From vine to grape to barrel to bottle, maturation means everything in the world of wine. The same principle applies to wine countries: It’s one thing to plant grapes, fill barrels and open tasting rooms, but a truly mature wine country also offers character, identity, consistency and rich history.
Not too long ago, you had to drive for more than an hour to find a wine country to fit that description. But you don’t have to go all the way to Napa and Sonoma anymore. Thanks in large part to sustainability-minded growers and award-winning winemakers, the designated American Viticultural Areas adjacent to Sacramento have matured in recent years to the point that they have become their own day-trip destinations.
Always a robust agricultural region, the greater Sacramento area has been home to vineyards and wineries ever since the Gold Rush days. However, the economic decline of mining towns and the advent of Prohibition in the early 20th century proved devastating to the industry. It was only in the past several decades that growers and vintners rediscovered the immense potential in the soil of the Central Valley and Sierra foothills. Now, there are thriving wine countries in every corner of Sacramento’s backyard.