Any time of year, mountain wineries are cool. Whether they’re on Howell Mountain above Napa Valley, in the topsy-turvy Santa Cruz Mountains perched over the Monterey Bay or high in the Sierra Foothills around Placerville near Lake Tahoe, they have their own special character.
Being at higher altitude, the air is usually a bit brisker.
Often, you’ll notice species of trees and shrubs you didn’t see on the valley floor. And if you visit during harvest, you’ll find the grapes hanging out a bit longer at the higher elevations. Winemakers love this hang time for it brings voluptuous fruit flavors.
You’ll also find some heritage wineries dating back to the late 1800s up on the mountains in Napa. Their old stone walls can’t tell tales, but the winery staff make do with the historic record.
Though mountain wineries are a great destination year-round, we think they outdo themselves in the fall. The air is even brisker and clearer than at other times, and the wineries are decked out with harvest and Halloween themes.
Even more enchanting is the show Mother Nature puts on with the changing colors of her leafy trees. Bursts of gold and red seem even more intense in the mountains. It’s just another great excuse to visit these wineries and sip their best as a bright sun holds off winter’s deepest chill.
Our favorites? Madrona in El Dorado County; Ladera on Howell Mountian, Pride Mountain Vineyard on the border of Napa/Sonoma, von Strasser on Diamond Mountain … and you?