Ranked fourth on the list of the world’s busiest airports, LAX sees millions of passengers day in and day out. While it may not be easy to get to Napa and Sonoma from said airport, there are plenty of other grape-covered regions within reach. Napa and Sonoma may be the first two destinations that come to mind, but California is brimming with exciting regions to visit, from the northern tip of Mendocino, all the way down to Santa Barbara. Check out one of these three awesome wine regions the next time you hop off the plane at LAX (cue Miley) for a fabulously wine-drenched weekend.
Santa Ynez Valley
Just a (stunning) two hour drive from L.A., the Santa Ynez Valley is not to be missed. The region is part of the larger Central Coast AVA and is packed with the most wineries in the entire county. Be sure to hit Santa Rita Hills (hello, Wenzlau Vineyards and Sandhi Wines!) on your trip out west. Chardonnay lovers, head to the chillier, ocean-influenced part of the AVA; Rhone aficionados, find your varieties more inland.
Santa Maria Valley
Drive slightly north of the Santa Ynez Valley and you’ll find yourself in the Santa Maria Valley, partially located in both northern Santa Barbara County and southern San Luis Obispo County. This region is naturally shaped like a funnel and is the oldest wine-producing region in this part of the state. Cooling fog and diverse soils allow for successful grape-growing capabilities, specifically with Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Chardonnay.
While the first two regions will have you headed north, turn the car south and find yourself in Temecula Valley. Winemaking in this region saw a reinvigoration in the 1960s; currently, over 30 wineries operate in the valley, dotted with hotels and gift shops along the way. Low rainfall and abundant sunshine create conducive growing conditions for Chardonnay, Merlot, and Rhone varieties.