21 Must-Do Insider Stops in California Wine Country


This month, our Uncorked feature is “Insider Wine Stops” — those California wine country places favored by seasoned wine tourists, winemakers, wine industry figures and locals.

Here is that feature, along with 8 more places the insiders go.

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Upcoming Wine Country Events & Festivals (April – June)



Wine regions and wineries are luring you to pleasure as wine country heats up with visitors. Commune with your inner winemaker at Castoro Cellars’ “make your own dam fine wine” or rock on with “Bottlerock” in Napa Valley. Go from googling the glitteratti at the Napa Wine Auction to having dinner with Louie Lucas and Royce Lewellen, two of the most engaging winery founders we know. There’s something for everyone in California wine country! Here’s a quick glance at some upcoming events. Be sure to check our full listing of wine country festivals and events.


April 4
Thomas Henry Wines (Meadowcroft), Sonoma
Stump the Winemaker Series – Part 1
Have questions that you would like answered about different wine making processes, the wine business, etc.? Must be 21 or older to participate. Class size limited to 12 adults. Fee: $25 per person.


April 9-12, Pebble Beach Food & Wine – 4 days for epicures in Monterey’s gorgeous Pebble Beach. 60 chefs, 250 wineries, cooking demonstrations.

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Breathtaking Wildflowers in California Wine Country


It’s spring! Just the word feels warm and wonderful. And nothing says it better than wildflowers.

In California wine country, you can admire beautiful pink Fairy Lanterns or Western Trillium on the Central Coast, between sips of Pinot Noir in Santa Barbara or Rhone wine in Paso Robles.

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Napa Valley Winery Bacio Divino Cellars Boasts Passion In Every Vintage


Our wine club members know we’re always talking about the passion evident at California’s small artisan wineries — winemakers who keep crazy hours and will do almost anything to make sure their bottlings are the best they can be. We’ve caught up with the owner of Napa Valley winery, Bacio Divino Cellars to see how it all started.


On the “passion scale” we’ve got to give Bacio Divino Cellars a ‘10’. The story of founder Claus Janzen is unmatched by any others we heard for its elements of dedication, energy and yes, passion.


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Wine in Ireland – Toast Saint Patrick’s Day!


This may surprise you — it did us — but there are wineries in Ireland. Ireland is actually listed as a wine producing country by the European Union. Sure, Saint Patrick would have to walk many a mile to find a bottle of Irish wine, but it does exist.


The few Irish wineries are located in the southwest portion of the country, mostly around Cork.  We think it is because of the climate and not the name.   If global temperatures rise more, winemaking in Ireland may as well.

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‘The Cradle of Wine’ – Italy Entices Wine Lovers

villaraiano  villaraianovineyard



We’ve featured Italy many times in our International Series, and for good reason. This boot-shaped country is the world’s cradle of wine. Winemaking dates back thousands of years in Italy. Many cultures, from the Phoenicians, to the Greeks and Romans and more, have influenced wine in Italy.


This country has 20 winegrowing regions, but that doesn’t even begin to tell the story. Italy actually has hundreds of sub-appellations, and fine wine can be found from north to south. Italy’s length gives it a huge range of climates and soils so that it boasts the world’s most diverse terroir.

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A Great Restaurant in the Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara Wine Country


Mattei’s Tavern, Los Olivos
(805) 688-3550
Under new ownership since 2013, Mattei’s Tavern in little Los Olivos.


In the heart of Santa Ynez Valley, Los Olivos has become THE place to visit with its 19+ tasting rooms, and Mattei’s is the perfect choice for dinner.

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Upcoming Wine Country Events, Large & Not So


Spring has sprung and wine events and festivals are blooming in all parts of California wine country. From an intimate Cornerstone Cellars Cabernet Release Party in the heart of Yountville to the blow-out, 33rd Annual Paso Robles Wine Festival, there’s something for everyone, including a wine that you’ll fall in love with. Or two, or three. Enjoy!

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5 Reasons to Visit Wine Country Now


Planning on a California wine country visit and wondering the best time to go? Consider the off-season. There are many reasons why timing your visit between November and April is smart. Here are just 5.


1. Avoid the crowds: We love Napa, but hwy. 29 in July and August can be slow going. And tasting rooms in other popular corners of California wine country, like Sonoma, Santa Barbara, and Paso Robles, can be packed. Off-season offers almost no crowds, less traffic, and plenty of elbow room to taste wine.

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Terroir Matches the Spectacular Ambiance at Sunstone


When the Rice family purchased 55 acres in the Santa Ynez Valley, little did they know they’d caught a terroir tiger by the tail. And that’s a good thing!


The family was new to winemaking, but they thought the slopes along the Santa Ynez River with their southern exposure, the soils with their rock and sand, the early morning fog and windy afternoons boded well for the grapevines they planned.

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