SOURCE: Visit California

Visit California

August 28, 2015 09:00 ET

Top 4 Road Trips for California Wine Month in September

SACRAMENTO, CA--(Marketwired - August 28, 2015) - You, a convertible and the wide open California road -- what could be a dreamier combination? If you're a wandering gourmet, the only thing missing from this bucket-list image is California's iconic wine country.

The best time to take a culinary trip is California Wine Month in September, when the air is buzzing with the excitement of harvest. Wineries all over the state are putting their best bottles forward with festivals, VIP tastings, winemaking experiences, tours and other unique experiences for the epicurious.

From California's iconic coast and redwood forests to dramatic deserts and magnificent High Sierra, there are amazing wine regions and foodie experiences waiting to be discovered. As the leading wine and food destination in the U.S., California is the very best place for gourmands to satisfy their thirst for adventure -- this September and beyond. Below are just the highlights; get the complete itineraries here.

1) SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA/NORTH COAST

For those who prefer the road less traveled, escape to the wild north coast, where you can get off the grid and immerse yourself in a land of wild rocky coasts, fog enshrouded redwood forests, intimate wineries and romantic hamlets. Start your foodie escape in San Francisco, one of the world's leading food cities. Take a California culinary tour in one stop at the historic Ferry Building Marketplace, or slurp a sourdough roll filled with clam chowder at Boudin's. Overdo it on the Chocolate Trail Tour or tour the city's ethnic towns. On the second day, cruise north over the Golden Gate Bridge and find your way to the Sonoma Marin Cheese Trail, and taste hand-made desserts at Mom's Apple Pies. Get grounded with a yoga and wine tour or stir things up with a wine blending class. Day three brings you north to tasting Mendocino County biodynamic wines, a cooking class at Philo Apple Farm, and a stay at the romantic seaside village of Mendocino. Day four takes you to Napa Valley, where options range from the Bottle Blending Day Camp at Judd's Hill Winery and the Silverado Cooking School to the Silverado Wine Trail and Napa Valley Wine Train. On the last day explore everything from an Edible Excursions tour of Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto to the urban Oakland Wine Trail.

2) SACRAMENTO AND THE HIGH SIERRA

Start in the State Capitol of Sacramento, home to great cultural attractions and the biggest concentration of highly rated Zagat restaurants in Northern California. Get oriented on the bountiful agricultural offerings with Local Roots Food Tours or sample Sacramento Valley's wineries. Get your hands dirty with farm or ranch tour. On day two, discover the hidden gem Sierra Foothills wine region, boasting some of the highest elevation wineries in the state, farm trails and many Gold Rush towns. Take a M.S. Dixie II Paddlewheeler dinner cruise in South Lake Tahoe, and in the morning take a hike in North Lake Tahoe, including lunch at a lakeside restaurant and shopping and a stop in the Gold Rush Town of Nevada City. On day four check out the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center, where you can taste and learn about local experiences such as the Lodi Wine Trail and Lodi Wine & River Tours.

3) CENTRAL COAST

Wake up your appetite with sunrise surf in Santa Cruz, and head north to Harley Farms, a restored 1910 dairy farm boasting 200 alpine goats that produce critically-acclaimed cheese. Head south to enjoy ocean breezes along the Corralitos Wine Trail. Ride horseback through organic vineyards and the next day try a Carmel Food Tour, or explore "California's Salad Bowl" with Ag Venture Tours. View marine life and dine at Monterey Bay Aquarium, which pioneered the sustainable Seafood Watch. Stroll romantic Cannery Row and take a Monterey County wine region road trip in one stop at A Taste of Monterey. The next day brave hairpin turns with awe-inspiring Pacific views as you head south in Big Sur, then continue south for a Cottages & Kitchen Tour at Hearst Castle. Explore rustic Paso Robles' tasting rooms, artisan specialty food shops and take flight with a zipline vineyard tour or vineyard helicopter tour. On the final day, follow Miles' and Jack's footsteps on a self-guided Sideways Tour of Santa Barbara's wine regions, or savor the Sweet Treats Trail in the historic Danish town of Solvang.

4) SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Start by grazing your way through L.A. on a Melting Pot Tour, then explore the unexpected Malibu wine region, where the varietals steal the show from celebrity residents. The next day try one of many celebrity chef eateries in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, or cheap ethnic eats in Koreatown and Little Tokyo. The next day head southeast for a Pedego Electric Bikes' Temecula Valley Tour and stroll the beautifully restored Old Town Temecula. Finish the trip on the last day with an early hot-air balloon ride over Temecula Valley, then drive an hour south to San Diego, which serves some of the best Mexican food in the state. Take the little-known San Diego Winery Train Tour and dine in the historic Gaslamp Quarter, home to some of the city's best eateries and nightlife.

About Visit California

Visit California is a non-profit organization with a mission to develop and maintain marketing programs -- in partnership with the state's travel industry -- that keep California top-of-mind as a premier travel destination. According to Visit California, travel and tourism expenditures totaled $117.5 billion in 2014 in California, supporting jobs for 1,013,000 Californians and generating $9.3 billion in state and local tax revenues. For more information about Visit California and for a free California Official State Visitor's Guide, go to www.VisitCalifornia.com. For story ideas, media information, downloadable images, video and more, go to www.media.visitcalifornia.com.

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