With harvest truly getting underway in Northern California — up to now it's mostly been early whites and grapes for rosés and sparkling wines — masses of enotourists are descending on the northern counties to enjoy them in their glory. While many of us think of wine country as a tourist destination, the truth of the matter is that it is an agricultural/industrial area and these next two months are its peak season.
We as tourists like to visit during the harvest for myriad reasons; the energy with everyone moving around determinedly, the smells of grapes and fermenting wine in the air, the romance of the season, the changing colors, and as I've been talking about recently, the changing weather and our corresponding dining habits, which lets us enjoy the red wines we love so much to their fullest! There is no doubt that this is the best time to be a tourist in Northern California's wine country, now it's time to find out where we can find all those great wines to enjoy!
OK, I'm going to cheat a bit here, noting that while we all love Napa and Sonoma there are some other regions producing interesting wine further to the north. The thing is, though, that the enotourism business has yet to be fully develop in the farther north, though for better or worse it shall. That doesn't mean that a trip to Oregon's or Washington's wine country isn't warranted, it just means that if you go you'll have fewer choices in Portland and if you’re in Washington, well, you have Canlis in Seattle so why would you want to go anywhere else?
What follows are obviously personal preferences, though a great value is a great value, like it or not. Menu and wine selections were made from what was displayed Sept. 4, 2013 when this article was researched and should be accurate or at least indicative of what each establishment offers.