The California Wine Country originated in the late 1700s as a way to provide wine for the church masses that grew from the missions built from San Diego to Sonoma. Sacramental wine grapes were brought from Mexico and the soil and climate in California were perfect for growing grapes to feed the emerging market spawned by the arrival of settlers. As word spread of the ideal conditions for wineries, vintners emigrated from Europe, bringing a wide range of grapevine stock to add to the eclectic range and feed the demand. The oldest premium winery is considered to be the Buena Vista Winery, built in 1857 in the town of Sonoma. The cellars were dug into a limestone hill, and are still in use.
Vintners have come a long way in 150 years. Today California wineries have far surpassed others in the rest of the world. California wines are not only superior in quality, by investing in sustainable solutions to the usual farming challenges, many are committed to the evolution of ecological methods for providing an exceptional product. Orfila Winery, located in the San Pasqual valley utilizes an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program throughout their scenic 70 acres of vineyards. By providing a friendly environment to barn owls, falcons and bats, the rodent and insect enemies of grapes are kept at bay.
Winemaking has become an art form and locals with the means and knowledge can create their own blends without investing in a vast amount of land. Such is one coastal winery scenically located along the cliffs off of Highway One in Mendocino. Pacific Star Winery, where the Owner/Managers personally host the tasting events. Here you can obtain first hand knowledge of the wines, blending and learn more about their outdoor aging process.
Despite there being more than 1,300 wineries throughout the state, it is not just about the grape juice. Half the fun of sampling wines is pairing with food.The breads, cheeses, and eclectic assortment of food cooked with wine have few rivals as well. The dishes are simple; the sauces and flavors are memorable, especially shared with both old and new friends. Appetizers and finger food are especially perfect because you don’t want to fill up after just one glass. Sitting around with good friends, taking in a beautiful outdoor view on a gorgeous day – those are experiences that should take hours, if not most of the day.