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Stories from the valley

Raise a Glass to Fall

Contributed by Jennifer Harrison

Fall-cation anyone? The beauty and bounty of autumn is on full display at the 200 wineries nestled in the Sacramento Valley. The following spots, found in different corners of our region, are worth the trek to taste, see and maybe stay a while.

grapes on the vine

Grindstone Winery and Vineyards

Tucked into Dunnigan Hills, a low mountain range in Yolo County, family owned Grindstone Wine and Vineyards has been growing grapes since 1997. Today the Esparto winery, with its newly built tasting room, and unique wines (such as their Verdejo, a Spanish white wine) is establishing itself as a special spot for wine connoisseurs and newbies alike. 

Go for this: Beautiful views and their “hidden gem” a grassy park area for picnicking and group gatherings.

Stay for that: Food trucks and live music

award winning wine bottles with ribbons on a shelf

New Clairvaux Vineyard

Head to Vina, a town that literally means “vine,” for a truly unique wine tasting experience. New Clairvaux Vineyard in Tehama County is a partnership between a fifth-generation wine maker and the community of Trappist-Cistercian monks who together create unique wines with a focus on quality and sustainability. 

Go for this: Wine tasting in a historic Abbey setting. It’s open daily 11 am-5 pm.

Stay for that: History Lessons. Leland Stanford (8th Governor of California and founder of Stanford University, among other notable accomplishments) once owned this land which had a vineyard dating back to 1881. The Stanford Building is still on the Abbey premises.


Gale Vineyards and Winery

Located in Durham, not far from Chico, in Butte County, this spot is small but mighty. Gale Vineyards and Winery focuses on small batches of organically grown estate varietals. A family-owned operation, the winemakers look to the past and mimic wine making techniques of European winemakers before them.

Go for this: Wine tastings sometimes poured by the owners themselves

Stay for that: Brunch boards (charcuterie board with a brunch theme) and wine spritzers


A Trail of Wineries

Placer County is re-emerging as a sipping sweet spot. In the mid-1800s this area was known as a wine making region, but prohibition caused growers to start planting pears, plums and citrus instead of grapes. Over 100 years later grapes are back and thriving. The Placer Wine Trail boosts twenty family-run boutique wineries located in the Sierra Foothills where growers they take advantage of the well-draining decomposed granite and sandy loom soils that are ideal for the fruit. 

Go for this: The elevation! Wineries nestled among oak dotted hills.

Stay for that: Cheese, chocolate and fresh flowers are some examples of extra goodies you can grab at wineries on the trail.