Wine & Travel

Snooth User: AlineAlmeida

Cali Wine Country: Napa/Sonoma or Santa Ynez/ Lompoc (Santa Barbara)?

Posted by AlineAlmeida, Apr 10, 2013.

Hi everyone! I just got a very good deal on Virgin to Los Angeles, so I am going end of September... harvest, I hope??

Wanted to get tips from you, wine lovers: I've been meaning to take a good wine trip in Cali (have posted about it before) and finally convinced a good friend to drive me wherever I want!! She has been to the Santa Barbara wine country and not Napa, so she is inclined to go for the latter. But I will only be there for 3 and 1/2 days, so not sure if I want to spend so much time driving without tasting wine...

Thoughts, anyone? 

Thanks in advance!


Reply by outthere, Apr 10, 2013.

LA to the North Bay is a good 6-8 hour drive, depending on how often you stop and Bay Area traffic, so figure to spend the majority of 2 days driving. If you are flying into LA go to the Santa Rita Hills to do your tasting.

California is a HUGE State that takes forever to transverse. LA to Napa is  like driving from Charlotte to Boston.

Reply by EMark, Apr 10, 2013.

OT is giving you good advice Aline.  Sta. Rita Hills has a good reputation for Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs and is about a 3-hour drive from Los Angeles.  All bets on that time estimate are off if you are arriving at LAX during rush hour and plan to head up there immediately.  Of course, Sta. Rita Hills is darned close to the Santa Ynez Valley.  Another 30-45 minutes or so up Highway 101 is Santa Maria Valley.  Another 30 minutes or so past that is Edna Valley, and another 30 minutes or so after that is Paso Robles.  There is good wine to try in all these areas.

Like OT says, if you try to get up to Sonoma or Napa, you're going to dedicate two days to driving.  If you go as far as Paso Robles you'll spend about 10 hours driving up and back.

Reply by shellytoombs, Apr 11, 2013.

I agree with EMARK.... Lots to explore in area without spending so much time on the road all the way to Napa/Sonoma. Paso Robles is one of my favorite regions and I have a pretty good list of wineries I've visited for recommendations. Paso is about 3.5 hours from the central L.A. area. Napa/Sonoma will be at minimum an overnight trip

Another option is head south to Temecula and San Diego ( Yes, San Diego)  About 2 hour drive.There are over 40 wineries and if you think its something you would like to do let me know. I can be your free tour guide.


Here is what I did for my last road trip.  I work in the wine industry so this was a "Market research trip" ;)

Start: San Diego

Headed strait to Napa. 9 hours  (one winery stop in livermore)

stayed the night in Napa. Day exploring wineries. 1 more night Napa.

Headed out early in the day and stopped in Paso Robles to explore the region and taste.

Stayed the night in Paso and headed home.


Cheers to your trip planning!


Reply by Richard Foxall, Apr 11, 2013.

September is likely too early for harvest.  Plus you don't really want to be in wine country then--no one has time for anything but picking.  And the trucks on the road bringing grapes to the wineries?  A trailer overturns and blocks the road somewhere at least a couple times per harvest.  It's heart-rending--all those grapes going bad on the hot pavement.  Best case scenario it's merlot, but even so...

From LA, you want to do Santa Barbara/Santa Rita Hills/Santa Maria.  Tons of good wineries, pinot and Rhone grapes, solid whites... Search around the forums, JonDerry and Emark have written some good reports. 

And don't forget to tell us where you wound up going and how it went.

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