out exciting new labels to write about, she's busy running around after her two young daughters.


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