One of the more popular items on many retirement to-do lists is to take a trip to wine country. If this is a goal of yours, and if you live in the United States or plan on visiting in the near future, it’s safe to say California is where you’re headed. After all, the Golden State produces 90% of the wine made in the U.S., meaning there is no shortage of visitor-friendly vineyards to choose from.
Here are some basic tips for those preparing for a first-time trip to California wine country:
Go Beyond Napa and Sonoma
California Wine Country specifically refers to a relatively small region near San Francisco, but winemaking is a tradition which stretches across the entire state. With this in mind, consider heading down to the Central Coast and Southern California in search of lesser-known vineyards hundreds of miles away from the fabled valleys of the north. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the gems you uncover by going on one or two San Diego wine tours available to visitors of America’s Finest City. The same can be said for those in Orange County.
It’s considered in poor taste to become intoxicated by trying wines on a wine tour. With that said, the chances of visiting one of the greatest winemaking regions of the world and leaving without having too much to drink at some point sound pretty low. Play it safe by coming prepared. Have the two major rideshare apps - Uber and Lyft - ready to use on your phone as well as the phones of anyone you’re traveling with. Pack a hangover prevention pill bottle to keep from spending a day of your trip sick in bed. It’s also important to remember to drink plenty of water whenever possible to stay properly hydrated.
Explore Other Things
California is a very big place. Not only does roughly 10 percent of the American population reside there, but the Golden State would rank as having the fifth largest economy in the world if counted as its own country independent from the U.S. Throw in the fact that California is also home to so many national treasures including the Redwood forests, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, Hollywood, Disneyland, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, and Yosemite National Park, it’s a no-brainer that California has a lot more to offer older vacationers than its impressive array of vineyards. In other words, it’s highly recommended for California wine tourists to take advantage of being relatively so close to so many wonderful things.
Do Your Research
A series of historically destructive wildfires have swept through several parts of California in recent weeks as well as over the last several years. While the sheer size of the state means there will always be vineyards left, each fire tends to claim many great wineries before it's put out. Given this unfortunate reality, it’s a good idea to do your research on specific regions prior to planning your trip. It’s also a good idea to have a basic plan in mind in the event you’re caught in the middle of developing fire during your visit.
Many people yearn to visit the wine regions of California at some point in their lives, with most waiting until they’re in retirement to make the trip. If this is your situation, it’s important to properly prepare for your first visit, in order to be as safe as possible as well as have a great time.