We recently met someone who had just come back from Napa. “How was it?” we asked.
“Awful! There was traffic and the restaurants were noisy, and everything was expensive!”
Well, it just goes to show, you can’t please everybody.
It also shows that like people, appellations have personalities, and sometimes the person and the region just aren’t a match.
Is there a way to predict if you’ll enjoy a wine trip to Napa, the Sierra Foothills, Temecula, Santa Barbara or other appellations?
We think so. Just by researching what each appellation offers, you can get a pretty good idea of the overall tone of the trip you might have, and then judge for yourself.
Here are quick takes on who might best enjoy the following appellations:
Napa: People who want to experience the upper echelons love Napa. The region is the top tier for California wine, so you’ll find famous wineries, prestigious restaurants, manicured wineries, gardens and cellars and status symbols everywhere, from cars to clothes and of course wine. Romantics devoted to the wine country lifestyle are nuts about Napa, too. So are wine lovers who like their touring simple: hwy. 29 is a straight line with wineries galore, one after another.
Sierra Foothills: If you enjoy a somewhat rustic, welcoming vibe in a mountainous region where wineries
are very seldom near each other, consider the Sierra Foothills. The appellation is huge, covering eight counties. Western history buffs will be over the moon at places like Sutters Mill and Placerville. You can even sip wine watching the frog-jumping contest in Calaveras County made famous by Mark Twain. Aside from the history, the mountain-grown wines are distinctive and some of the scenery is quite beautiful. Hello, backpackers.
Temecula: Those who like a leisurely but luxurious pace will appreciate Temecula, about an hour north of San Diego. The ambiance is relaxed, influenced by nearby Mexico’s “manana” culture. The valley makes it easy to visit wineries; they line each side of the road and are just minutes away from each other. Temecula’s fabulous climate lends itself to outdoor concerts and outdoor dining. Life is slower here. Temecula offers a feeling of vacation that you don’t always find in other wine country. If you like to smell the roses (at the end of each vineyard row), this is the place.
Santa Barbara: Adventurous souls find a home in Santa Barbara wine country. Unless you’re in the village of Los Olivos in the Santa Ynez Valley or in downtown Santa Barbara’s urban wine zone, wineries are not bunched together like fish in a tank. This wine country spans more than 50 miles over a high mountain pass and embraces an incredible range of terroir from the hot Happy Canyon in the far east to the very cool (even in summer) Sta. Rita Hills in the west. You’ll need your GPS (and bring a map–GPS may not always work), different changes of clothes and a Marco Polo-type personality for this wine country.
Ever had a mismatch with an appellation? Or the perfect match for you?